Archive for July, 2013

The Shabbos of Parsha Mattos/Masei is the longest of our year (when these two parshot are read together).  Usually, I have studied at least the Rashi for each parsha prior to Shabbos, and hopefully Sforno’s commentary as well.  I had only gotten through the first couple psukim of Masei, so I hadn’t thought about the list of Bnei Yisrael’s journeys contained in Masei.

And then it hit me.  42.  42!!  While there are other counts, Rashi’s count (accepted by other commentators) states that the number of journeys during the 40-year period in the Wilderness total 42.  I haven’t touched my Douglas Adams books for awhile, so I don’t know why this suddenly hit me, aside from the fact that some friends have become (seemingly) much more strident in their atheism lately.

I have always enjoyed Douglas Adams’ books, but it continually amazes me how (or WHY) he continually has to bring up G-d, or rather, his “disbelief” in the Creator.  This is something consistant with “celebrities” who are very public about their belief in disbelief.  To paraphrase the bard of centuries ago, I think they dost protest too much.  Why would you feel the need to have a “monument” to your non-belief?  If truly you DON’T believe, then you’re just free to go on your merry little way!  If G-d is so absent from your perception of the world, why bring it up so much?

Back to 42.  In the Hitchhiker’s  Guide books, 42 is *the* answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.  (Of course, then one is asked what the actual question is.)  Mr. Adams was always very clear that he didn’t believe in G-d, that it was ridiculous, etc.  All the things that militant atheists go on about, making one wonder if they are really all that secure in their beliefs.  (See the “atheist monument” in Florida– when did NOT believing in something need a monument??)

Seems the “Universe” may have strung Mr. Adams along for an interesting ride.  In The Dirk Gently Detective Agency, the main character moonlights as a psychic.  When his predictions actually end up coming into being, he stands on the roof of a building, shaking his fist at the sky yelling, “Stop it!!”  If anyone would point out the significance of 42, and I have no idea if anyone mentioned this to Mr. Adams, I wonder if he wouldn’t have done the same thing.  I understand he was horrified when a young cancer patient found comfort in “knowing where your towel is” and was told she passed peacefully holding hers.  Taking the step into belief, or even faith can be a very frightening thing, especially if you are coming from a relatively secular background.  True faith, actual emunah, takes work and practice and patiently accepting all we are given to work with or overcome.  And that it is all for the best.

42 is quite significant, from the journeys of Bnei Yisrael in the Wilderness, to one of the names of G-d.  Or as Mr. Adams himself put it, “How many roads must a man walk down?  42”

My sole point here is that whether YOU ‘decide’ to believe or not, there is something more than we can ever know guiding, teaching, and making sure everything is for the best.  Mr. Adams had an incredible talent, but one that also dried up for long long periods of time.  Whether or not it was a call for introspection or repentance, who can tell?  As for me, I simply don’t understand how you can look around at the world, especially the natural world, and NOT see the Creator.  Who I also think has a great sense of humor, as demonstrated by all the connections possible with simply– 42.


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