Sunday, November 30, 2008

Heavy Heart

The rabbi and his wife were murdered. This is an event of unspeakable evil. The horror they must have felt in their last moments is unimaginable. B"H their 2-year-old son, Moshe, escaped in the arms of his nanny. This young couple was in India to do nothing but bring Jews back to Judaism (Jews do not proselytize to non-Jews) and provide hospitality to any Jew traveling in India. The building they had for this purpose was a pre-selected target by these most evil of rashaim. Here is a link to more details about the horror.

When a horrible event like this occurs, it is a traditional practice to make a new commitment to a mitzvah. I have decided on a couple of things.

1) BE"H, I will learn to recite tehillim (psalms) with pirush hamilos (knowing the translation of the words being said). Tehillim are said daily, and many tehillim are said in times of distress. I have started with psalm 1 and psalm 20. I will recite them and study the words until I really know them. And BE"H study more after that!

2) I have started to learn to read Rashi. Rashi is an 11th-century commentator on the torah, and it is the first commentary that students learn. He brilliantly elucidates the basic meaning of the text and fills in some blanks that are answered in the oral torah. Fortunately, I have 3 years before Amirah begins to study Rashi! Our rebbetzin has started a text-based torah study class (harder to find in Portland than one might think!!), and while the other three are working on the torah text, I'm going to work on the Rashi. Rashi script is different from Hebrew script. Six or seven of the letters are utterly different, and the rest are different but pretty close. The script was not actually used by Rashi himself, but rather was used by typesetters to ensure that his comments were not confused with the text of the torah itself. His commentary is printed in almost all chumashim (the first 5 books of torah). But not with vowels! I need to get an edition that includes vowels. Traditionally, Hebrew is not printed with vowels, unless you're a student just learning to read or it's a newspaper for non-native speakers!

May the memory of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Holtzberg be for a blessing, and may we know no more sorrow. And may we all perform acts of chesed/kindness that will make this world a better place.

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