Let There Be Light!

  

Let There Be Light!

Tomorrow begins the cycle of reading the Torah from the beginning.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good, and God separated the light from the darkness.” (Genesis 13 1-4). For over 35 years, I’ve started my mornings with reading daily portions from the Torah, and each day I find something new that I did not realize before. For example, to whom God is talking about manifesting light and announcing that the light is good? And what about the separation between the light and the darkness? Since the purpose of the creation was to make the world ready for the first humans, Adam and Eve and their descendants, perhaps God was addressing the modern humans in his message. We are living in a time surrounded by a lot of darkness. Can we separate it from the light, or do we need God’s help?

Between the 2020 General Election, the Coronavirus, fires, unemployment and so many other personal issues, which are greatly multiplied by media outlets, it is very difficult to see the light and the good. This was the reason why on Columbus Day, I decided to venture to Downtown San Francisco. I have not been there since March. Before the Corona virus, I would go there once a week for a networking meeting, and on the weekends with my camera. I love our city and its people and wanted to see for myself what is going on. Of course, I knew about the changes due to the Coronavirus; the lack of office workers and tourists, whose place was taken up by tents of the homeless people. 

Nevertheless, I also know that while focusing on finding light – it is already there.

I met an old friend on Sutter Street, who is a doctor, and whose clinic was in the neighborhood. He never stopped working and witnessed how Downtown had become crippled with darkness. He pointed out on the windows of the Leica photo store covered with plywood. I remarked, “Covid”. “No”, he said, “Black Lives Matter”. The note on the plywood covering the door stated, “Unauthorized Entry Will be Met with Armed Response.”

I agreed with him that the city had changed. However, being an optimist, and a believer in the light and good, I know that this shall also pass. Perhaps there is a need to change the city’s leadership (in the 13th century, the poet Rumi wrote, “Fish begins to stink at the head”). But the lack of traffic allowed for some repair work to be done. I saw tourists by the gate to Chinatown, and a few stores had “We are Open” signs written on the plywood. I went to Belden Lane to have lunch at Tiramisu Restaurant and had a great ice cream at Amarino Gelato. Obviously, our city has boils on its body, but gradually the fuss will get out and the body will heal, and our city will be filled with the light (and people) again. 

P.S. The word “photography” means drawing with the light. I use the light to share with you four images, which show the signs of normality.

Enjoy and Share!

Manny Signature

The Significance of Numbers

  

The Significance of Numbers

Recently my wife Elfa reminded me that it was on August 5th forty years ago we moved to San Francisco. If not for the Coronavirus, we probably would celebrate such an important date in our lives. Instead, I decided to share with you some of the significance of the number 40. We can start with the Scripture where it was mentioned 146 times. There, the number generally symbolizes a period of testing, trial and probation. According to Numerology, 40 represents 5 traits – Dignity, Focus, Pragmatism, Sense of Security and Dedication. Looking back at our last forty years, which were challenging, exciting and very satisfying, I believe that during those years I developed all five traits, which prepared me for the next 40 years.

There are other numbers connected with the experience of our arrival here. It happened on the 5th of the eighth month. In Numerology the key characteristic of number 5 is curiosity and the need for variety of exciting experiences in order to feel fulfilled. It craves freedom and adventure and isn’t afraid to let the wind carry it where it may (this fits me perfectly). And what about number 8 (as August is the 8th months of the year)? In Numerology, the number 8 is the achiever and measures life by goals and reaches. It has a good business sense, a powerful presence and is strong for success (all of that sounds good). In Chinese culture, the number 8 is considered the luckiest number of all, and purposely worked into wedding dates. On the subject of weddings, there was another important number in our lives. Three days after our arrival in San Francisco, we celebrated our thirteenth wedding anniversary (I recently wrote about our 53rd anniversary). By adding 8 and 5 we get the number 13. Some consider number 13 unlucky. In Numerology the number 13 brings the test, the suffering and the death. It symbolizes the death to the matter or to oneself and the birth to the spirit: the passage on higher level or existence. This number cannot be unlucky, because I was born on January 13th and besides in China 13 is traditionally considered a lucky number, because in Chinese it sounds similar to words for “assured growth”. In Torah thirteen is attributed to meaning of Mercy. I found all of this trivia on line, and there is obviously much more if you have desire and time to explore. Meanwhile, I will introduce you to one more number – 42, which in Douglas Adam’s “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” is an answer to the Universe’s ultimate question – “What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?”

I am ending with number 42, because it is the number of images I’ve chosen for my “42 Encounters” series of photo-books. I just finished working on “42 Encounters with Laughter”, which is going to be available in a few months. Start building your own library, since it will take me another forty years to finish all 42 books. You can find those on Amazon.com.

P.S. I used dried roses to design different numbers, which were mentioned in the story. The bouquet has forty flowers, and the bonus image of LOVE has forty-two roses. I might use this image on the cover of my book, “42 Encounters with Love”, which I am planning to publish in 2021. Meanwhile, “42 Encounters with Laughter” is moving forward. Stay tuned.

Enjoy and Share with A Friend!

Manny Signature

Lucky Break

  

Lucky Break

How many times have you come across people who were successful at something, because of what seemed like a “lucky break”? I thought about this after reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle from September 19, 2020, “How sand dunes became S.F.’s Golden Gate Park, thanks to a clumsy horse” written by Gary Kamiya, who is the author of the best-selling book, “Cool Gray City of Love: 49 Views of San Francisco” (I explored this book while doing research for my photo-story book, “42 Encounters in San Francisco”, which is available on Amazon.com).

