On The Path, Without A Map – Finding Jerusalem And Judaism – By Marc

Stop and smell the roses.
Live each and every moment as if it is your last.
Embrace life.
Enjoy the ride.
Eat all your Challah.

Quotes… clichés… whatever you want to call them there is a deep truth to each. Okay, maybe not the last one. Especially THIS week! It just came out. I made it up. Although, why shouldn’t you eat all your Challah?

A cliché becomes just that because it is proven to be true or useful, just perhaps too many times. Yet ALL of the above are potent and invaluable, at least if we want to enjoy this crazy ride called life.

It has to be about the journey, since we do not always arrive at our destination. And while that can be depressing, and not something we usually plan for, or even want to think about… It is, sadly, a reality at times.

We plan a trip, a destination, things to do and see. We hope and pray we arrive and fulfill the dream, the plan… but often life throws detours and curve balls, and if we are open of heart and mind, eyes and ears, we may discover new and incredible worlds… things we may not have seen or noticed simply because we did not plan for them.

This is how I am choosing to look at my Judaism. Though to be honest, I do not have a clear destination or goal, at least not one so detailed and specific. I’m free styling, and at least for now that’s okay.

In general terms, I want to be more spiritual, more holy… more connected to my religion and my people. I want to embrace the Jewish community and be a part of it. I want to learn from the Torah, support is as best I can, and give back to the world, spiritually and financially. I know there is a higher power and a higher purpose to life, and what mine is, I don’t quite know. Yet… Which is quite often a very frustrating position to be in, and one that takes a huge amount of effort to embrace and open yourself up to. I need to do that more… A LOT more!

I am not good with uncertainty, which is why I want to have plans and contingencies. The unknown scares me, as it does a lot of people. But there comes a time when you have to give yourself up to it. And if you can find joy in that, faith and true belief in it… then life has infinite possibilities.

I have many friends, Orthodox and Modern Orthodox, who observe every Shabbat… eat Kosher or “Kosher Style” (credit to Rob G. for that term… Sorry, but I love it and have to use it!) and are pretty dedicated to their beliefs. And they all say the same thing, when I eat something not Kosher, or don’t go to a Shabbat dinner… They all say: “You’ll get there.”

But will I? Honestly, I don’t know how far I will go… but considering where I am and where I was, who knows. I am simply trying to embrace the journey, fully… trying to explore and learn deeply… trying to live and love fully.

I am a “foodie.” I love lobster and shrimp and crab. I love pulled pork… and yes I do love bacon… hence part of the reason for the name of this blog. I do also love a good play on words, so… There you have it.

While I am not ready to give all of that up yet, perhaps I will someday. I honestly do not know how far I am going to go.

I love live music, and while I seem to go to a lot of shows on Friday night, I am trying to observe as many Shabbats as I can (Read get invited to as many Shabbat dinners as I can!)

Someone once said to me that there are 613 Mitzvot, and not too many humans who can follow each and every one… so follow as many as you can, live your life decently and you are doing a good job.

Before I went to Israel this past November (for the first time, mind you) I barely prayed, did not go to Shul all that much and never wrapped Tefillin.

Now I wrap daily, I pray daily, usually two to three times. I go to Shul whenever I can and I study Torah and Judaism weekly… sometimes a few times a week, and with different people and Rabbis. I am embracing this in a way I did not expect and never thought I would, so I am already much further ahead than I ever thought I would be.

Most support me, some question me, including friends and family… concerned that I may move away from them, I guess… or question their own choices. But this is for me, to become the best person I can be… to move in the right direction.

“But I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”
(Written by Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell, and Sol Marcus for the jazz singer/pianist Nina Simone, but made famous, at least for me, by Eric Burdon and the Animals)

Again, where it will land and where it will take me, I just don’t know. And while I have deep regrets for not having started this sooner, not having made Shabbat more important in my own house, not having six or seven kids… Hey, nature took care of that… I know that is never too late to learn or dream or explore or discover. You just to have to take a plunge, a dive, a leap of faith or something as simple as a step forward, and then you are on the path. So here’s to the journey, wherever it may lead. L’Chaim!

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