Tag Archives: The Nine Days

Stinky & Smelly In Jerusalem…and loving it!

Getting dressed this morning, I noticed my reflection in the mirror.

‘Man! You’re Ugly!’, I blurted out to myself.

Now just be sure, we’re on day five of the nine days: that means no shaving, no haircuts, almost no laundry, and bathing restrictions. And we’re in Jerusalem, where it’s sunny and hot. As one of my sisters would put it delicately, ‘Josh, you’re a bit ripe’.

But as I reflected on the unkemptness of my appearance and how gross it feels to be wearing re-runs, I realized the deeper meaning of the Galut exile and the promise of Geula redemption.

For me, the fundamental truth of life is that my eyes deceive me all of the time. My default setting is to judge a book by it’s cover. To come to sweeping conclusions and lifelong decisions based entirely on superficialities and half-stories. I’m the original sucker. 

That’s the source of my misery. It’s also probably the source of your misery.

Judaism was the answer for me because it teaches me that a deeper story lies beneath and that story is a good story; in fact, it’s the greatest story ever told because it’s the story of the universe. Judaism offers me a personal redemption because it brings me into the flow of truth at it’s deepest levels.

Of course, realizations like that are never forever. Like an ‘iffy’ cell signal; sometimes I’m connected and sometimes I’m not. This Galut exile was the epic loss of connection with truth; we totally fell for all the delusions of externalities, circumstances, and impulse. The promised Geula redemption will come about when we, as a people, will return to our roots as the radical truth seekers that we once were and always will be.

All of this is brought home to me by my self imposed temporary ugliness and smelliness. I know that the stench and ‘grodiness’ (one of my kid’s words) is external to my true essence; underneath, just like you, I’m beautiful and really don’t smell like the men’s bathroom at the Vince Lombardi Rest Stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. But sometimes I’ve gotta embrace the false externals of apperance and sensory experience so that next week, the clean clothes, the luxorious hot showers, the shave and haircut will bring me to back to the truth of who I really am.

And I can’t wait!