The three of us were the best of friends. We played "shul" together. We learned together. Our favorite game was a combination of Bible stories and comic book superheroes: Samson coming to Superman's rescue. Benayahu saves Batman.
Two of the fathers stopped this game when one of us, "Superman" being chased by Goliath knowing he would be saved by David, ran through a glass door and needed tens of stitches. The games stopped because these fathers felt that we were dishonoring Samson by having him save Superman.
My father's take was, "I hope you are still playing Bible stories when you are fifty!"
Well, I'm fifty and still play Bible stories! I called Superman to reminisce, but he didn't want to talk about, "Grow up! Why dontcha?"
Well, because I don't want to grow up, at least not in that way. I miss my childhood friend's ability to live the adventure of Torah study. The most powerful magic of my education was the bedtime Bible adventures as acted out by my father. I see every bible and Talmud story, every Midrash, animated by that spirit.
We read in this week's portion how Yishmael got into trouble for playing. Sarah watched him play and insisted that Abraham expel him from the house. We know that Yitzchak also played. Why was Yishmael's play so threatening?
"Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian playing." She saw Yishmael playing dress up as his mother. The dress up wasn't the problem; the fact that he chose to be his mother the Egyptian, not the wife of Abraham, scared Sarah. Yishmael's play was a strong indication of where his heart was. He was dreaming of life in Egypt, not in the house of Abraham. Sarah watched Yishmael play and understood where his heart was. She wanted him out!
Our play reflects our values, just as our relaxation reflects our work ethic. Shabbat defines our work, not just our rest. The way we play with Torah is a clear reflection of how we study Torah. When we can transform Torah stories into adventures we express our vision of Torah as Torat Chaim, a Living Torah. When we can play and imagine how Samson would interact with Superman, we are saying that the Bible heroes could function in any situation, even the most fantastical. When we are comfortable enough playing with Bible stories to imagine ourselves in the same situation as Abraham at the Binding of Isaac, we are confidently declaring our conviction that Abraham's actions matter to us.
Grow up? I don't think so!
This Week's Favorites: The Wisdom of Sharing I
,IV, Favorite Announcement:
The Foundation Stone is happy to announce that our new series of 10 teleconference classes for women given by Debbie Brenner has begun to outstanding feedback and participation. You can still join and learn:
by Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato
Time: Monday - 9:30 pm EST
Next Class: October 25, 2010
Materials: Derech Hashem translation by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan.
The series will cover Part I and go over the following topics:
1. The Creator
2. The Purpose of Creation
4. Human Responsibility
5. The Spiritual Realm
The class focuses on providing a thought structure to basic Jewish Philosophy and lasts 45' with 15' additional for discussion. We are requesting a minimum contribution of at least $10/class. ($100 minimum for the whole series until December 2010). Registration for the series will be through PayPal. Please, click on the link to proceed with the donation. Thank you.
I wish you all a play-filled Shabbat.
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg
President Go to our Blog
Follow us on Twitter
Become a Fan