Ben often reminds me to make sure my posts come specifically back to Torah or offer up a direct lesson in Judaism. I think they do for the most part, but I know that sometimes they tend to be reactive or emotional. Hopefully they are always spiritual and worth a discussion. That was one of the reasons this whole project started.
I know they are guided strongly by Judaism, for it is Judaism that defines me. It is an essential part of who I am, so my perspective always comes from that point of view. I am a Jewish man. But I will present some things that are spinning in my head, because I also believe that others are dealing with similar thoughts. I know they are based on notes and conversations with you, our readers, and also family and friends. So let me spin, and then stop… and look at my thoughts and try to find solutions for them through a more precise Jewish lens.
This blog began as Ben and I walked home from a lecture by David Sacks. We, along with Stacy L had a deep discussion about the holiness of every day, which was the theme of David’s talk that morning. A lesson not lost on me now… especially as we prepare to move into an extra holy period.The world is in chaos. While I know, or hope I really know that Hashem is in control, it is getting harder and harder to be okay with the craziness that seems to be all around us. As I write this, I look outside and the sun is shining, the air is still and all seems right with the world. Yes, I live in a bit of a bubble, for which I am deeply grateful and humble for… but then the news comes on.
Covid. Pandemic. Fires all over California. Hurricanes in the south and on the East Coast. Nature causing heartache and destruction.
Civil unrest in the streets, due to an issue long festering, where unarmed black men are shot to death by white police. Violence and hatred. Deep divide.And anti-Semitism worse than I ever remember it to be. The University Of Delaware Chabad House a victim of arson. Signs being held over the 405 declaring “Honk if you know the Jews want a race war.” And according to my friend, lots of honking.
Arrests gone so very wrong seem to be on the news way too much these days. But arrest also means to stop. We all need to stop.
Go the source… go to the well. What does Torah and Judaism tech us about this moment? And how does Judaism stop our chaotic thoughts, and deal with the very real chaos around us?
This lesson from My Jewish Learning.com calmed me quite a bit. As did the lessons I have learned from all my teachers and mentors… Rabbi Shlomo Seidenfeld, Rabbi Avi Rabin and Howard Witkin.
We need to stop… and we need to focus.“The spiritual work we have to do is to decide what we are going to pay attention to. We have survived other chaotic and anxiety-driven situations in our lives. We have the tools; they are inscribed in our souls from the beginning. Ours is the work of being mindful, of meditating or paying attention in order to decide where we are putting kavanah, our intention and our attention.”
This amazing article by Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein looks at the creation of the world… giving order to chaos and concludes with this:
“It is on us to do the work of differentiation and paying attention. These are not times to slouch on the couch and be consumed by the confusion, the chaos or the void. This is when our resolve is tested, when we draw ourselves out of the tohu va’vohu, the unformed void, by remembering the and. Let’s be really mindful about every aspect of our life in the re-creation that it is happening in front of our eyes. When we do this work, with help, with partnerships, with conversations, we help a new order to emerge.”Arrest also means to stop… stop trying to fight our emotions and sense of loss on our own. Stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and feeling lost and helpless. We all need to stand up off that couch and say Hineni (Here I am) and be there for others… and know that others, and our community, are there for us.So when the world spins, when our heads and thoughts spin, when we seem lost and confused, STOP. Hashem is in control. So let go of the things we have no control over, and control what we can.
STOP. Listen. Really hear and speak. Ask for help. Have coversations.
STOP. Breathe, and love. Just stop.
“Will our answer be chaos or community?”
– Martin Luther King III
“If you’re looking for a savior, find a mirror.”
– Martin Luther King III
We are created in G-d’s image and we are partners with Hashem. So stop, look at yourself and do what you can… and know you are never… we are never alone. STOP.