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Archive for October, 2012

Hasidic Judaism is not one movement, but a collection of separate individual groups with some commonality. There are approximately 30 larger Hasidic groups, and several hundred minor groups. Though there is no one version of Hasidism, individual Hasidic groups often share with each other underlying philosophy, worship practices, dress (borrowed from local cultures), and songs (borrowed from local cultures). The word means “piety” or loving kindness and it is a branch of Orthodox Judaism that promotes spirituality and was founded in the 18th century Eastern Europe by Rabbi Issrael Baal Shem Tov as reaction against overly legalistic Judaism. His emphasis was on redemption for the individual in the present ,the here and now. Compare this with St.Pauline dictum:’Today is the day of Salvation’. Hasidim worshiped God not only in prayer and study, but at work and play. Their style was to make a song and dance about it literally!
Kabbalah and Rabbinic Judaism has different views of human sexuality. The former saw humanity in a more romantic light than the other.Rabbinic interpretations of the Torah is called the Mishna.
“Know whence you came: from a putrefying drop; and whither you are going: to a place of dust, worm and maggots.” Kabbalah on the other hand views man as the last highest of the divine emanation.(Isaac Luria)
Evil came into being and became intermixed with good at the moment of creation, when God’s masculine and female aspects became separated. This concept of ‘Ardhanari'( the concept of half male and female principle in godhead is also found in Hinduism)
When these aspects came as one it signified God’s wholeness. Kabbalah would denote denote the glory of god as shekinah (from Shachan meaning presence of God in human events. In my opinion any man who conducts himself from highest motives that stem from his moral sense, and where his own personal fortunes are at stake giving the glory of God precedence over his own, has God as his friend.(ack: wikipedia-Hasidic Judaism)
benny

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A Street Scene- China

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George Washington
(1732-1799) First US President
His education limited to accounting,arithmetic,geometry and geography he was more a man of action who used thought only as a mode of action. His half-brother with his connection to the wealthy Fairfaxes of Virginia, became mentor to George when their father died. A man with commanding presence, large-boned with grey blue eyes and brown hair,- he was six foot two, and man whose authority was many times sharpened by natural gravity of the man. From youth innured to hardships he would remark during the French and Indian war,’ I have a constitution hardy enough to encounter and undergo the most severe trials..’ In 1751 he accompanied his brother to Barbados where he caught small pox that pockmarked his face permanently. In the following year his brother died. He chose a career in military and he was promoted to the rank of colonel and after sixteen years of uneventful military life he retired his commission.
On Jan 6,1759 he married a widow,- reputedly the richest widow and they settled at Mt. Vernon. By 1761 he became one of the richest man and in the tradition of the Virginia gentry he entertained lavishly. By 1774 he was becoming increasingly drawn into the political issues of the day. He had opposed the Stamp Act and was present with Jefferson at the Raleigh Tavern on May 27,1774 when the Virginia legislators issued a vote of sympathy with the House of Burgesses that were dissolved by the Crown. Later that year he was present at the First Continental Congress at Philadelphia and the following Congress, in 1775, John Adams of Mass., proposed his name as the Commander-in-Chief. Unanimously elected he refused salary but only condition that Congress bear his expenses.
On July 4,1776 Congress declared Independence. Next month the British attacked.
Skipping the course and ultimate victory leading to the birth of a new nation I shall mention here the odds against which Washington was fighting ‘for the glorious Cause.’ Faced with desertion and lack of training among his troops he honed his skill at ‘tactical retreat’ and steel his soul to adversity till he could turn situation around in his favor. He spurned a suggestion when civil affairs in 1782 bordered on anarchy and the unpaid army was disgruntled that he proclaim himself as king and thus mend the nations battered political fabric with a strong and popular monarchy. As soon as he had achieved his objective he tendered his resignation and return to Mt. Vernon.
Even when he was elected as President he wished to be a President above politics and above all controversy. Exasperated by his Olympian aloofness his Vice President John Adams called him,’Old Muttonhead.’ Washington was conscious of his role in history and in the evolution of the fledgeling nation. He selected Thomas Jefferson, an ardent Republican, as Secretary of the State. Of his methods as the Chief Executive Jefferson later said,”His mind was slow in operation but sure in conclusion…Neither hatred or friendship would bias his decisions.” Knowing he was setting precedents he was conscious of maintaining in his public character, the dignity of his office. When on a visit to Massachusetts, Washington was invited to call on Governor John Hancock he responded,”The President of the US presents his best respects to the Governor, and has the honor to inform him that he shall be at home till 2’O clock.” In 1795 angered by the Republican attacks Washington reshuffled his cabinet. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton resigned. He was disillusioned by the factionalism,-now it is known as partisan politics, and attacks made on him in the press. Now sixty-five the old soldier was able to go home at last after two terms in office, here also he set a precedent in the number of times one may serve the highest office.

