Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shavuot 5769: Commitment

This evening is Shavuot, the anniversary of the revelation at Sinai. There is much to be said about the day of giving the Ten Commandments by God to Israel. One tradition surrounding Shavuot is the recitation of the Book of Ruth. Five holidays during the Jewish Year have an associated biblical reading of an entire book from the writings, known as a Megilah. Most known of course is Esther and Purim. There is also Ecclesiastes for Sukkot, the Song of Songs for Passover, and Lamentations for Tisha B’Av. Each book has some association to the holiday involved. Lamentations bewails the destruction of Jerusalem, Purim the telling of the story of the holiday. Some are more difficult. Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes may reflect the feeling of the season of the year, spring and autumn respectively.
Ruth might be both of these. Most obvious is the seasonal aspect. Besides being the giving of Torah, Shavuot marks the barley harvest, and we read in Ruth:
22. So Naomi returned, and Ruth the Moabite, her daughter-in-law, with her, who returned from the country of Moab; and they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest. [Ruth 1]

But there is another reason. The story of Ruth is about the Moabite woman Ruth and her Israelite Mother-in-law Naomi. Naomi, her husband and their two sons try to escape a famine in Israel by moving to the neighboring country of Moab. Her sons marry Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah, while there. Tragically, Naomi’s husband and sons die in Moab. With Naomi, Ruth and Orpah now widows, Naomi decides to go back to her hometown of Bethlehem, hearing the famine is over. She insists that her daughters in law stay with their native people and their religion. Orpah eventually agrees to stay in Moab, but Ruth is adamant
16. And Ruth said, Do not entreat me to leave you,
Or to keep from following you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
Where you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
Your God my God;
17. Where you die, will I die,
There will I be buried;
May the Lord do so to me, and more also,
If even death parts me from you. [Ruth 1]

With this statement, Ruth and Naomi travel on to Bethlehem, to live as paupers until a combination of Ruth’s determination and a relative of Naomi’s late husband invoking Levirate marriage laws end up with a happy ending. Ruth has a baby boy named Obed. So happy is the ending we are told the descendants of the baby,
22. And Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David. [Ruth 4]

