Friday, July 12, 2019

Still Reading, Grieving and Missing Miriam

I've been "absent" too long at my blog . . . though from being too busy, not idle.  The past 12 months have been as filled per-hour-per-day as anytime since when we had little children and I was writing my dissertation.  

I love reading - to learn! To enter new worlds - in historical fact of the past - or in imaginative contexts - or in research and data.  I love reading!

With areas within my "areas" of "expertise" - I love reading a new set of facts, or a new culmination of ideas, or data - or a new "twist" on interpretation.

And, I've read a ton in the past months and will catch up soon in some way with the many titles and new podcasts that inspire and inform my life.

This year has been rough for me.  In many things in the past year and some reflective issues in my life, I've experienced deep loss and significant grief.  It's been a hard year, to be honest.

In reading a Commentary entry by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks today to jump back into some more frequency here - and to move past the loss(es) and hurt(s) of my life.

With the Hebrew Bible, I'm always intrigued when I have time to learn from ancient Rabbinic tradition, since these sages have for so many millennia reflected on the insights of Hebraic Sacred Scripture.

Rabbi Sacks offers several bits of insight I had never considered in the interpretation of a "bad" event in a "troubling situation" for Moses, recorded in the Torah in Numbers 20.  I won't recount his insight here, except this single interpretive option.  Rabbi Sacks suggests that Moses made bad decisions because he was in mourning, grieving, in a state of existential despair due to the loss of his loved on, his sister.  That fact alone, reshapes how we think about Moses and this narrative.

Rabbi Sacks offers this:
Moses lost control because his sister Miriam had just died. He was in mourning for his eldest sibling. It is hard to lose a parent, but in some ways it is even harder to lose a brother or sister. They are your generation. You feel the Angel of Death come suddenly close. You face your own mortality . . . .
So it was not simply the Israelites’ demand for water that led Moses to lose control of his emotions, but rather his own deep grief. The Israelites may have lost their water, but Moses had lost his sister, who had watched over him as a child, guided his development, supported him throughout the years, and helped him carry the burden of leadership in her role as leader of the women. . . . 
Bereavement leaves us deeply vulnerable. In the midst of loss we can find it hard to control our emotions. We make mistakes. We act rashly. We suffer from a momentary lack of judgement. These are common symptoms even for ordinary humans like us. 

This has been a vulnerable, loss of control for some emotions, making mistakes, being rash kind of year for me - even with many good things, too.

I'm thankful for the loves of my life and deeply meaningful friendships with a few, who have seen me through.

On to better things now, in 2019 - and 2020 and beyond.

~ marty

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