On Sat Dec14,1799 he died of a tracheal infection.
Here was a man whose stature can only assessed in the manner he has become the model for later generations of presidents. he could transcend his lack of formal education and of many advantages and having learned in a school of hard knocks to discipline himself to be above politics while maintaining the dignity of the office. There have been many Presidents since, who have had to face more challenges at home and aboard ( Lincoln and FDR for example) but their inspiration to stand the course at the critical moment of the nation’s history was a needful lesson learned from him. Washington the private Man and the Public Man never for once cut into the other.
benny

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Baby Bruno at Home

This is an illustration for the Baby Bruno series not yet published. I hope to get these into a final order by next year.

An excerpt of the story is as follows:
BEAR BRUNO MAKES A FRIEND ©

In the middle of a forest lived a family of bears. Bear Bruno was the youngest of three black bears. His older brothers had left home early. They hardly wrote home. Mama Bear was sure they forgot home. It made Mama Bear sometimes cry a little.
After drying her eyes she would call Baby Bruno to her side. He knew it. She was offering him a cookie.
She always had cookies at hand. From a jar she would give Papa Bear one cookie and tell him. “Not a crumb more! The rest is for Baby Bruno!” Baby Bruno loved cookies. Especially Crispies, and it was sensational! One cookie made his mouth water; and two made him smile but three cookies in one go made always a bellyful. Mama Bear wanted Bruno to stay home always. “I have a baby to cuddle,”she would say hugging her baby. When she was done she would hasten to her kitchen to make more Crispies. “Oh let him alone,”Papa Bear would growl in reply,”Baby Bruno tips 100- kilo on my weighing machine and he raids my honey-reserve.” Mama Bear always had a hard time to make him shut up.
Papa Bear loved his son. Every morning when he went off with his wife in tow he told his son to go out and enjoy himself. He was alone most of the time. However he knew how to enjoy himself. He would carry a pack of Crispies and set out. He loved to explore wild places. He always came home in time. He had once found a trail that took him to a clearing. It was his secret which he did not share it with any.
One summer day Bear Bruno went to the clearing. In the middle of a forest. He intended to be there for a few days. Having pitched his tent on a nice spot he took out various articles he had brought for his use. He set them in their proper places and he came out. It was a summer night and there was a beautuful moon overhead. He stretched himself on the ground. Never had he stopped to look at it closely. He could also see stars here and there. He got up and said, “I am the only one who has seen this!” He stood there lost in wonder. ” I wish I could share this wonderful moment with others!,”said he….( excerpt)

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Josephine de Beauharnais (1763-1814)

Empress Josephine whose life reads like a romance with heady mixture of opulence,court intrigue and reign of terror through all which she glided to become, the apex of any woman’s dream, the empress of France in the most glorious period of French history, is ultimately a tragedy. She is forever linked with the glorious career of Napoleon Bonaparte. She found the love of her life as he in turn which was for certain. There was to begin with the natural soil on two kindred spirits as theirs could do well but lost for different reasons. Consider their humble beginnings: both were lifted from their provincial backgrounds, he from the isle of Corsica and she from Martinique, and thrown into the cauldron of Parisian life. It was a time when momentous decisions were being taken by motley factions, stretching across the entire spectrum of Parisian political life. Girondins, Jacobins, the Royalists and moderates were as much the instigators as well as puppets of runaway events. It was the backdrop for their first meeting.
In July 1795 Paris was awash with women adventurers mostly seeking releif from the shadows of the guillotine and sensuality hung about like a heady perfume. As a widow struggling with two children Josephine’s plight was precarious as Napoleon newly promoted to the rank of Major-general and a promising career ahead of him was. He was in search of a mariage de convenance. Through Paul Barras he got a foothold into the salon of Mme.Tallien, his mistress and his getting to know Josephine, another of his many mistresses was in the cards. Later Napoleon would recall his first meeting thus,’ I was certainly not insensible to feminine charms, but I had never till then been spoilt by women…Madame de Beauharnais was the first woman who gave me any degree of confidence.’ At the age of thirty two she was no longer a beauty. Despite her blackened and bad teeth owing to her sugar- rich diet of her Martiinique days and sheen of her skin somewhat spoilt by open pores, she was fully compensated in other departments. She would require all the reserve of her natural grace and the elegance cultivated in her ancien régime milieu to enthrall him. How successful she was may be gauged from the fact that it was her name that he breathed last on May 5,1821.

