Follow Atlantan Edie Barr through her most recent journeys in Israel and her "New Year."
By Edie Barr
Today was a day of firsts for me. My first time driving our new rental car to Jerusalem. My first time driving on the scenic very winding road through the Judaean hills. My first time driving from Hadassah Hospital to my school. My first Ethics Class and my first Chumash class at Nishmat. The first time I drove to the Machla Mall. The first time I drove home from Jerusalem via Hadassah and through the winding road through the Judaean hills. The road is very treacherous and the intersection leading to Ramat Beit Shemesh is not marked because the road has not been really finished or approved yet. There are places near Ramat Beit Shemesh where the road changes from one way to two way without warning. But the views are magnificent and awe inspiring. Israel is such a beautiful country. I will try to post pictures on this blog when I can. The trip is very meaningful for me because to get to Jerusalem, I follow the signs to Hadassah Hospital. Thus Hadassah is my beacon leading me to this new journey of my life. It is an amazing sight to see Hadassah on the top of the hill ahead as I arrive into Jerusalem. The new tower is especially magnificent. Hadassah has had a major effect on my life as I have experienced it since 1973 when I joined.
Just as I was saying a little prayer to thank Hashem for arriving safely on the street of the school, a car pulled out from a side street right in front of me. Hashem was watching because we were both able to stop in time. I left my house at 7:30AM and arrived at Nishmat at 8:15AM. My class didn’t start until 8:30AM so I had time to have a cup of Turkish coffee before class. I met one of the other students in my program in the beit midrash, and she told me the teacher had decided to start the class at 9AM. I wish someone had told me, but it will make the commute on Tuesdays easier for me from now on.
My first class was Jewish Ethics, and we are studying “The Path of the Just”. It was written by Moshe Chayim Luzzatto around 1750 and predates Freud. I think he got all of his ideas from Jewish thought. We haven’t gone into it yet, but the teacher said that it will help us create a framework that will allow us to achieve our goals in life. We were first introduced to Tanya which I believe was written by the first Lubovitcher Rebbe. Basically, its premise is that human beings have two souls.; an animal soul that has physical desires and a spiriitual soul that wants to do the right thing and connect to Hashem. There are deep desires in our souls that we cannot stop or really ever understand, but we must use our spiritual souls to channel and control them. Sounds like the id and the ego, right?
The second class was Chumash. We are going not only to learn Chumash but also Biblical Hebrew and grammar. We compared Avraham with Noach. Noach was destined from birth to save the world because his father gave him his name in order to help the world. We know nothing about why Hashem chose Avraham. We know Noach was righteous for his time and followed Hashem. We know the condition of the world at that time. None of this is part of the Avraham story. We do not know why Avraham was chosen according to the written text. Now that I am reading the Torah in Hebrew I noticed that when it mentions that Hashem “regretted” that he had made man, the Hebrew word used was Nahama which I was always told means comfort. Here it means regret. The teacher told me the word means to change status. Thus if you are upset becoming comforted is the change tjo your status. When Hashem dispares that he created man, he wants to change the world status and that is translated as regret.
And it was evening and it was morning, the third day, and it was good.