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More Connectivity

My Cyber-Rabbi, Arnie Samlan, whose Twitter feed I follow religiously, tweets the following question weekly: “Hey, folks! It’s Friday. What have we learned this week?”

I’m not sure how he knows my inner thoughts: “I want to learn something new. I need to learn something new.” I’ve repeating these words in an undertone, like a prayer.

Perhaps Rabbi Samlan can read minds from 1,000 miles away, and his Twitter handle JewishConnectivity is actually a revelation of his rabbinic superpower.  Or, perhaps we simply share a common world-view, which he expressed to me in another tweet:

“When we stop learning and growing, we stop living.”

I read this tweet aloud and immediately respond, “Amen.”

So, in advance of your Friday question, Rabbi, here’s my reply:

“I learned the first of God’s 99 names in Arabic: Al-Malik.”

My hevruta (friend and study partner) is a patient teacher. She chose Al-Malik (the King) as the first name to teach me because it appears in the first chapter of the Quran, which Muslims recite during their daily prayers.  It struck me—as she wrote Al-Malik on her tabletop whiteboard—that Jews begin the morning liturgy on holidays by chanting this same name of God, HaMelekh.  During our study session we discovered many similarities in how we approach and address God.

With a steady hand on the whiteboard, she reassured me that I could learn the four ways to write each letter, despite that my memory is less nimble in middle age. After allowing me to mispronounce God’s name repeatedly, she encouraged me to write Al-Malik in my notebook and asked me to write the Hebrew equivalent for her alongside it.

We are meeting bi-weekly, which ought to allow me sufficient time to practice my Arabic script and to research the parallel Hebrew names of God. Between meetings I’m sure that we will email our thoughts to each other, connecting our souls across cyberspace sans whiteboard.

And as we learn and grow together we’ll also connect—God willing/Insha’allah—to Al-Malik/HaMelekh.

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