Year-end Top 10
It’s that time of year when everyone tries to describe the last 365 days, give or take, by organizing them into lists. Ten worst moments. Ten favorite movies. Ten speeding tickets I should have received but there was no cop in sight. Ten stupidest things my spouse said.
This focus on (one might say obsession with) the orderliness – the completeness – of the number 10 is not a new thing. Consider the Torah’s 10s:
- The number of generations from creation to Noah? Ten. Likewise from Noah to Abraham.
- Abraham’s 10 trials of faith. I can’t remember them all, but they include his own circumcision, leaving his father’s house, and almost murdering his son on the altar.
- Ten sayings/commandments. Duh.
- As we are reminded in this week’s Torah portion: Blood, frogs, gnats, wild beasts, pestilence, boils, hail. Seven and 3 more to come — locust, darkness, death of the first-born.
- Jacob’s 10 sons with everyone but his beloved Rachel (i.e., his other wife & Rachel’s sister, Leah, and the 2 “maidservants” Bilhah & Zilpah).
- The 10 righteous people not to be found in all of Sodom & Gomorrah.
- Gaggle of spies sent out to scout out the promised land. Their inability to see the forest for the trees – or the possibilities for the threatening natives – landed the Israelites in the desert for another 40 (four X 10) years.
- I had to look this one up: the number of younger sons who capture the #1 spot in the spotlight. Abel, Shem (Noah’s #2), Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim (Joseph’s #2), Moses, David. Also Judah (another one of Jacob’s sons), which turned out to be the only tribe that chose David over Saul (a long story) as King.
- The 10 Lost Tribes, done in by the Assyrians. Or did I spot them in Las Vegas with Elvis?
- Ten rebellions by the Israelites while wandering around in the desert.
Also, there are the 10 sephirot of Kabbalistic mysticism, the 10 attributes of God ranging from nothingness to wisdom to strength. And the Ten Days of Awe. And the 10 horns on the Beast of Revelation and the 10 rules given to Krishna in his torment and a whole host of other examples found in and outside of Jewish text.
So. I’ve set you up, dear reader, for my list of 10. Favorite posts and poems for your reading pleasure. Only a couple of them are mine.
- The Awkward Offering that received the most comments was one about Lashon haRa, the evil tongue, a.k.a. gossip & trash talk.
- The runner-up in the most comments category is about the luz bone, the tip of the spine that encloses each person’s truest essence.
- The most beautiful Jewishly themed tattoo appeared here on January 4th.
- I don’t know how to talk to anyone anymore. This is from Emily Hauser in her blog post about Israel, speech, love, and fury. Truth-telling.
- Wonderful poems by Rachel Barenblat, a.k.a. The Velveteen Rabbi. This is one of her Top 10 lists and well worth checking out.
- I love Michael Moore. Truly. Here’s one reason why — a note to the Democrats before the November elections. If only they had listened!
- A dirty Jewish joke with a tattoo in it.
- Brene Brown talks about vulnerability and perfection: 20 minutes and a paradigm shift.
- Two headlines I’m pretty sure are related – both from this week: Hugh Hefner (84) is engaged to his 3rd wife, age 24; and a guilty verdict for ex-Israeli President Moshe Katsav on rape & sexual assault charges.
- A blog dedicated to Torah & Harry Potter. Yes, you read that right. Who thinks of such things?
Happy reading & Happy New Year! Next week, I’ll be back with more traditional Torah musings.