The Davidic line of kings comes from this story, and thus by implication the lineage of the Messiah. As is made clear by the story, Ruth is not Jewish. What makes her a matriarch of line of David and Solomon? There have been several answers. One is her lying at the feet of Boaz and asking him for the levirate marriage. Yet my belief is that it is 1:16-17 above that is the true act that marks her as Jewish. We read at Sinai that the people said we will do and we will hear. [Exodus 24:3] The reversal of doing and hearing is taken as a deep sense of faith and commitment. So too with Ruth, explaining poetically she will follow Naomi and Naomi’s people. It is commitment that is key, a commitment to God. The Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai will cross through Moab in their journey to the Land. There they will face their last test of commitment. Some fail in the worship and subsequent plague of Baal Peor. Most of the Israelites will succeed in Moab, and resist temptation. Ruth, in her journey from Moab to Judah will do the same. By making clear her commitment to Naomi and Naomi’s God, she makes clear her commitment to God.
Passover was the time to declare our freedom. But freedom without a structure, a commitment to something, is chaos. After reflecting on what our commitment might be for 49 days, we make that commitment. The people at Sinai went through a conversion on the first Shavuot, as did Ruth when she declared “your god (is) my god.” The commitment made them Jewish. All were converts by embracing a structure of mitzvot and God. Thus Ruth and the people on this day commit to the path of mitzvot.
Yet, to commit to something often means breaking other commitments. For Ruth to commit to there shall be no other gods before me requires breaking her old commitments to other gods. She does break those commitments of course. I was thinking about such commitments in the last weeks due to a problem some of my congregants are going to run into, which is part of one I described last week.
Up till a few weeks ago, I was involved with creating a schedule of Torah readings for Shabbat services. This may sound easy, but as a Reform synagogue using the Conservative triennial cycle there are lots of problems. The triennial cycle breaks the Torah reading into three parts read on successive years. One problem is that when there is a double portion, one must break up the portions in a particular order that takes into account all three years of the cycle. This makes for a rather confusing set of rules to get a complete cycle of Torah readings, one that few understand, particularly when our synagogue does not have the same start of the cycle as the Conservative movement uses. We are pretty much alone to my knowledge in our use of this system in this way, so there are no references to follow. The second problem reared its ugly head a few months ago when our cantor noted a problem with the schedule. Using the Conservative schedule, Shavuot is two days long, so this Shabbat is a special Shavuot reading. But Reform has only a one day Shavuot, making this a regular Shabbat, so our schedule is off. There are ways to accommodate this, and the way the cantor and I picked means there is a few weeks where our synagogue will be off the readings of other synagogues. There has been confusion already.
As I mentioned last week, when I decided to cut out a lot of the activities that I can’t handle in my schedule, my involvement with the Torah schedule was one of those casualties. I made new commitment to do my job so I get paid, and to spend time with Sweetie. I could live a life of exhaustion or be committed to a few things that really matter. But the questions about this system continue. So I have had to resist getting involved again, and getting lost in this quagmire. I had had questions headed my way, and as angry or disappointed as those people might be at my answer, I have to stick to my commitment and tell them “I can’t help”
For many of us, it is easy to get sucked into things we made a commitment not to do. But that is part of our positive commitments too. It can hurt to not help someone and to stick on track. But that is the proverbial paved road of good intentions. We must stick to our primary commitments, or get hopelessly lost. When I was involved with this, I gave 100%. But when I realized what I need to do required dropping it, it means dropping 100% of it. That is the commitment Ruth is embracing. She is embracing a commitment to never see her family, friends or gods ever again. It is a huge commitment, far more than a small volunteer position. For those I know who make such commitments I have a huge amount of respect. It’s not easy changing everything, as I’ve learned in the last few months. But sometimes the really good commitments require it. The commitment to true love either of God or one’s soulmate does require it.
As we celebrate the commitment tonight, may we pray all our commitments are for good, and we leave our commitments for bad behind.

Friday, May 22, 2009

B’midbar 5769: Inventories and the Final Drash

This week we begin the Book of Numbers with the following:
1. And the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they came out from the land of Egypt, saying, 2. Take a census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by families, by the house of their fathers, according to the number of names, every male by their polls; 3. From twenty years old and upward, all who are able to go forth to war in Israel; you and Aaron shall count them by their armies.

