A Grain of Sand

"I will multiply you as the stars in heaven and as the sand upon the shore." - Genesis 22:17

"I can see the master's hand in every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand." - Dylan, Every Grain of Sand (on Shot of Love)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Death of a Shtarker: Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

The great Christopher Hitchens has just died. I had such affection for this person I did not know. And why? As a rabbi I suppose I should have been put off or offended by the contemptuousness with which he regarded the religious. Instead I found myself always moved by his breadth of knowledge, appreciative of his deep moral convictions and commitments, and somewhat in awe of his brilliance. In reading Hitchens, there was always a beautiful sense, whether you agreed with him or not, of "so, this is what a human mind can do."

For the meaning of the yiddish shtarker, click here and see the last paragraph of what I think was Hitchens' last piece, a meditation on suffering and it's meaning/lessness.

Wikipedia entry on Hitchens here, a good sense of Hitchen's brutal honesty along with his moral vision (and humor) here, his takedown of Mother Theresa, which gives a good sense of his iconoclasm, here.

It says in the Talmud (Berachot 6a), "The merit of attending a house of mourning lies in the silence observed." It is perhaps the only fitting response to the amazing life of this nearly archetypal man of words.

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