Every Tuesday, I am blessed to sit in the well-windowed dining room of an intelligent and spiritually sensitive young woman, who patiently listens to me butcher the ancient language of the Babylonians. Over cinnamon chai tea, we study Sefer Daniel. As she is learned enough to read and translate the Hebrew commentaries, I get the task of dragging us both through my version of the Aramaic, followed by my more adept reading of The Stone Edition English translation. (It doesn't matter to me that this was the language of the Galut of the time. Hebrew is hard enough! My poor chavruta suffers gracefully through my reading AND my whining.)
It's interesting stuff. Nothing Hollywood could produce holds to this a candle for the weaving of dream and reality. (Apologies to my friend, R.Y.) There is a gigantic and terrifying statue of gold and iron and stone. We witness survival in impossible situations, from fire and wild beasts. A meteoric rise to success and power is followed by the utter desolation of the thundering fall to disgrace, penance, and renewed greatness.
The lessons our sages learn from this incredible story are extremely timely. Amazing how the words of Tanach seem to be coming true -- a veritable road map through the politics of the days before the coming of the Moshiach (bimhera v'ameinu).
When she leaves the table to bring our other chavruta to the learning, I stand and look out at the beauty that is her back yard.
There is much comfort in gazing out toward the Mediterranian Sea, dreaming of our Avot, as they faithfully made their way north toward the Holy Temple. Our history is so palpable here, as is our future. ("Someday, My son, all of this will be yours...")
The young Torah scholar joins us, and the learning is enhanced.
Watching the faces of little future talmidei chachamim during learning is instructive. Is it my imagination? Or does my young friend seem to be remembering some of the Torah he and the angel studied together, before he left the safe shelter of his mother's womb?
I am certain he understands more of this than I do. There are so many questions I would like to ask him. But the irony is that when he is articulate enough to give it over to me, he will still be in the process of re-learning it himself.
And so it goes...
May our learning be ilui nishmat HaRav Daniel ben HaRav Chaim HaLevy, and l'refua shelaima l'Tehila Sara bat Yocheved.