Archive | October, 2013

Closing Prayer at the Medicaid Expansion Press Conference

31 Oct

Our fates rely on each of us caring for our selves and our whole community.

Every person is touched by the fate of everyone else,

and so we must pursue compassion for all.

A Jewish tradition imagines each and every one of us as a reflection of God.

We are all unique echoes of the infinite.

We must aim to engage with every person as we would with God.

I must try to revere God who I find in everyone I talk to.

We must have compassion for each other as reflections of the most sacred.

I must care for each person because we are all holy sparks.

Let the embers of God that live in all of us inspire every North Carolinian to come together.

Let us care for the sacred warmth in each of our hearts, minds, souls, and bodies.

Let us act out of our passion for a creation that relies on us as stewards.

Let us be moved by the strength of our combined spirits to care better for each other, and let us say, Amein.

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A little more on silence and the Akeidah

25 Oct

A piece of commentary from last week…

This week we read the Akeidah, the binding of Isaac, I know, again.

Still, it may contain the most important long walk in the entire Torah, if not in our entire tradition.

God sends Abraham on a long walk to bind and, in Abraham’s mind, sacrifice Isaac. Here’s the text from Genesis, Chapter 22, just to refresh our memories:

Gen. 22:2 He said: Pray take your son, your only-one, whom you love, Yitzhak, and go-you-forth to the land of Moriyya/Seeing, and offer him up there as an offering-up upon one of the mountains that I will tell you of.

Gen. 22:3 Avraham started-early in the morning, he saddled his donkey, he took his two serving-lads with him and Yitzhak his son, he split wood for the offering-up and arose and went to the place that God had told him of.

Gen. 22:4 On the third day Avraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar.

Rabbi David Kimchi remarked on this, nearly 700 years ago, that God could have asked Abraham to do this immediately. God doesn’t. God says go on a walk. Think about it, in Rabbi Kimchi’s words, so that he would have three days’ time to build insight for himself on the matter.

That seems pretty reasonable. Most of us take at least that long to make a decision of importance. From relationships, to large purchases, from job changes, to college applications – we spend a lot of time reflecting on what to do in those moments of our lives. The wisdom from the Torah here reminds us that we do well when we do this, especially if we give ourselves the time to take a walk.

On that walk we may find the moments to reflect and to listen. We have to listen to the quieter voices around us and within us. In the words of Hannah Senesh, “the rush of the waters, the crash of the heavens,” – we are often too caught up in the noise of the everyday to even notice the thundering of the world beyond our walls.

Our prayers on Shabbat offer us moments to take an inner walk, to find our ways within. These moments of silence that we enter together every week, every time we offer t’fillah, can be that walk. They can be the time to travel deeper, to build upon our insights, to construct new frames of wisdom.

May the silence we find together allow us to walk towards a meaningful Shabbat.

Let us take a few longer moments of silence to deepen the walk into our selves.

A Meditation Using the Sh’ma

20 Oct

When we go for a walk, especially in nature, we invite in change for the better. Green spaces improve our moods, change our outlooks, and walking in them gives us a boost. I love the quiet, and it reminds me to listen. Listening allows me to connect with inner sources of strength that I often forget about. Our central meditation asks us to listen, and the build upon our selves in the hearing.

“Shema Yisrael – Listen closely Israel…” – if we quiet our inner voices we can hear the wisdom from all around us – from people and from trees, from our teachers and from our students.

“Adonai Eloheinu – God is OUR God…” – when we listen closely we can hear those messages that may in fact be on our side and not against us. On first hearing I often make things as bad as possible – this must be my fault, I must have done something wrong. When I remind myself that the universe may not be against me, that it often offers assistance, I can hear things differently – maybe this is happening for a good reason, maybe it will turn out for the better.

“Adonai Echad – God is ONE…” – there is only one universe, and it may turn out for the better or for the worse at any moment. Still the picture will always be bigger than us, and probably beyond our understanding. Let us hold off from making final judgments. Let us accept that we can always get more context.

“Listen Israel…”

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