There are four traits that I believe are key to being a Jewish adult: prayer, analysis, leadership and teaching. These are the four tasks that every Bar and Bat Mitzvah demonstrate during their ceremony. They engage the congregation in prayer. They analyze the Torah and read it closely. They lead the service. Then lastly, they teach.
I would like to share some of the teachings that these young men and women have come up with periodically in the weekly shabbat message. This week our teaching comes from Noah Rockoff where he discusses the importance of trust:
The other day somebody came up to me and asked if it was alright for them to attend Torah study.
I asked, “why wouldn't it be alright?”
They replied, “well I haven't paid my dues yet.”
The Rambam teaches us, “Yom kippur wipes clean wrongs committed between a person and God. For Yom Kippur to atone for sins between people a person must go and ask for forgiveness.
The Rambam continues, “It is forbidden for a person to be cruel and refuse to be appeased. Rather, he should be easily pacified, but hard to anger. When the person who wronged him asks for forgiveness, he should forgive him.
Joy and thriving are not the journey but the destination. According to Archbishop Desmund Tutu, “if you set out to be joyful you're not going to be joyful”. Joy happens when we follow patterns adapted from virtues and live in attunement with people and in harmony with the greater world.
The Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu identified eight pillars to help us live lives of Joy.
A wave crashes on a person. They begin to drown, and then breathe as the wave passes. They can either be afraid to go into the water for the rest of their life or they can try and look at the experience in a novel way. We all experience life, but the key is how we interpret it.
Let me ask you a question: Who is in charge of your relationship and understanding of God? Is it you? Or is it me the Rabbi? Or is it the media? Or is it our tradition?
“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time. Any fool can do it, there ain't nothing to it.” These words were sung by James Taylor. While he probably did not have Shabbat in mind, he might as well have been talking about the heart and soul of the Sabbath: time.
What is time actually? Time is the fluid in which we all swim. Time is an intangible thing. Time cannot be found or created. Time is not an abstract concept. Time is real. Time is as real and fundamental as air is to our existence. Time is what gives events and things meaning.
What is the role that material things should play in our lives? What is their place in our spiritual make up? In “The Sabbath” by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel he articulates a paradigm for how humans relate to their surroundings. This paradigm is expressed through the concepts of space and time.
Yesterday Jodi and I went up to camp Eisner and Crane lake to visit our kids up there. I do not know who was happier to see who, us or them. All I can say is it is such a treat for Jodi and I, as the educator and Rabbi for this community, to have such wonderful kids to visit!