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Religion

Which way does your compass point?

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Theories abound about the Tembisa 10. Something seems not quite kosher about the birth of those decuplets. And, there was something not so kosher about the first multiple pregnancy recorded in the Torah – Rebecca’s twins Jacob and Esau.

What made the expectant mother really uptight was the peculiar behaviour of what she believed was a single foetus. Whenever she walked past the famous Academy of Shem & Ever, the baby seemed to get really excited, as if longing to get out and join the learning. (Shem and Ever, the son and grandson of Noah, were teachers of monotheistic faith and trained their disciples in this belief.) However, much to her chagrin, the same behaviour repeated itself when she was in the proximity of the far more numerous centres of idol worship.

There was a certain sense of relief when it was prophetically revealed to her that she was to be the mother of two sons, who were already acting out their respective destinies in utero.

Mothers speak of their unborn babies reacting to outside stimuli. Some sounds make the foetus excited and unsettled, kicking away in the mother’s stomach. Soothing music apparently calms the child. There have even been suggestions that listening to classical compositions while expecting will stimulate intellectual and emotional development, resulting in higher EQs and IQs! Schubert, Liszt and Mozart top the pregnancy playlists. But how could Jacob know his mother was walking past a Yeshiva?

The answer is that sanctity attracts sanctity. Like the magnetic needle of a compass inexorably drawn to the north, like the small flame pointing towards a nearby larger fire, holiness is pulled to holiness. The lofty soul of unborn Jacob couldn’t help but feel tugged towards a place imbued with purity and divinity.

In Psalm 119, King David tells us, “I considered my ways and I turned my feet to your testimonies.” Vayikra Rabba explains: David said, “Master of the universe! Each and every day I would consider and say, ‘To this place or to this home I am walking’ but my feet would bring me to the synagogues and to the houses of study.”

So here is a question we all need to ask ourselves: in which direction is our internal compass irresistibly drawn?

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