Wednesday, September 08, 2010

A Pregnant Year

This coming year, 5771, will be a Jewish leap year. The Hebrew term is "Shana Me'uberet," which literally means a "pregnant" year. We add a thirteenth month every few years to keep the lunar and solar years in synch. You might have noticed that Pesah and Rosh Hashanah came out unusually early this civil year. The lunar year is eleven days short, and if the regression were allowed to continue Pesah would be celebrated in winter, not in spring as the Torah dictates. Next year, starting with Purim, the holidays come unusually late.
Jewish mysticism has a "pregnant" year carrying "excess baggage," blessings or, God forbid, curses. 5708, the year Israel became a state, was a leap year; the state was declared May 14, which is as late as Yom Ha-atzma'ut ever comes. Similarly, Jerusalem was liberated in 5727, also a "pregnant" year, and Yom Yerushalayim rarely comes later than June 7, the civil date of the miracle of 1967.
May the coming year be "pregnant" with even greater miracles and "give birth" to the ge'ulah shelemah, the final redemption.
I wish my readers and klal Yisrael a ktiva va-hatima tova.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Remember Munich

Today, 26 Elul, and tomorrow, are the yahrzeits for the eleven Israeli athletes butchered by Arab Amalekim at the Munich Olympics in 1972. Moshe Weinberg and Yosef Romano were shot in the morning during the seizure of the hostages, and the remaining nine were killed at the airport during a botched rescue attempt by the West Germans that night. It happened 38 years ago, so the Hebrew and Gregorian dates coincide as they do every nineteen years. The world sowed the wind then and is still reaping the whirlwind now.

Click here and never forget.

Labels: ,

Friday, September 03, 2010

Bottom Rail on Top

I was watching Ken Burns's PBS documentary on the Civil War the other day. A runaway slave fighting for the Union recognized his former master in a column of Confederate prisoners, and told him, "Hello, massa. Bottom rail on top this time." It reminded me of an incident that occurred in the New York City Marathon back in my younger days when I was running it nearly every year and clocking respectable times for a recreational runner. As was my custom, I was wearing a sleeveless top with the Israeli flag on the chest and back. I caught up with a badly faltering German runner in the last mile. I remembered the death marches, where Jewish concentration camp inmates were marched by the German S.S. westward toward Germany, ahead of the advancing Red Army. The S.S. would point their guns at the starving, half-dead inmates and shout, "Schnell, Schnell" - fast, fast. Many who could not keep up were shot on the spot. Now, I knew I had nothing against a fellow athlete about my age who was not even born until after the Holocaust, but in the last mile of a marathon your brain plays tricks on you. As I passed the German, I turned toward him, made the universal gun sign (index finger pointed at the target and parallel to the ground, thumb perpendicular to index finger, other fingers turned inward as if in a fist) and called out, "Schnell, Schnell." I don't know what if anything he said or what kind of facial expression he had when he got a good look at the Israeli flag on the back of my shirt.

Finishing my last N.Y.C. Marathon
in 2003

Labels: , , , ,