Ha’zinu 5783 – Past and Future

By: Susan Moger

Today’s Torah portion is Ha’azinu, the 2nd to last portion, getting near the end of the Torah. The sidra begins with the song/poem that Moses introduced at the end of the last Parashah, Vayelech. Through a variety of metaphors, G-d’s faithfulness to the Israelites in the past and into the future is extolled. This contrasts with Israel’s often ungrateful behavior, which can only lead to destruction. There is mention that the people will turn from G-d in the promised land.  Yet, G-d’s mercy for his people will prevail. G-d can be trusted to rescue them ultimately. At the conclusion, for the final time, Moses stresses to the people the importance of observing G-d’s Torah. He then ascends the mountain, from where he will behold the Promised Land and spend his final moments.  This is just before Moses dies. The word tsor, rock, is used referring to G-d, possibly for the first in the Torah.

As I was asked to talk about a trip I made, I will continue, it also has elements of past and future. About 5 years ago I explored if there are still world’s fairs or expos and found they have them every 5 years. My parents often spoke of the 1939 NY World’ Fair where they saw the clover leaf highways years before they were built.  As a child my family and I went to the 1964-65 NY World’s Fair where we saw picture phones for the first time and Expo 67 in Montreal showed multi screen images in movies and we rode the world’s first commercial hovercraft. I liked Expo so much I told my father I wanted to return and we returned the same summer. I flew for the first time, he flew for the 2nd time, the first when in the army flying in WWII in Italy. We often talked about the Expo trip and seeing the future in the pavilions. I lived long enough to see which of the predictions from the world’s fair and expo would happen in 50+ years later.

I decided I wanted to go to one more expo and the next was in Dubai, supposed to begin Oct. 1 2020. Due to covid it was not cancelled but postponed one year. Then it opened, but due to omicron I had concerns about going, but eventually wanted to go so much I went to Dubai end of Feb. I stayed at the one hotel inside the Expo. Covid vaccainations were required to enter the Expo and masks were required indoors. I thought I would get to 4-5 pavilions a day due to long lines like I had seen at the other events, but when I got there anyone over age 60, and there weren’t too many, got a lanyard and card and could bypass the lines. So there could be 75 or more people in line and I just walked right in, sometimes through the VIP line. I got to 15-18 pavilions a day. I went to about 80 out of the 200 pavilions, 192 were countries and 8 were companies.

It was more than I expected. There was loads of pavilions full of displays on the themes of sustainability, recycling, the environment, and mobility. So many ideas of new technologies with prototypes of new vehicles, new cancer fighting innovations, cataloguing of DNA of all animals and plants, air taxis, recycling, many countries doing far more than in the US, hydrogen powered airplanes, once they figure out how to safely store and transport hydrogen, commercial planes without pilots or flight attendants. Not to mention all the entertainment and parades as I walked from pavilion to pavilion. Also I was fortunate on the timing of my visit since I was able to visit the Museum of the Future which just opened in downtown Dubai. The museum begins entering an elevator which simulates travel in the year 2070 from Dubai to Dubai’s colony on Mars. Many countries are planning to have the first colony on Mars. The top floor in the museum is like the colony, with jobs to do, ability to monitor capturing plastics from the world’s oceans from Mars, and so many imaginative ideas. Then the next floor of the museum had a sign at the entry. It read “ In 2030, _________ passed obesity as the world’s greatest health risk”.   Depression, anxiety, and loneliness. Interestingly one cause was described as being due to iphones, social media, remote work, remote schools, lack of face to face contact. But they have solutions with technology, such as soothing vibrations. Back to the expo. I would start out each morning when the expo opened, I had a lot to see.  Early one day I went to the Morocco Pavilion, took an elevator up 8 stories and exited to a very Zen courtyard with a sloping walkway and many rooms off of the walkway. Some were on Moroccan culture, fashion, technology, the arts. There were 4 Arab men way ahead of me I could see way on lower levels in the courtyard. I then got to a room where they were seated. I normally would have skipped the room, but they were there awhile and I thought maybe there is something to this. The room only had blocks as benches to sit on and a high ceiling with a pendulum in the middle of the room. It was a zen or meditation room. I sat there awhile, although the men were still there when I left. I went back to the courtyard, as I said it was early and not many people were in the pavilion and I saw no one in the courtyard. As I proceeded to walk to the next room and I was flooded with good memories of my time at the Expo with my father. I thought about how I lived to see 50 years in the future, if the predictions from the expo came true and I won’t see 50 years in the future now. But I am good with that. Since I saw no one, I actually spoke out load as if my father were walking next me, telling him I loved going to the expo with him and wanted to go to one more and here I was in Dubai. My father loved a walk. With the High Holidays, and finishing reading the Torah and starting at the beginning, this is a time of year to reflect on the past, present, and future, make use of the opportunity.

Good shabbas, shana tovah and chag sameach.

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