Hashem is everywhere. Hashem is everything.
“Hear, O Israel: Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is the One and Only.”
I am a victim of the damaging notion that G-d was a white-haired, white-bearded man sitting on a throne in Heaven. Did I get that from Sunday school or Hebrew school on Tuesday afternoons? Not sure.
It is an “easy” way to get young children to understand a higher power or being, but it is not the right approach.
Now I know better… I understand more. Thanks to Rabbi Denbo, I not only touch the Mezzuzah as I come and go, but I say “Echad… One”, as I do. And I stop and ponder what that really means.
As I walk on the way, I open all of my senses and take in as much as I can… It is part meditation and part connecting with the world around me, and thus connecting to Hashem.
Hashem is all we see and hear and touch. Hashem is the energy that exists in the world… that created the world and that lives in each and every one of us. So of course we are all connected. It just makes sense.
And yet, as simple as this concept is, it is amazingly difficult to fully comprehend and to fully live. It is like the very notion of LOVE… so simple and pure and desired… but also so challenging, and requiring of much attention and work.
One… Connection… Unity…
I am starting to really allow this to fill me up… in my heart and soul and mind… To recognize that I am part of the One.
But the world and even our own people challenge this…
There are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Jews… Republican Jews… Democrat Jews… Jews who support BDS…
We are a very fractured people at the moment… and it comes at a time, when we should be anything but.
I see the value in all of it… in all of the “movements” of Judaism… and as I struggle… Okay, maybe that is not the right word… As I EXPLORE and LEARN and DISCOVER as much as I can, I know I will find where I belong… where I thrive… and it may be a hybrid of my own creation.
The key is to accept and recognize that we are all one… and that any fracture can and will be used against us.
How do I KNOW we are connected? How do I KNOW we are One?
Coincidence… That is not actually coincidence at all!
I touched on this very notion last week and mentioned that I started a class at Chabad of the Conejo… a three-week deal at their Academy Center For Jewish Life.
At “The Logical Case For Faith: Beyond A Reasonable Doubt”, Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky said what is now one of my favorite quotes:
“Coincidence is G-d’s way of remaining anonymous.”
Yes, I mentioned this, too in last week’s post… but here is what followed… and where it gets even better…
Rabbi Avi Rabin knew that this class would be important for me, so at his suggestion, I went. It was important and powerful for me to be there… so there is that. Connection One.
My friendship with Avi lead me to Shacharis this past Sunday, for him and his family and their loss of Rabbi Yehoshua Binyomin Gordon (obm). I knew I wanted to be there… Had to be there…
I was lost in a sea of Chabad Rabbis and men…
I rushed to get my Tefillin on, not doing the best “wrap”… frustrated that I was not doing it the way I wanted to…
I had no Tallis… And I am still struggling with the prayers and the Hebrew.
It was overwhelming… I felt lost.
For a moment or two…
And then I felt the intense connection to everyone in the room… to Hashem.
No one was judging me, and I felt okay to simply be present… and say what parts of the prayers I could.
I felt a love for Judaism so deep in my heart and soul.
I was there for the right reason. Connection Two.
I left there and headed to Forest Lawn and Mount Sinai for Shloshim, to help make a Minyan and say for Kaddish for Alex Schwartz (Shalom Ben Asher Anshul) z”l, a Holocaust survivor with very few family members left.
I found out about it through my friend Jovana (not Jewish) who heard about it from her friend IN ISRAEL… and thought it was an important mitzvah for me. Thank you, Jovie! Connection Three.
I have learned through the Morning Blessings Of The Torah that it is part of our duty to help escort the dead, so again, I knew I had to be there… wanted to be there.
Alex did not have a minyan at his burial to recite Kaddish, to do Kriyah and to sit Shiva. So three sisters: Rachel, Alexandra and Judy and Malkie reached out on Facebook to make sure that he did for Shloshim. This is who Jews are… this is what Jews do… and this is what fills my heart and gives Judaism meaning for me. Connection Four.
Before the service, I struck up a conversation with a woman standing next to me… We talked about what brought me there… where I came from… and realized we were both from Agoura Hills… and in a remarkable moment, that she was the Rebbetzen (wife) of Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky. Come on! I had only met the Rabbi two weeks before! Connection Five!!!
I told her about how much I loved the class… was sad to have missed the second one, but so looking forward to next week’s class… and even quoted Rabbi Shlomo to her… (Yes, she knew the quote on coincidence and the story of the heart connecting all Jews… Of course!!!)
It is a small, wonderful and connected world out there, and Hashem connects the dots for us, when we are open to simply being and seeing.
Let us all, truly, be One! The power of unity and connection is clear… and vital… and can do wonders… or let wonders be revealed.