A smart rabbi knows how to separate her vocation from her personal identity.
A wise rabbi knows how to integrate both.
As I was typing this sermon, my two beauteous children were chasing each other with foam swords, the living room looks like toys exploded all over it and an ever-insurmountable pile of dishes is guilt-tripping us into washing them. These are of course not the images that make it into the family album or onto the social media account. It is not the story we are comfortable telling about ourselves.
As we contend with complex issues of polarization, hatred, the call for increased security, the inability to speak to difference and the myriad reflections on our American Jewish identities, one thing stands out clearly for me as a non-Orthodox, ‘Reformative’ rabbi. This is the hour of our Judaism.
Much has been written about the role of women in Scripture – far too much for me to summarize here. Women are compromised, erased, subjugated…. This is not an ancient story; it’s a very contemporary story and the obvious parallels leap at us from the page.
We live in a world of information overload. In fact, we are so super saturated by choice and by information, that it can actually paralyze us and shut us down. This phenomenon is called ‘decision fatigue’…. In our hyper-complex world, we are spoilt for choice… and the choice can spoil us.
Perhaps our Jewish future is like Schroedinger’s Cat: whether we live or die, thrive or decline, is a matter of perception. Abraham had to journey into the great Unknown: ‘el ha’aretz asher ar’echa’ – ‘to a land that I will show you’. He was called to draw on all his inner resources and vision in order to heed that vision.
This High Holiday cycle, we are exploring this verse as we try to understand and answer the charge of ‘veheyeh b’rachah’, of how we can be a blessing. Our previous sermonic journeys have forayed into the territory of the soul. ‘Lech lecha’ – we have ventured into ourselves, and reached for our deepest purpose because, as I said during my sermon for Shabbat Shuvah: we cannot live Jewish lives by instinct alone: we are called to make Judaism our own and ascribe to it a higher mission. When we discover how we want to shape our lives and take ownership of our Judaism, we can act with generosity, with confidence and hope, with love, with joy—and be a blessing.