Welcome to Mo-Drash ... the weird confluence of the Jewish tradition of Midrash and me!

What is Midrash? Literally, the word derives from the Hebrew root that expresses interpretation. Figuratively, it is the process by which Jews read between the lines of our sacred stories and seek insight from what we discover from each story, verse, word, letter and stroke of the pen.

Who am I? My name is Adam Morris, but known by many as Rabbi Mo. I spend a lot of my time serving in the role of rabbi, but I am also a husband, a dad, a runner and a 'weekend' craftsman (among other things). I try to move like Abraham to find my Place ... to wrestle like Jacob to know my Place ... and to snicker like Sarah to keep me in my Place.

B'makom she-ani omayd (from The Place where I stand),
Rabbi Mo

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Origins of Apple-ness - Day #15

I tasted my first honey-crisp apple of the fall today.  If you have not enjoyed the honey-crisp variety of apple you are missing out -- they are sweet, crisp and well, have a hint of honey.  Apples are one of those foods that the heavily depend on the state of the apple.  An eating apple that is mealy or not at the right time of ripeness becomes inedible.  (Unlike some foods, like pizza - for many of us out there such a thing as 'bad' pizza does not exist.)  However, when that apple - no matter your style preference (Pink Ladies are actually my favorite) - is just right, the experience of eating it is as satisfying as eating any other piece of fruit.

So, I am wondering about this apple-nee sensibility of mine -- from where does it originate?  Do I have a built in aesthetic sense of apple-ness and I know it when I see it? Is my apple aesthetic subjective and based on my tastes and peculiarities?  Is there a universal apple aesthetic that all of us share?  Are my apple preferences based on thousands  of different experiences of eating apples -  particularly those encounters with mealy, nasty tasting ones?  (i.e. I only know what I like from my extensive, life-time sampling apples of varying varieties and states of ripeness, crispness and sweetness.)

I think the answer to all of my questions is 'yes'.  Yes, there exists somewhere a unversal apple aestheic.  Yes, I have the tools within to realize that aesthetic.  Yes, some aspects of apple-ness that I treasure (like the Pink Lady) are not shared by everyone else (like those who live in the same house as I do).  And yes, part of the process uncovering both the universal aesthetic and my own preferences come from my bad experiences and mistakes of eating some nasty apples.

No, you have not stumbled onto a Food Channel blog by accident ... I've got more than apples on my mind, I've got LIFE and DEATH choices on my mind.  This morning we read the Torah portion from Deuteronomy that will make its reappearance in two weeks on Yom Kippur morning (N'tzavim).  In it the Israelites are challenged:  God had placed before you good and evil, life and death ... Choose LIFE!  Well, duh?  Who wouldn't choose life 99.9% of the time when given the choice of life or death?  So, why is such an overstatement of the obvious in the Torah this week AND on Yom Kippur?  It must not be such an easy choice ... kinda like developing or discovering an apple aesthetic and choosing the right apple each and every time.

Choosing Life - as we were challenged to do this morning and will again be challenged to do on Yom Kippur -- is nuanced, complex and just plain hard to consistently do.  So, tradition offers of this gift of time in the year to address 'Choose Life' challenge.  We take time to consider our choices - both in the past and ahead of us - so that we can fine tune our understanding of Life.  We work to remember what that universal understanding of Life looks like, sounds like and feels like.  We tune and hone the internal tools we use to keep that understanding at the forefront of our hearts and minds.  We try and balance how the way others understanding of Life affects us and our world.  We review the choices of our past - particularly the bad ones - and try to use what we learned from those choices in the coming year to 'Choose Life.'

May your choices be crisp, sweet or tart (whichever you prefer) and fulfilling.

1 comment:

  1. Choosing to live seems simple. Choosing to believe what is possible in life is what's hard. I know a guy who is very depressed, and thinks his life can't be any better. Every time I give him a suggestion about how he could do something about his various life complaints, he gives me a well-reasoned and complex explanation about why my suggestion won't work. And they are always based on an assumption that probably isn't even true, but he accepts as a given. When I explain how i can show him that he is wrong, or that there may be other ways that I could help him, he explains why he just can't allow me to do that.

    This is what choosing life means to me. Choosing to entertain the possibility that life can be really worth experiencing. A philosopher I once knew told me we either have what we want in life, or the reasons why we don't have them. Sometimes choosing life means choosing to have what we want, instead of choosing to have the reason why you don't.

    Now, what would be really interesting would be why we usually think we want to choose good over evil. You say, " God had placed before you good and evil, life and death ... Choose LIFE!"

    So..why do you only talk about the second choice God has placed before us, and not the first? Or are you saying they're the same thing?