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I suppose this gratitude deserves some explanation. After all, how can one be grateful for creepy crawly spiders and centipedes and bugs, etc. Just look at them! They are frightful looking creatures despite their generally small size. But because of their bizarre appearance (to us humans anyway), these critters are often unfairly maligned. Before I go any further, let me be clear in stating that I don’t particularly like the little critters in an up-close-and-personal way. They have their places and I have mine. Having said that though, I got to thinking about their purpose in this world. I have read about the ecological balance within nature, the importance of each organism in maintaining that balance, and the oftentimes overlooked value of each creature in the chain of life. This spider looks pretty large and pretty close. Don’t fear because neither is true. It is about the size of a nickel, and this shot was taken with a telephoto lens. When I was growing up I remember my grandmother admonishing me to leave the house spiders alone. The only time we would destroy one is when it interfered with our health or well-being (as in dropping down into our food). Even then, if it was possible to scoop the little thing up and release it outside then that was the better thing to do. Within Judaism, many will ignore spiders much as Grandmamma did, remembering when King David hid from his foes in a cave. A spider built a large web covering the opening to the cave so that when King David’s enemies came looking for him, they bypassed the cave because the spider-web gave the impression that no one was hiding within. Out of respect to the spider that saved King David’s life, we leave spiders to their own devices when possible. Spiders offer services beyond protecting Israel’s king, too; they capture small, irritating varmints in their webs which in time become delicacies for spiders to feast upon, thus keeping the “creepy crawly” population to a manageable size. Spider webs are used to spin fine silks to create exquisite garments for our enjoyment. Whether I know how they function in the world or not, all critters have their purpose for being. It all sounds yucky, yes, but the entire process works to support a dynamic life balance on our planet earth. Keeping ALL of this in mind, yes, I am grateful for creepy crawlies!

The festival of Shavuot begins this evening at sundown.  For those of us in the diaspora, the celebration lasts for two days (one day for Israeli citizens…long story for another post.)  The festival falls 50 days after Passover in celebration of the new grains of the summer wheat harvest in Israel.  Shavuot is also when we celebrate Matan Torah, the giving of the Torah, because it was at this time of year when Moses received the Torah on Mount Sinai.  Some of our present day customs include decorating our homes with bouquets of flowers and eating sumptuous dishes made with cheeses and other dairy and grain products.  Many people will stay up throughout the night to learn from our holy writings and greet the dawn with words of Torah on their minds and in their hearts.  For a little more detail about this wonderful festival, see here.

I will be off-line for a few days as I celebrate this wonderful festival!  I am truly grateful for Matan Torah and the festival of Shavuot!  Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday!)

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