This week we take a census of those able to be called to combat among the people. The rest of the portion is the names and numbers of these Israelites who are at Sinai. It is from this rather boring beginning that we get the English name for this portion, Numbers.
But in Hebrew, we call this portion B’midbar, which means in the wilderness. Hebrew books are named for the first significant word in their text, but this word is very descriptive of the entire book. B’midbar is the story of moving from Sinai to the land of Israel, and the trials and tribulations of the people along the way.
B’midbar as a story presents problems for many due to its violence. During the text everybody but three people die, all at the command of the Lord. Such an outcome is a bit much for many, complaining that a religious book condones that many people killed.
While the Torah is written in the language of humans, and we are to look at the literal meaning, I tend not to look at the literal story. This is not a story of individuals, but of a nation. Components of that nation do exist, and are specified but they are part of a collective. Moses, Miriam, Aaron, Joshua, Caleb, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Pinchas and to some extent Balaam are just parts which may signify other parts of this collective body. In my view, this body is not even a body, but a mind, a soul. In this view, B’midbar is more than a really bad 40 year long tale of the road, but a journal of transformation from one state of mind to another. People in this view are different thoughts or scripts that we live with and dictate our actions.
But to begin this process of change we need to know who we are. We need to do not a census but an inventory, a taking stock of who is up there in our heads. This is the meaning of this week’s portion, to figure out who is really up there. Who is really making this journey? Where do we start? What is good and what might be problematic?
I’ve realized I’m about to begin another of those journeys. Change will require me to think about a lot of things differently. A change that happened about a year ago however is at the core of what has been happening to me. This change came at a big cost for me, the excessive exhaustion I’ve been feeling lately. A stomach and back that is killing me, a body that aches just about everywhere, an otherwise sharp memory forgetting way too much, and eyes that just won’t stay open are all signs of a bigger danger. Fighting to keep myself from falling asleep at the wheel is now a daily occurrence on my commute home. For weeks I know it has been building but this weekend was the worst. The 60 hour work weeks are getting to me. Even Shabbat is a mere drop of relief in a desert of exhaustion. During this weekend I decided to makes another journey through that desert to a land of Milk and Honey where I am living a life without this exhaustion. Working my consulting Job, my Quality job, and my computer job is just too much. Like most people in this economy, dropping one or all of them is not an option. I want to go to my wedding and not my funeral, but at the moment I’m headed towards my funeral just as fast as towards my wedding.
I made a few important decisions. The first is that I have to get rid of anything that wasn’t helping me make a living. What that translates to is dropping all of my volunteer activities at my Synagogue, some of my classes I’m taking, and most importantly dropping Shlomo’s Drash. Yes, I decided this is the last Shlomo’s Drash you will ever read. This column takes about four to six hours a week to write. Many of you might have noticed I have been reprinting old columns a lot lately, or posting this on Friday or even the Monday after and that is why – I have no time to write in the six days I do write. This was a decision I made after a lot of agonizing about it. For seven years I dreamed of being a Jewish scholar. Last year I realized the time investment to get that dream going and get some books, speeches, and other writing out into the market was not going to happen if I was to make a living in the meantime. That time consumption eventually ate the Wednesday morning I had allocated for Shlomo’s Drash, the one thread left of that dream. And now, just to keep up, I’m going to have to cut out the Drash completely.
Interestingly this issue of energy comes up in the Talmud.
Our Rabbis taught: Four things require to be done with energy, namely, [study of] the Torah, good deeds, praying, and one's worldly occupation. [Brachot 32b]
While I am essentially making my life lopsided here, the Perkei Avot believes there should be balance in these
Rabban Gamaliel the son of R. Judah the Patriarch said: excellent is the study of the Torah together with a worldly occupation, for the energy [taken up] by both of them keeps sin out of one's mind [ Avot 2:2]
There is also this
Our Rabbis taught: And thou shall gather in thy grain. [Deut 11:14] What is to be learnt from these words? Since it says, This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, [Joshua 1:8] I might think that this injunction is to be taken literally. Therefore it says, ‘And thou shall gather in thy corn’, which implies that you are to combine the study of them with a worldly occupation. This is the view of R. Ishmael [Brachot 35]
To exclude Torah study from my life would indeed be dangerous. One works along with the other to make the person who does not sin. One alone is not enough.
It was last Sunday morning I was thinking about what I was going to write in this last column when I came up with the idea of the inventory. Thing was as I really began to do that inventory, I realized something. This is not just a matter of running out of time, but where my time is going. Overwork slows down my productivity so what I am doing in eight hours probably could get done in two if I was fully functional. But more importantly, the pile of stuff is not completely my fault. Most are projects I started months, if not a year ago that I am waiting for others to get me something. What I was remiss in doing was making sure they were getting me information in an efficient manner, so everything piled up on my desk. Ironically it is not a lack of time that is the problem but how I manage my resources that is. The only way I know is by keeping inventory of my resources, and allocating them appropriately.
That of course is what God is telling Moses to do. This is not just a count, but a way of understanding what resources are available. As we will see this is not a single event, but a process that will continue. At the end of B’midbar in Chapter 26, there will be another census to see the change from the beginning to the end of the journey. The journey of B’midbar is most of all a change of how we view the world. On one level it is the transformation of a people from passive slave mentality to the active observance of mitzvot, Avodat Hashem. The way there is not by killing people but by changing ideas. Each of the negative types of thinking that we will encounter in various characters in the next few weeks represents the negative thinking, the limiting beliefs or the self destructive behavior we all have at some time. In the face of adversity, or even perceived adversity as we will see, how do the Israelites respond? In the same way, how do we respond to adversity? What is the right thing to do and what is the wrong? That is the journey we will take here in B’midbar.
I am thus left with a decision. As much as I would love to reclaim that four to six hours a day to make a living, I also realized to do so would kill me. Maybe my salary feeds my body, but Shlomo’s Drash feeds my soul. Without it I would be dead spiritually, as it is my deepest most beloved Torah study. I need the Torah and the worldly occupation, one without the other is death. The time management inventory points out a lot I can do to change how I deal with time, and reclaim that time in another manner to make the Drash possible. So I will continue to write this, with the hope and prayer that one day it will be both my Torah Study and my worldly occupation.
Cayn Yehi Ratzon.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Behar Behukotai 5769:Sabbatical Change

