Shalom Aleichem!

I’m in a great mood and I hope you are, too! The PediSukkah (Sukkah on a bike!) was a big hit on campus.  Thanks to Queens College Vice President Adam Rockman for his enthusiasm about the project, and to Lt. Rufus Massiah for making the necessary arrangements with Public Safety.

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The Talmud states that “words of truth are recognizable.”

Although at times elusive, we all strive for it.  The quest for truth takes people to the corners of the globe, and the deepest recesses of one’s mind and heart.

This week, Jews across the globe begin the annual cycle of the Torah reading. At the beginning of the Torah, there is an intriguing allusion to truth.  The Baal HaTurim points out that the last letter of the first three words of theTorah,  בראשית ברא אלקים, “In the beginning G-d created,” can be rearranged to spell the word אמת, truth.

Additionally, the last letter of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th words, ברא אלקים את, “G-d created” (note: the 4th word has no actual translation) also spells the word אמת.

The great Chassidic leader, Rabbi Yechezkel Shraga Halberstam of the Sanz dynasty, wondered, Why is the first Torah allusion to truth out of order, while for the second allusion the letters are in order?

Rabbi Halberstam explains that at first, truth can come “out of order.” Things are not always what they seem, and one must often “rearrange” things to get to the truth.

However, after some time (the 2nd allusion mentioned above), truth becomes more apparent; one no longer needs to “rearrange the letters.”

Rabbi Halberstam gives an example of constructing a building.  First one must lay the foundation, yet at this stage, the building (“truth”) is not apparent.  Furthermore, if one comes across the resources for the roof before he has purchased the cement for the foundation, he will certainly not miss the opportunity to get part of the building — albeit out of order.

So too, we must grab on to any vestige of truth we encouter, even if it is “out of order.”  Life does not always (heh heh, actually, perhaps almost never?) give us what we need, when we need it (or so we think).

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, or as we like to say around here, when life gives you limes, make limeade!

The holiday of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah begin tonight, and lead right into Shabbat, so I’ll be off the grid for three days, celebrating with students, alumni, family and friends. Happy Sukkot!