Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Goldfish and Shavuot.

Someone at a carnival gave my children a free goldfish. Here was a shiny, living, swimming creature, for free. Of course, as soon as they brought it home, they transferred it to a large mayonnaise jar.
The next day, they realised that they would need an aquarium. Then , of course, the aquarium needed gravel, an oxygenator and a water filtre. All of this came in a convenient kit at the pet store, with a light, charcoal, fiber glass for the filtre as well as fish food , all for only forty nine dollars.
It was readily apparent that the free fish was not free at all. Of course, by the time this realisation had dawned on us, we were all very fond of "Orange Thing". Whatever he (or she) needed was quite okay with us. "Orange Thing" got what he needed. He even got a little catfish to keep him company and clean the tank.
Life is like that. We want things. We pray for them. Sometimes we even get what we want. Whatever we pray for ends up with hidden costs.Marriage, children a job. You always end up going back to the store for accessories. When I looked at that goldfish, I was looking at my reflection.
Tonight is going to be Shavuot. Passover, only seven weeks ago was , it turns out only a preparation for Shavuot, which in turn finds its fulfillment in other holidays on the Jewish calendar.Each holiday in the Jewish year emphasises a different aspect of spirituality, much as a properly set table has a balanced offering from all the major food groups.
During Passover, the children at the table ask the father questions. On Sukkot, in the fall, (the Feast of Booths), passers by of all faiths see the shacks Jews build in their yards and then ask questions of those inside. This has precipitated many discussions about the vulnerable nature of life in the Sukkah. It provides many analogies to the fragility of life itself.
The next major event on the Jewish calendar is the Three Weeks, when we mourn the destruction of the Temple. We hope and pray that this year, it will be a time of physical rebuilding and celebration. It's all tied into the Torah that we received on Shavuot morning. But that's another story for another day.

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