This week we have a double portion, yet it begins with a different type of Shabbat:

2. Speak to the people of Israel, and say to them, When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath to the Lord. 3. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its fruit; 4. But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest to the land, a sabbath for the Lord; you shall not sow your field, nor prune your vineyard. 5. That which grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your vine undressed; for it is a year of rest to the land. 6. And the sabbath produce of the land shall be food for you; for you, and for your servant, and for your maid, and for your hired servant, and for the stranger who sojourns with you, 7. And for your cattle, and for the beast that are in your land, shall all its produce be food.[Leviticus 25 ]

As discussed several times before Shabbat is a rest from the work from the six other days of the week. The shmita year, or Sabbatical, provides a rest for the land. While many have debated the economic points about the Shmita year, I think there is something else that needs to be explored: how does it affect people every seven years.
As they did with the carrying prohibition on Shabbat, and what to do with large amounts of leavened products on Passover, the rabbinic mind found a way to handle the issue of the shmita year, and actually let produce grow on it in the Sabbatical year. Like the hometz locked in a closet for the duration of Passover. The fields are sold to a trustworthy gentile for the year, and thus are not owned by Jews. Modern Israel does indeed follow this practice, though some still think it's a cheat and leave their fields fallow.
A year ago it was a Shmita year in Israel. I was there on a tour with my mom at the time. One of our stops of course was the Kotel. There I placed a small note in the wall, and had a profound experience. One was to hear clearly in my mind the words of the Song of Songs: “My dove in the cleft in the rock” as a dove flew overhead an landed on a crack on the wall. I also heard something else too, a line from Richard Bach's book The Bridge Across Forever. To say the least not only was the note granted but the line from the book that has struck me true since I read it decades ago also came true:
you already know her
. The change that I have experienced in the last year is phenomenal. Sweetie came into my life, and I realized this week how much has changed in my environment, and what now needs to change: my mind.
It is a very different thing after living so many years as a completely single person being in a relationship, and having to think about someone else, and she has to think about me. There's a lot of give and take, a lot of negotiation, but in the context of someone I'm so deeply in love with and connected to, it is a blessing to have those discussions. It is neither the Drama we both can't stand or something we have to work on. Someday we'll live under the same roof, and how we define each of our personal spaces and boundaries will bring more adjustments to how I think and live. Those too, will be a blessing.
After thirteen years in the same apartment and now contemplating spending my life with Sweetie, I realized something. I have some very set patterns, and because of those set patterns I have not been able to see where I can improve and grow. The Torah this week tells us that the Sabbatical is for the land to rest. Yet, in doing so it makes a change every sevens years in the status quo of how people think. How one gets their food or makes their living changes radically. In that change we see all the things we take as the status quo in a new light, and we have the ability to see if we should change or not.
Whether one is forced to trust a stranger for year with a livelihood and six years of personal effort, work, or stops and does nothing for year, the farmer who observes the sabbatical year changes his whole perspective. Even looking at what is good and what is evil changes. Looking at those who have nothing, the widow and the orphan, changes.
This may be the reason so many curses are connected to the observance of the shmita year. We need that time, otherwise we might descend into evil deeds without even noticing. Not only does the land rest if we are exiled from the land but in exile we are exposed to the extreme in a change of world view: we are thrown from our home to live among strangers, and left there until we repent fully of our evil deeds.
The point of the Sabbatical to me is clear. It is to allow the land to rest, but it also to allow a year of reflection and change in ourselves.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Drash Emor 5769: The Shabbat Flunk Day.

