Friday, October 24, 2014

Rosh Hodesh Heshvan: A Nice Month

I don't care what they say
About Heshvan,
About what it signifies:
It's the month the Moshiach is supposed to show up
It's Rachel's Yahrzeit, but
I really don't care.

Though of course, Moshiach,
If the Moshiach shows up
It would of course be an event of note
And I'd be happy to be there for universal peace and plenty...

And of course, Rachel,
She was Jacob's true love and Joseph's mother
And, probably, a very complex and  interesting person in her own right,
And I'd be happy to light a candle to remember her by...

But really, no.
Because Heshvan is the quiet month:
No holidays
No repentence
No redemption
No dancing,

Heshvan is the Shabbat of months.
Heshvan is when we rest
From deep thoughts
And history
And joy,
Enough already!

Thank you, Heshvan.
Have a nice month, everybody.
Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Drashot for the Family Service: God Pulled Back Genesis 1:1-3

1.    In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth
2.    Now the earth was unformed and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the spirit of God hovered over the face of the waters.
3 And God said: 'Let there be light.' And there was light.

We are at the beginning of the Torah readings, and the beginning of the Torah starts with the beginning of our world.    This is the story of how God created the world in seven days.  Some people believe God created the world in seven days, other people, me for instance, believe that this is a story, an important story, that forms the body of stories that we Jews tell each other, that help us remember who and what we are and what we value.  And the bit of Torah i just read tells about that very first day, when God created existence as we know it.

So I want to tell you another story, the story of what happened before this first day, if you can imagine that.

Do you know what kabbala is?  Kabbala is the Jewish mystical tradition,  which is a tradition of thinking about God and spirituality and the meaning and reasons for why we exist, and all sorts of good stuff like that.  And in kabbala there are all sorts of stories for how things came to be, and one of my favorite stories is this, the story of tzimtzum.

Before our world existed, before our universe, nothing existed but God.  Imagine that.  Nothing existed but God.  God was everywhere and everything.  The Kabbala mystics call this God the Ain Sof, which means in Hebrew, Without End.  I can't imagine it, something without a beginniing or an end, but that's God.  God is everywhere.   But one day, God says, I want to create.  I want to create the universe where there will be life and people and trees and stars and planets and you and me and everything we know and love.  But God can't, because there's no room for anything new, because God is everywhere. 

So God decides to pull back, to withdraw just enough of God's God-ness so that there's room for everything else, for the planets and the stars and you and me.  God pulls back, which was very hard for God because God was used to being everything, but God pulled back and made room for us.  And that is the tzimtzum, which means, contraction, God made some empty space so God could create  the universe that we know and live in and love.   And that's the story of tzimtzum.

So God did tzimtzum so we could be created.  So when could you do tzimtzum to help someone else be creative?  Maybe sometimes, with your younger brother or sister, or with someone in school, who isn't as quick as you, maybe sometimes when they're having a hard time, you want to tell them the answer?  Maybe sometimes, if someone is drawing a picture or writing a story or a poem, you want to tell them how to do the drawing or tell that story because you know you have the right answer or the right story and it will be better if they do what you tell them.  But then, if you do those things, you're like God before God pulled back, you're taking up all the space and not letting that person find the answer for themselves, or create their vision and not yours.  And maybe their answer or their art or their story will not be better than yours or maybe it will, or maybe it will just be different, but if you don't give them the space you will never know that answer or see that picture or hear that story. 

Because God pulled back, all of us were able to be born and live.  God wanted to create us and love us, so God made room for us to breathe and God gave us free will, to become who we want to be, and think and feel on our own, and sometimes, when we want to help someone we love, even when we know we're right and they're wrong, we have to be like God and do tzimtzum, and pull back and give them room to breathe and make their own mistakes, so they can see the world for themselves.  In this parsha, in Bereishit, God creates us in God's image and this is one way for us to be in God's image, by making room for the people we love.

God pulled back and then God said, let there be light, and there was light.  

Shabbat Shalom.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Kavannah for Lecha Dodi

Invite us in:
The Male
The Female
The In-between
The Neither Nor
The Beginnings
The Endings

Let us abandon
The Before
The After
The Darkness
The Anger
The Yearning
The Dirt

Let us join in the Center, so

And there we will

It is so holy
It is so safe
It is so sexy

It is Shabbat.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Heal Me

The One Who Blessed Our Ancestors, Ruach HaOlam, Breath of the Universe, 
heal me…

I need a Healing Prayer.
But I can't do it.
I don't have the soothing words.
I'm in pain
Right now
And it's been going on for a while
And it looks like it's going to last longer than it takes to say any prayer.

So instead
I offer to you
A Pain Prayer:

A friend died suddenly
And I miss her.
I lost my job
And my despair is showing.
I don't have a partner
And I'm lonely
I'm losing my home
And I will never be comfortable again
My body hurts
And I'm becoming my pain.

Did I name any of your sorrows?
Do you want to name them now?

What was solid is porous,
What was secure is scary,
And everyone wants to hurry me through my grief.
It will be so much better, they say, when this is over:
You will be transformed!
Yes, I say, but into what?
Yes, I say, but I’m not there now!
Yes, I say, but please, let me mourn first.

“Refa’aynu Adonai V’Nayrafay
Heal us God, and we shall be healed.”
Can this be true?

“Elohai neshama sh’natata’bi,
The soul placed within me is pure and cannot be lost.”
o where is that pure soul?

Where is that healing of the body, mind and spirit?
Is it in the music?
Is it in my friends?
Is it in prayer?

So I listen to the music
And I am transported away from the hurt.
I look around at my community
And I am taken care of.
I recite this prayer
And I speak to God.

I guess this is a healing prayer after all.

Baruch Atah Adonai, The One Who Blessed Our Ancestors, Ruach HaOlam, Breath of the Universe,
Healer, Healing, Healed.