School Vacation Weekly Review

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On My Blog

Photo memes:
Thistle in Italian Mountains for Today’s Flowers
Sorbus for Ruby Tuesday
Windows in Southern France for Window Views

My First Hitchhiker

Weekly Parshah Post

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

Raizy writes about Learning How To Give A D’var Torah

The latest edition of KCC (the Kosher Cooking Carnival) is up thanks to Mimi of Israeli Kitchen

Tweaking the Jewish Image of Relationships, a post by Hyim Shafner

Leora posts about Famous Journeys

Ban the books?, Hadassah writes about censorship in school libraries – don’t forget to read the comments too

She also hosts a pot by Shorty: My Judaism

Shabbat Shalom!

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Lekh Lekha

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When we reach the story of Abraham, we have the feeling that we are approaching a completely new dimension in the relationship between God and man.

When God addresses Abraham and tells him to leave his land, He is addressing an individual, a man with a destiny – not just with a mission. This idea of a personal relationship between God and man is reflected in the first blessing of the Amidah where we say: God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob. We affirm that there is one God who has a unique relationship with each and every one of us – just as He had a special relationship with the patriarchs, starting with Abraham.

The weekly parshah reminds us that, even if God doesn’t ask us to leave our land, we sometimes need to reconsider our spiritual journey and thus our unique bond with God. Like Abraham we are encouraged not to take everything for granted, to leave behind external influences and try and understand what God expects from us as unique individuals.

Last year’s parshah posts: Go to Yourself and Lekh Lekha: Israel and the Nations

My First Hitchhiker

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We do judge a book by its cover.

I had never given a lift to a hitchhiker – until yesterday. Being a woman I never felt it was a good idea to have a total stranger in my car. Come to think about it, I still don’t think it is!

Having driven an approximate 1,000 miles the two previous days, I was not looking forward to the extra 300 miles that lay ahead when I set off in the morning. I soon had to stop to check the car manual and did it at a rest area that had a gas station since I was on the motorway.

When I reached the car park, I noticed a young guy holding a cardboard sign with the name of a city I knew I would pass on my way. I wondered whether to give him a ride, resolved to wait and went inside the station. When I got back to the car a few minutes later, he was still standing there. I quickly assessed him and decided to offer to drive him to his destination.

Since I had never done it before, I have since tried to analyse what made me decide to trust him. However loathe I may be to admit it, the answer is simple: looks.
This guy was smart in a casual way and seemed clean. He was clean-shaven and looked sporty – he had a hiker’s rucksack of a brand which is mainly used by experimented hikers. In addition he was checking an Iphone. While wondering what to do, I also remembered that when they were younger my brothers had hitchhiked regularly and had always been glad for the lifts they got.

I did not regret my decision since this young man proved to be a great passenger. He is a 25 year-old firefighter who comes from the French Alps but lives in the flat Northern part of France. Therefore he regularly travels down to see his friends and relatives and hitchhiking is the cheapest way to do it. As a teenager, he had spent a year in the US and we so chatted about traveling and language teaching.

I also asked him if getting a lift was easy and he explained that he had consulted websites to get tips before he hitchhiked for the first time. He insisted that looks are an important factor in a driver’s decision and that he is always careful of his appearance and attitude. For instance it seems people mistrust hitchhikers in darker clothes. Smoking while hitchhiking isn’t recommended. Drivers prefer hitchhikers who are not wearing sunglasses, etc.

We also discussed locations, routes, road maps, signs but I honestly reckon that clothing, hair and a good attitude are key factors in getting rides.

Have you ever given rides or hitchhiked? Why or why not?

KCC and Blog Update

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I have been busy driving for the past three days. I drove a car to the South of France on Sunday and drove another one back up North yesterday and today. I have only had time for two photo posts – one for Today’s Flowers and another one for Ruby Tuesday – and very little time for blog reading elsewhere. So, please, excuse my rare visits and belated comments.

Meanwhile Mimi has put together a lovely edition of KCC – the Kosher Cooking Carnival.

Sorbus

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Sorbus, otherwise known as whitebeam, rowan, service tree, and mountain ash, is very common in Sweden. Although I am no longer posting Swedish red houses, I found that these red berries were lovely.

On Tuesdays, just post any photo you like (it must be one of your own) that contains the color RED and then link to this blog.

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Early Weekly Review

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Since I need to take an early train for a meeting I’m posting early today.

On My Blog

Photo memes:
Flowers on Door for Today’s Flowers
Sweden: Last Series (For Now) for Ruby Tuesday
Sweden City Windows for Window Views and Doors

Would You Use This?

Weekly Recipe: Lighter Pastry Dough

Weekly Parshah Post: Noach

Elsewhere in the JBlogosphere

The Post-Chagim Edition of Haveil Havalim is up at Ima on and off the Bima

Shimshonit asks who does motzi?

What Defines Israeli Parenting? Mother in Israel needs your help for an article in an American magazine

Jew Wishes reviews Life is a Test by Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis

Torat Haim: the Torah does not remove us from life, a fine post by Michael

A blog by any other name, Mrs.S. explores new names for her blog

After Favorite Books from Childhood, Leora writes about Favorite Picture Books

Shabbat Shalom!

Noach

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כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-נֹחַ

as God commanded Noach.

We usually have the feeling that Noach isn’t as great as the other men mentioned in the Torah. Although he is described “a just man and perfect in his generations” (Bereshit 10:9), the degree of his righteousness is much discussed in the different Midrashim. Some of the ancient rabbis think that Noach was a just man only in comparison with his generation, which was sinful, but that he could not be compared with any of the other righteous men the Torah mentions.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks invites us to observe what Noach says when God tells him that the world is about to perish, when he is asked to make an ark to save his himself and family or when the rain starts to fall. The answer is nothing.

The Torah mentions four times in this week’s parshah that Noach did “as God had commanded him”.

For Rabbi Sacks obedience is not enough. He insists that Biblical Hebrew has no word for “obey”. Instead we find the word shema, which means listen, hear, attend, understand, internalize, respond.

If God had expected us to be obedient puppets, he would have created robots not creatures endowed with free will. Instead He wants us to do his will because we understand what he expects from us or because we trust Him.

He seeks from us something other and greater than obedience, namely responsibility.

By contrast Abraham, who in the Torah narrative commes just after Noach, is understood to be a paradigm of rightousness. He fights a war to save his nephew, he pleads with God to save the people of Sodom. He doesn’t wait for God’s command or permission to act.

Sometimes we have the feeling that the news is filled with stories where people seem to choose blind faith over common sense. It is therefore comforting and encouraging to be reminded that:

Faith is more than obedience. It is the courage to create.