This week, we once again have a schedule of holidays, which begins with:
2 Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: These are My fixed times, the fixed times of the Lord, which you shall proclaim as sacred occasions. 3 On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a sabbath of complete rest, a sacred occasion. You shall do no work; it shall be a sabbath of the Lord throughout your settlements. [Leviticus 23]

This is one of ten mentions of Shabbat that provides us with insight about Shabbat. Notably it is the holiday mentioned first. Unlike any of the annual ones listed like Passover, or counting the Omer or Sukkot, it is only Shabbat that is a weekly occurrence.
It was Philo of Alexandria who first made a leap based on a passage from Exodus. Shabbat is about Human rest because human rest allows us to be more productive the other days of the week. In that passage also known as the V'shamru prayer in the liturgy, there is a mention that on the seventh day God rested and was v'yinafash.
16. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant. 17. It is a sign between me and the people of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.[Exodus 31]

This is an example of a noun acting like a verb. Nefesh means soul, life or body. In this verbal form, it means to refresh one self, to resupply the body and soul. God does so in order that we follow his example, and keep ourselves in prime condition to serve Hakadosh Baruch Hu.
It would be just as easy to say that we should rest one out of seven days. Yet, such a commandment would prove useless. While the intent is wonderful, it requires some structure such as a set time in order for it to get executed in some way. I thought a lot about that while contemplating how I'm overwhelmed with stuff; mostly work related projects that need to get done.
I had just written a message on Facebook complaining of how tired I was when I started finding status updates from several of my college friends about Flunk Day. Flunk Day at my college is a day in the last trimester of the school year when classes are canceled. Everybody, both students and faculty, just stops and has a crazy day of merely fun activities. In the tension of that last part of the school year and after a long winter, it was always a welcome relief. I was not one for much of the fun of Flunk day when I was in school, though I do have a few favorite memories. Actually my favorite Flunk Day tradition was to sleep in. For the most part, I did nothing that day, just rested. Being non-practicing at the time, I really didn’t know about Shabbat.
Twenty years ago, if you were to ask me about Shabbat, I would tell you it was God's day of rest, not mine. I would be very puzzled if you told me that I was supposed to rest. For me, it seemed Shabbat was more about following a set of rules and prayers. It seemed to me to be a lot of work, more work and more stress than a regular day at school. From my Conservative synagogue and Orthodox schooling, I learned that by saying or doing anything wrong, I was a bad person. Such structure is known as keva. Being brought up with too much Keva had taken its toll. By the time I was in college, I turned away from Judaism because a religion of just Keva seemed too heavy for me. A Shabbat of just Keva held neither spiritual connection nor Physical benefit for me.
About ten years ago I was on another College campus, this time in Corvallis Oregon. While there was no Flunk Day, there was Shabbat. Yet, this Shabbat was so different from the ones of my youth. It was the ALEPH Kallah, the educational gathering of the Jewish Renewal movement. Within the Renewal movement is a strong emphasis on Kavvanah. Kavvanah is the intention and feeling of mitzvah. Shabbat this time made me think of Flunk day again. Friday night was a night of a singing and dancing prayer service with an incredible Shabbat dinner following it. While I did get up early, it was to go to a beautiful prayer service of singing and chanting. Much of the rest of the day was resting and spending time relating to people. It was such a different experience, and a very spiritually uplifting one. I was once again hooked on Shabbat there, where I learned what the Kavvanah of Shabbat was.
Abraham Joshua Heschel spends much of his writings discussing polarities, and the polarity of keva and Kavvanah becomes common in his writings. He believes that there is a need for balance between these two, for they each perform a function to optimal spiritual experience. Keva provides the structure, while Kavvanah provides the feeling. One without the other tends to not work so well. In my view, Keva alone is cold, weighty and conformist, while Kavvanah by itself tends towards chaos and self absorption.
So several years later, I moved from Renewal to Reform Judaism in order to find the balance that worked for me. I've found Shabbat to be both Keva and Kavvanah in the minyan where I go to services regularly. Yet last week was one of those completely overwhelming weeks, so overwhelming I broke down and cried on several occasions. I was completely wiped out. Saturday morning however, I got up and did something I’ve never done before: Declare a Shabbat Flunk Day. After making an incredible breakfast, I got back into bed until 11:30. Doing nothing but dozing and being warm in bed was so wonderful. Getting up late, and heading up to the family’s vacation home, only stopping for a wonderful lunch with the love of my life was even better. Last Saturday I dumped the Keva of my Saturday mornings for pure Kavvanah of a flunk day. And it was very good.
Now that is not for every week, to be sure. Usually we need balance between Keva and Kavvanah. But every once in a while, when the Keva is overwhelming, it’s nice to take a Shabbat flunk day, skip service and just enjoy a day of rest. Such days restore the Kavvanah to the balance. I sure enjoyed mine.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Drash Acharei Mot- Kedoshim 5769:The Spirit and Science of Blood.

