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?
Rabbi Micah's blog
“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!
Craig Taubman is a singer/songwriter and music producer based in Los Angeles, California. For several years now Craig has offered "Jewels of Elul", daily reflections delivered by email, in preparation for the High Holy Days. Craig writes:
A few months ago, I went out to lunch with Bruce, an old friend, who asked me what it would take to bring back Jewels of Elul? I answered, “Time and money.” He said, “What if I gave you the money?”
For the past few days I have had the privilege of studying at a workshop at Yale Divinity School entitled: Joy and the Good Life. There were about 200 learners and scholars, and pastors, and one Reform Rabbi (yours truly) at the conference. We gathered together to discuss what the good life is and how to achieve it.
Ritual allows us to express abstract concepts through concrete acts. Ritual can play just as important a role today as it did in the time of the Temple. Our ancestors figured out ways to use ritual to bring us into alignment with God and our own spirituality.
When I was a little boy I loved to look at the stars and imagine flying in a spaceship between them. As I grew older and learned what light years were, I came to realize how long it would actually take to travel between the stars. The nearest star to Earth, other than our own sun, is Alpha Centauri. This star is 4.3 light years away. This means that traveling at the speed of light it would take approximately four and half years to travel there. Now this is all well and good for light, but for humans, outside of science fiction, at current speeds it would take about 40 years to travel there.
How do we relate to God? One way is to see God as a being to be worshiped, as a being that is separate and removed from us. As it says in Psalm 92, “It is good to praise Adonai, to sing hymns to Your name, O Most High”. The God described in this Psalm is a God for which humans' only hope of connecting is through song. However, what if there were a different way to connect to God? What if the way we relate to God could be found not only in worship, but in our regular daily actions? What if we saw that through our actions we were actually emulating the actions of God? As it says in Psalm 77, “I will meditate on all your workings, and I will speak about Your deeds: God Your path is holiness.” In figuring out what God does and has done in the universe, and seeing how our actions are similar to those actions, we discover a different way of relating to God that does not involve worship.