The article describes how William Hammond Hall converted almost one thousand acres of sand into what became our beloved Golden Gate Park, which recently celebrated its 150-year Anniversary. And it was a horse who helped to do that. After trying to plant different plants and shrubs to hold the sand without any success, he got a lucky break when “one of their horses was corralled on a patch of sand. Its feed consisted of whole soaked barley seeds. One day, the horse spilled its feed on the sand. As luck would have it, the rains soon came. When Hall happened by the spot a week later, the barley seeds had sprouted and clothed several yards of loose sand with a vigorous green growth.” It took years, but this lucky break was the beginning. There are many other similar stories; one of them is about the “accidental” discovery of the penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming. 

There is also the story of how Scotchgard was discovered by Patsy Sherman, who had a lucky break when she was trying to develop a special rubber.

The adhesive behind Post-it notes was discovered in 1968 by Spencer Silver, a researcher at 3M Laboratories, who was actually looking for a stronger adhesive.

Can there be a lucky break be in politics? Recently, I read a very interesting article about Joe Biden, which was published in The New Yorker on August 31, 2020, titled “Man in The Middle” written by Evan Osnos.

Joe Biden was trailing behind Bernie Sanders, when he got his lucky break in South Carolina. Before this happened, I was listening to a Public Radio interview with Representative James Clyburn, a South Carolina icon. He said that he had some political disagreements with his late wife; however, she liked Joe Biden and therefore to honor his wife, he decided to support him as well. The rest is history. Will this lucky break lead to one day, the most powerful nation in the world to have Kamala Harris, the first woman of color as the President of the United States? Time will tell.

P.S. Last week I shared four images with you of flowers without color. This week, flowers had their lucky break and their color returned. You can see them side by side, as well as other flowers on my Instagram. 

Manny Signature

Please Forgive Me

  

Please Forgive Me

Last Friday Jews celebrated Rosh Hashanah (I wrote about it last week). In the Torah, ten days later, which falls on the eve of Sunday the 27th, starts Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. According to tradition, this is the day when God decides each person’s fate. So Jews are encouraged to make amends and ask forgiveness for the sins they committed over the past year. The holiday is observed with a 25-hour fast and special prayers. However, before asking God, one needs to settle their relationships with people and ask for their forgiveness. Therefore, I am using this opportunity to ask you to forgive me. One of the prayers is to ask God for the forgiveness of the sins, which we did knowingly, as well as for those which only God knows about.

This brings to mind a joke about a man, who while praying tells God, “During the last year you did many things which I did not like, such as, the Coronavirus, fires, tornadoes, and the list goes on. At the same time, I am sure that I had a few transgressions of which you did not approve. So, let’s make a deal; if you forgive me, I will forgive you and we will be even.” Jokes aside, we all have choices of what to do and how to behave. Some call it free will. However, it seems that even our choices come from Torah.

Recently in the weekly portion I was reading that Moses before ending his life’s journey told the Israelites, “See – I have placed before you today the life and good, and the death and evil” (Nitzavim 30:15). And then a few lines later, as to repeat his important message, he said again, “I have placed life and death before you, blessing and curse; and you shall choose life, so that you will choose life, so that you will live, you and your offspring” (Nitzavim 30:19). And then he concludes in the next chapter, “For I know that after my death you will stay from the path that I have commanded you and evil will befall you at the end of days, if you do what is evil in the eyes of Hashem (God), to anger him through your handiwork” (Vayelech 31:29). 

It is estimated that Moses died in 1271 BCE. It seems that years later his prophecy was fulfilled, since humans stray from God’s guidance all time. Therefore, the Torah gave us Yom Kippur, so that at least once a year the Jews can clean their consciousness, and there is hope that in spite of our misbehavior, we will be forgiven and choose to live. I am wishing you good final judgement.

P.S. For this story I decided to share with you some images of flowers without color. Use your imagination of how your life is going to look in full color. Sometime in the near future I will show you my color versions.

Manny Signature

Good & Sweet Year

  

Good & Sweet Year

If you are reading this story on Friday, September 18th, I am wishing you a Good and Sweet New Year. According to the Jewish calendar, it is the eve of the two day holiday, Rosh Hashanah, which according to Torah, commemorates the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first humans, 5781 years ago. Though the Torah is the Jewish Bible, the first humans were the parents of all of humanity, and the celebration of their birthday can be shared with everyone. Rosh Hashanah is translated as Head of the Year; however, it is the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. The first one is in the spring month and is called Nissan. It is considered the New Year from counting the years of kings in ancient Israel. Nissan is the month of the celebration of the festival of Passover. While Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the creation of the world, Nissan celebrates the founding of the Jewish people after their exodus from Egypt.

For our family, this New Year is going to be especially memorable. The special event actually started a little bit earlier. On the evening of September 6th, our daughter Tamar gave us a gift, our first granddaughter. So, as far as we are concerned, our Good and Sweet Year started twelve days earlier. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has not only affected the rest of the world, but it has also prevented us from sharing the joy of the miracle of the start of the new life with our daughter and her husband David. To be on the safe side, we will not meet our granddaughter until there is a vaccine, or the virus is under control.

So the question is, how can we have a Good Year if no one knows when the vaccine will be available? When I called my brother, who lives in Toronto, and cannot go to work because of the lockdown, he made a comment, which put everything into proper prospective. “It does not matter how long the coronavirus will last; sooner or later, life will be as it used to be, meanwhile enjoy today!”

Let’s enjoy every day regardless of how many years passed since Adam and Eve appeared in this world. Have a Good and Sweet Year!

P.S. One of the traditions to start Rosh Hashanah is by dipping an apple in honey and eating pomegranate. I am sharing with you my take on those fruits.

Enjoy and Share with a Friend.

Manny Signature