This week we have a large list of commandments following the death of Aaron's two sons Nadab and Abihu. Among them is this passage:
10. And whoever there is of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among you, who eats any kind of blood; I will set my face against that soul who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11. For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul. 12. Therefore I said to the people of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood. 13. And whoever there is of the people of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among you, who hunts and catches any beast or bird that may be eaten; he shall pour out its blood, and cover it with dust. 14. For it is the life of all flesh; the blood of it is for its life; therefore I said to the people of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any kind of flesh; for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off. [Leviticus 17]
It is repeated later in the second part of our double portion.
You shall not eat any thing with the blood; nor shall you use enchantment, nor observe times.

The prohibition of blood is a interesting one. Scholars cannot find another group within the region of the Israelites which practiced this prohibition. Torah however forbids Jew and gentile alike from eating blood. It's first case is when God prohibits Noah and his sons from eating blood.
Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things. 4. But flesh with its life, which is its blood, you shall not eat.[Gen 9]
In many of these verses is nefesh the world for life and body. Nefesh however may also be translated as soul. To eat blood is to eat the soul of the creature, to eat it's life-force. In our portion we are told explicitly and repeatedly that blood is for God alone. For this reason there is a death penalty meted out for eating blood, but an odd one: karet. Karet come from the word to cut off in Hebrew. Often in these verses about the eating blood there is a penalty of cutting off the person from the congregation. While one might think this means in a literal sense to excommunicate a person, it actually is a death penalty meted out by God. Based on Psalm 90:10 the number of our years are seventy, we all have a number of years we are to live which are planned ahead by God. But those years are shortened when we engage in activities that carry a karet penalty. Desecrating Shabbat, the sexual transgressions which is also part of this portion, touching a dead person and not getting cleaned by the waters of sprinkling all carry a karet punishment.
I have been having a problem with the text. With last week's talk of tzaarat we had some form of skin disease which could affect clothing and buildings as well. This week we have these prohibitions concerning blood, and the prohibitions about certain types of sexual behavior. Both make me think of my public health profession, yet as a student of Torah, I also look at this in a spiritual way. The two are not very compatible and so I am left to dance a razor edge fence looking at both.
From the public health view I look at risk behaviors. And all of the items that would shorten one's life according to God also have the potential to shorten one's life in reality too. Excessive stress and exhaustion comes from a seven-day work week, Various both genetic and transmitted diseases can come form the sexual practices of Leviticus 18. And then there is the blood borne pathogens, the various diseases that come from body fluids. I can think of all of this as an ancient practice for health. Avoiding dead bodies, blood and improper sexual relations was just healthy.
On the other hand, there is the spiritual side, one I'm not as clear about lately. From the spiritual side there is a commandment a mitzvah that eating blood is not allowed by god many of karet punishments are also Huqim, laws that do not have a good reason, they are just what God wants us to do. We make a connection with God when we fulfill the rule. As part of my own spiritual practice, I do follow the blood rule, and since the same things that make steak red is what makes blood red, so I don't eat any red meat, even Kosher red meat. The spirit of the animal is still too close for me to eat.
These two positions just don't seem to want to reconcile, and yet both are true, and I believe both of them. While they should be mutually exclusive, instead they both seem to be in my blood. But how they both can be there I don't know.
Any ideas?