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Going beyond the Kale….[i]

May 12, 2013


Life is too short not to make the best and the most of everything that comes your way every day. –Sasha Azevedo

This part week we started the fourth book of the Torah, Bamidbar (The Book of Numbers). My son keeps saying “Dad, I can’t believe we are on the fourth book, the Torah has gone so fast”

The word Bamidbar means desert or wilderness. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks describes the Book of Bamidbar as a book about the wilderness years in both a physical and spiritual sense.

Over the last few days I have been thinking about all I have read, see, listened to and experienced in the last week. Some of these things that have had an impact or made an impression on me in no specific order have been:

  • Part 1 of the documentary on the life of the cyclist Anna Meares, her courage and determination goes way beyond her natural ability;
  • Jeff Lipshatz’s Siyum (celebration of completion) on Gemarah Kedoshim and the link between Gemarah Kedoshim which is all about marriage, which relates to a relationship to another person (physical relationship) and the next Gemorah Succos which is all about the Succah (booth or Temprary Hut) and our relationship with G-d (spiritual relationship). One of the amazing things was that Jeff spent 18 years learning this Gemarah – Well done Jeff;
  • The Rich Roll podcast – Interview with Lisa Fallon Mindel on health and well being, but goes beyond this;
  • My weekly baking experience, for the last few weeks I have tried to bake something healthy and unusual and have been inspired by “new” ingredients such as chia seeds, coconut oil etc;
  • Attending Generation Sinai, a worldwide initiative to bring parents and children together to learn the Shema on Rosh Chodesh Sivan. This was an unbelievable initiative from the South African Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein and I was privileged to learn with my son Samuel and a friend of his;
  • My Shiur (learning) with Pinchos Chalk on the Book of Ruth and the story of Tamar, plus some unbelievable insights into some facts regarding Work War 2; and
  • All the other topics I love to read about like business, health, triathlon, sport and religion.

One of the topics discussed in the Rich Roll Podcast – Are we spiritual beings in a physical body or vice versa?  I decided to try and to delve into this further and try to link this to the upcoming festival of Shavout (the Festival of Weeks), the Book of Bamidbar and my experiences over the last week. Don’t expect a lowly person like myself to have an answer!!!

Shavout represents the foundation of Judiasim. It is the day on which the Torah was given to the Jewish people. In Jewish learning the numbers have special significance. The number seven represents the natural and physical world. There are seven days in a week, the creation took seven days and many of the Jewish holidays are seven days. The number eight represents beyond the physical to the spiritual. Eight is the number of completion. The Tabernacle was dedicated in an eight-day ceremony. Male children are circumcised on the eighth day. Chanukah is an eight-day holiday. Pesach (Passover) which is celebrated 7 weeks (7×7) before Shavout is the beginning of a process that ends on Shavout. Pesach is all about Jewish freedom, but what use is freedom without aspirations and goals. Shavout is the day after the 7 weeks, Shavout is the day the Jewish people “metamorphosed” out of the physical realm and into the spiritual realm of the number eight.

One of the things we do on Shavout is read the Book of Ruth. In a nutshell. Naomi and her husband Elimelech run away from Israel as they don’t want to give charity. After many years, Naomi and her daughter in-law Ruth return to Israel poverty stricken after losing their husbands in a foreign land. Ruth sticks with Naomi, learns from Naomi and ultimately marries a man Boaz and is the heir to the Jewish Dynasty of David. One of the lessons that we learn from the Book of Ruth who was originally a non-Jewish pagan princess, is that we can never know what the outcome of our actions are.

Getting back to where I started. Bamidabar, in the desert. The desert is a bleak and barren place, but amazing things can happen in a desert. Look at what the Isreali’s have done in the Negev and how they have brought it to “life”. Through our constant struggles to learn, to absorb, to improve ourselves both physically and spiritually we can change. Rabbi Berel Wein says “Bamidabar – in the desert is meant to convey a message of hope, constant redemption and re-birth”


[i] Kale or borecole is a vegetable with green or purple leaves, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. Kale is being called “the new beef”, “the queen of greens” and “a nutritional powerhouse.” Beyond the Kale is the title of Episode 29 of the Rich Roll Podcast.

NOTE: I have never tried Kale. I am planning to TRY make a salad using it this evening based on a recipe by Lisa Fallon Mindel It is also meant to be good in Smoothies!!


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