Josephine, crowned Empress of France in 1804 was six years older to Napoleon. It is one of the ironies of individual life that in the play off between individual happiness and public ambitions Napoleon would have remained smitten of her feminine personality (that made him ten feet tall) had it not for his overweening ambition to write his name across the annals of European history. She on the other hand could have charmed her way through her many infidelities had it been possible for her to produce a son for him. During the Italian campaign his letters reveal his anguish and love-sickness. ‘Ah this evening, if I do not get a letter from you I shall be desperate.’ Soon after his return from Egypt he had a domestic crisis. He felt he had put all his happiness and trust on her alone and the news of her adultery drove him into despair.’The veil has at last fallen from my eyes..’ so he wrote to Joseph his elder brother.

Born in 1763, of the poverty stricken but titled Tascher family in the French Isle of Martinique, Josephine was raised far from Paris and the courtly schools for girls of distinction. Her first marriage to Alexandre de Beauharnais in 1779 undoubtedly suffered because of her husband’s repulsion of her “provincial ways.”
Eventually finding herself abandoned with two children, and without family assistance, she lived for a while in a convent with other outcast ladies of high birth.
Buoyed by her “apprenticeship” with women she was ready to find her niche in life. .
When the French Revolution broke out, she and her husband were reunited in prison in 1794. As a widow she became one of the society ladies whose professonalism gave her a sixth sense to know who was moving up and who was on the way out. It was thus she met Napoleon. He was looking for a woman of wealth and position. She became attracted to him as he began rising in rank and reputation within the new French government. Napoleon fell in love with her most passionately, and it was not long before they were married. At the time of marriage, she, however, was neither in love with him, nor ready to relinquish her old ways. It was rumored that she had in collusion with one of her lovers was speculating in shady deals behind her husband’s back. In her excuse she was alone who had to survive while Napoleon, on the other hand, came from a large family with strong familial loyalties. When his family met her she rightly guessed she would never be accepted as one of the family. His brother Joseph in fact began urging his brother to leave her as soon as he met her.
When she was crowned as the empress it was more a crown of thorns and their marriage was in a shambles. ‘It was not in the nature of Josephine to be able to reciprocate to a grand passion: and her cynically nonchalent infidelities were soon to quench Napoleon’s romantic love.’ Owing to the Imperial ambitions the barrenness of the empress was a sore sticking point and after the divorce he married Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria in 1810. Their love was replaced by a mutual affection,tolerance and cameraderie. At St. Helena he admitted, ‘Josephine told lies practically all the time, but with elegance. I can say she was the woman whom I loved the most’. Mme. De Rémusat, the wife of Napoleon’s court chamberlain, a critic of Napoleon, however, conceded,’he (Napoleon) would have been a better man if he had been more and better loved’.
Finally, in 1814, Josephine caught an infection and quickly died. The one source of happiness, her children, was a legacy she was to leave Napoleon. Her son, Eugene served Napoleon faithfully like a son, and her daughter, Hortense, married into the Bonaparte family herself. Her numerous grandchildren all loved Josephine dearly at the time of her death. They were the chief mourners at Josephine’s huge funeral, which was also filled by the many other people touched by her life of giving, helping and kindness.
Postscript:
A legacy of flowers…
Because Josephine had a love of gardening, several roses have been named to remember her and her children. Her garden at Malmaison was something very special and had over a hundred types of roses.
The Eugene de Beauharnais Rose
Souvenir de la Malmaison Rose
(Ack: Felix Markham: Napoleon- 1963/mentor book; http://www.fi.edu/time/Frick/Watson/lady.html)
benny

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