High Holy Day message 2018/5779
I find myself these days responding to many stressors, personally and professionally, as the Days of Awe approach, feeling overwhelmed as I face the task of preparation. Personally I need to take a deep look at my failings, my destructive behaviors towards others, particularly those closest to me, and how I have occluded G-d’s presence in my life. It is time for my Cheshbon HaNefesh, an ‘accounting of the soul,’ that gives me a plan for making T’shuvah. Professionally I must gather the words, the voices, and the obligatory contract in order that N’vay (our oasis) emanate in our presence. All of this, ‘mitin drinin,’ Yiddish for ‘in the middle of,’ the chaotic and disturbing climate of our country provoked and enforced by our government.
Each of us has the awesome task of responding to the ‘spiritual alarm clock’ that rings its loud bell, trying to get our attention to ‘wake up’ from the sleepwalking that often occurs as the days proceed through the year. Our habits, our addictions, our monotonous routine, can easily numb us and prevent us from staying in touch with our soul and its expression. The soul, which is the true essence of our being, is so easily ignored or pushed aside as we face the daily grind, the obligations, the responsibilities, and the push and pulls of the world around us.
Yet how can we remain whole and directed when what surrounds us is the ugly reality of lies, disrespect, manipulation, disharmony, treason, and outright evil. We can barely move through the day without news feed, newspapers, television and radio blasting us with one assault after another. We rage inside at the attempts to turn our world upside down, creating international enemies, and expressing complete disregard for human beings and citizens of this country.
Whose heart didn’t break at the sounds of children crying for their mothers when torn out of their arms, who wasn’t shattered when we saw our President cow-tow to the President of Russia, and who isn’t totally sickened by one rich yet inept leader after another making horrific decisions. For the first time in my life, I am provoked by ‘politics,’ full of rage and poison at the absurdity, the passivity, and the arrogance of elected officials who put ‘winning’ over character. They’re not blind and either are we. It doesn’t take an Einstein to see the collusion and obstruction that has gone on. It is demoralizing and challenging to our sense of propriety, decency and hope for the future. We must ‘Make America Sane Again!’
We need to feel ‘sane’ again. Just as those who face trauma, difficulty, illness, and loss, we must find the inner strength to continue to do our best and complete the work of creation, as G-d challenges us to do. We must dig into the resources, particularly, our Jewish wisdom and spiritual practice, to strengthen our resolve and build resilience in the face of darkness. That is the power of light, that even in a completely blackened room, a tiny flame from a match or candle will show us the way and let us know we will be OK.
This is a country (probably a world) divided by opposing beliefs and perceptions. We must find a way to reach across the divide, heal, if only for the greater good, what separates us and bring compassion and understanding towards the other. We must all do our part, whether it is protesting, initiating, and or sharing our best qualities to make a difference—even a tiny one. I will speak to this during our time together.
Take a look at the picture to the left and see that when we write the name of G-d vertically it is reflected in the human body; we are truly created in the image of G-d, by virtue of this name. It is part of our very being. When we focus on this ‘spiritual skeleton,’ as I like to refer to it, we are strengthened in well-being and aware that we are never alone. Our national reality, schedules, and activities pull our attention away from knowing that our inner core, the 'marrow of our bones,' is filled with life-giving and life-enhancing nourishment. My husband and partner, Rabbi Steve and I, look forward, once again, to sharing our journeys through the elevating Days of Awe at the beautiful facility we rent, Temple Akiba, 5249 Sepulveda Blvd, Culver City. Shana Tova