Pirke Avot Chapter Five, verse four

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Amongst the problems of Winter Storm Alfred here has been the loss of Your Humble Blogger’s ability to focus on anything except the likelihood of getting back on the grid. I am working today, warm and comfy and electron-ridden, but the house is still cold and dark, and I have resorted to checking the Twitter feed—Twitter!—in an attempt to find out, minute by minute, that there is power in my neighborhood, on my block, or maybe someday in my house. And while we are relatively lucky, having warm places in town to go during the day with free showers and wireless, and when we finally gave up on our house we had somewhere warm to go to sleep. And furthermore we have money in the bank (and under our credit card maximums) to buy hot meals and treats for our children, who have never suffered power outage like this. We also speak the English Language, so what news we can access, we can understand (CL&P jargon notwithstanding), and we both have training at searching the internet and distinguishing official news from scuttlebutt. And, of course, the house is not only fundamentally sound but doesn’t have a scratch on it (so far as we know); we could have spent the week without power having a tree through the roof. So, you know, things could be worse. But still, the inconvenience and expense and discomfort of a week without power—coupled, I must say, with the narrowing experience of living in a community where the primary topic of conversation is the power outage, and the secondary and tertiary topics are outage-related as well—has made it difficult for YHB to buckle down as I ought and present this weeks verse from the Avot:

With ten trials Abraham our father was tried, and he bore them all, to make known how great was the love of Abraham our father.

Real subtle, there.

For those following at home, it’s not obvious what the exact ten trials were, and there are differences of opinion on this. The Avot of Rabbi Nathan list Genesis 12:1ff, when he was ordered to move out from his father’s household (the parsha for this week being lech-l’cha, this seems appropriate); 12:10, when he is forced to move again by a famine; 21:10, the expulsion of Ishmael; 22:1f, the binding of Isaac, 12:11ff, in connection with Sarah, and 21:10 in connection with Hagar; in 14:13ff, in connection with the war; in 15:1ff, in connection with the covenant; 17:24, with circumcision, and as alluded to in 11:28, when he was thrown in a fiery furnace by Nimrod.

Oddly enough, Father Abraham lived his entire life without electricity, and that fact doesn’t make the list at all. Hm.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,

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