Rabbi Micah's blog
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.
Happy anniversary TBD! After this Shabbat it will officially be one year since I started working here. I was trying to think about what words would suffice to tell you how much you all have meant to me and my family this year. I want to express the immense feeling of gratitude I have in my heart. However, every time I try, the words just never seem enough. Then a teaching I often use struck me as the perfect way to communicate the amazing feelings I have on this one year anniversary of our journey together.
There is a parable in the Talmud that goes as follows:
In Judaism the role of witnessing is very important. The book of Leviticus says, “Any person able to testify as one who has seen or learned of the matter who does not come forward to testify is liable to punishment” (Lev. 5:1). Therefore, we are not only told that witnessing is important, it is actually a holy, sacred act. Yet, sometimes witnessing is not enough. Sometimes when we witness an injustice we feel compelled to act. We want to, in a sense, turn from witness to actor.
In our community we are given many opportunities to act for others. These opportunities are often referred to as Tzedakah, or more broadly, as acts of Tikun Olam. However, I would like to introduce another concept, Gimilut Chasidim- Acts of loving kindness.
How can we understand Gimilut Chasidim? Consider the following teaching from the Talmud:
“Families don't just eat in the Winter.” While not a direct quote, this was more or less the takeaway for me and the other clergy at our monthly Cheshire Clergy Association. What we learned from the Cheshire food pantry is that during the winter and fall months they do very well. But the summer months are a struggle for them to keep their shelves stocked. Therefore, we decided as a group to hold a food drive at the end of June and thus “Foodstock” was born.
I was having a conversation with a student this week where we discussed that Judaism does not ask us to be knowledgeable, or to understand but rather to be wise. “What is the difference?” I asked.
“Knowledge is being aware of what something is, while understanding is being aware of how something works. But I don’t know about wisdom…” the student said.
In honor of Memorial Day and the men and women who have served our country I am sharing an article written by Aaron Rozovsky. Aaron is a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion on the Cincinnati campus. Aaron is a decorated captain (CPT) in the Rhode Island Army National Guard, he has been in the military for more than 10 years, serving in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Afghanistan, and, during his HUC year-in-Israel, as a liaison officer to the IDF.
Here is what he wrote:
The following story was shared with me by Rabbi David Wolpe: