Breaking News Today

Thoughts Before Rosh HaShanah 2021 (coinciding with Nitzavim)

Published: in Jewish News by .

The Orchestra Thoughts Before Rosh HaShanah 2021 (coinciding with Nitzavim)   I have two different competing thoughts as I think about the core theme of Rosh HaShana – the Sovereignty of the Divine. On one hand, I know of too much abysmal evil and suffering in the world to believe that the hand of God […]

The post Thoughts Before Rosh HaShanah 2021 (coinciding with Nitzavim) appeared first on Jewish Journal.

The Orchestra

Thoughts Before Rosh HaShanah 2021 (coinciding with Nitzavim)

 

I have two different competing thoughts as I think about the core theme of Rosh HaShana – the Sovereignty of the Divine. On one hand, I know of too much abysmal evil and suffering in the world to believe that the hand of God orchestrates history.  I believe the essence of God includes grace, love and compassion (chen, ve’chesed ve’rachamim). What we humans often do to each other is not God’s will.

Somehow, though, the hand of God shapes us.  The Divine Presence can shape our values, if we do not push that Presence away. I believe that we can experience that presence consciously. I believe we can be transformed by becoming present to the Divine. Does this Presence, however, have a role in what happens between people, to people? I am skeptical of that. I believe in free will.

I also find myself doubting my skepticism.

Certain things that happen to us, and certain people that come into our lives, make us feel that a subtle Divine spirit wafts this way and that. Gifts are given to us, gifts that we could not have imagined. Sometimes we experience the universe as being generous to us.

Sometimes we realize that we ourselves act as the generosity of the Divine.

If I put my official doubt about the hand of God in history aside for a moment and just think about my journey and the journey of those close to me, often I detect a mysterious presence pulling and pushing things in my life and in theirs. A great deal of life is dealing with the troubles we face. But now and then there are people and moments of such radiance that we feel that we have been noticed and attended to.

READ:  Mental health problems have surged during COVID, especially among children, prompting new action by Jewish agencies

When Meirav and I think of how our generous supporters and members, our talented musicians, our hard-working lay leaders and staff came our way, we feel wonder. All of us at Ohr HaTorah benefit from each other’s gifts, and the gift of community we create with each other. Even in this odd time, we feel the bonds of community.

These thoughts take me far from the idea of the Sovereignty of God, a term that sounds so austere, so heavy. Yes, values must reign supreme in my life, but we are much more than values driven beings, doing our duty. We are surrounded by the souls of others. Take a moment – that person over there has a soul, a God-formed beautiful soul, encased in a life that perhaps honors the soul within and perhaps does not. Those around us are trying to find, sometimes so awkwardly, meaning and purpose, love and well-being.

Can you bear that person a gift, can the Divine presence work through you?

Knowing of the suffering of humanity has made me decide that God does not orchestrate history. There seems to be a force out there, forces in history that steamroll individuals’ search for love, justice, truth and beauty. This sickens me. I want to fight against that steamroller. My values drive me, values rooted in God. Perhaps God acts against history, through us.

The values generated by God that drive us, however, often drive us through vistas filled with spaces, notes and chords that form a song, if we listen carefully. Now and then, we can be conscious of ourselves as being part of this divine melody, like angels singing to God. We each have our section, our harmony, our notes, our instrument to play. We search for others with whom we can make music. The brutal, destructive forces are there. But so is the music.

READ:  Yoma 31

God does not seem to orchestrate history. But we each have a seat in an orchestra that plays divine songs of human longing. Perhaps God is attempting to direct this “midnight choir,” a choir filled with drunks and wayward souls, but a choir that now and again makes music that awes the angels into silence.

(Grateful, loving nod to Leonard Cohen.)

 

On this last Shabbat of the Jewish year, I look forward to a year in which we can see souls and hear melodies. The Chasidic tradition sees Rosh HaShanah as the ‘fount of transformation.’  As we are renewed by that fountain, may the song that silences the angels flow through us.

The post Thoughts Before Rosh HaShanah 2021 (coinciding with Nitzavim) appeared first on Jewish Journal.

Source: Jewish Journal https://jewishjournal.com/commentary/blogs/seeking-the-good/340316/thoughts-before-rosh-hashanah-2021-coinciding-with-nitzavim/

Shares
Share This
Finance Advice 2021