Friday, January 28, 2011

A Commanding Love

And you shall love the Lord Your God with all your soul, with all your heart, with everything that you have . . . Deuteronomy 6:5

“Can God command our love?” I asked my sixth-grade students at Temple Micah, a Reform congregation in the Northwest quadrant of the District of Columbia.

They looked at me in disbelief and bewilderment -- and the ultimate test of listening: a resounding silence.

“Do you love your parents?”


"Do they command you to love them?"

Not exactly.

“How do you show them that you love them?"

Doing things that they want us to do.

“What kinds of things?”

Making our beds in the morning. Brushing our teeth.

“Anything else?“

Sometimes I surprise them by doing my homework even before they ask me to!

“So, how do we as Jews show God that we love the God of our matriarchs and patriarchs?"

They began to unwrap their answers.

By acting in a moral way. By praying thoughtfully. By helping others. By giving tzedakah. By loving your brother and not fighting with him all the time. By doing good deeds on a regular basis. By following in the path of the prophet Micah.

To do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.

One can command actions, but one cannot command feelings. The Ineffable One offers us directions on how to follow a path of goodness. We show our love for God when we perform the mitzvot (the commandments) out of love.

God is commanding the actions (the mitzvot) -- not the love they demonstrate. If we keep these words in our hearts and practice them, in return, our hearts and our souls and everything we have inside of us finds satisfaction and peace.

Monday, January 24, 2011

God is Awesome

The auditorium at the U.S. Department of Energy was subdued, still, and suitable for this annual commemoration honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was escorted to the first row and seated in front of the stage. To the right of the podium, a picture of the Rev. Dr. King decorated the backdrop with a banner that read, “In celebration of the dream he had for all of us.”

An African-American woman wearing a necklace strung with large white pearly baubles sat next to me. She had been asked to sing the national anthem for the first time. Her smile matched her magnificent necklace.

“I just started working here after being out of work for a year-and-a-half,” she volunteered. She turned her eyes towards me as she proudly announced, “God is awesome!” She continued, “I had to give up my apartment and move in with a roommate. After pursuing jobs everywhere, I finally landed this job as a consultant. I now have my own apartment again. At age fifty, living with another person wasn't to my liking. Being here is my dream come true.”

I wanted to tell her that I, too, lost my job a year and a half ago, but I hesitated to disclose this personal information. Instead, I repeated the phrase, “God is awesome, indeed!” as a response to her call.

We walked up to the podium together. Black and white. Singer and rabbi. The color guard marched towards us, and the national anthem began.

I hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.

Isn’t that what the Rev. Dr. King was all about? The truth of God’s awesomeness in perpetual action.

The invocation prayer given on Tuesday, January 18, 2011:

In the presence of the "King" the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. we come together to remember and to restore his worthy vision to our daily sacred work here at the US Department of Energy.

The major drummer for peace and justice and equality continues to guide us towards the path of freedom through non-violence and mutual understanding.

In the presence of the legacy of the King we gather to remember our role in creating amore perfect union for all faiths for all people for all time.

We call upon the Holy One, the Majesty of Majesties, to bless the work of our hands and the dedication of our hearts every day and every time we participate in the service of the "King".


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Question of Healing

What is healing?

Healing is not simply a return to some wholeness in the past. Rather it is a careful rebuilding of a life in a present that does not deny what has happened.

Healing occurs when you stop asking “Why” and start asking, “Now that this has happened how will I live?”

How long does healing take?

Healing happens when it happens and it takes as long as it takes.

What will help me heal faster?

Abundant unconditional Divine love from family and friends.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Pursuit of Prosperity

The pursuit of money does not bring the pursuit of happiness.

Life is tricky that way.

Following your bliss continues to be the only way towards a meaningful and purpose-driven life.

It is easy and dangerous to be pulled in other directions. Temptation for the gold fosters a blurring of the senses. Sometimes,although it is difficult to admit, we take our eyes off the prize. What we really want is temporarily disguised under false pretenses. This momentary delusion can steer us in a direction of self- deception and personal spiritual ruin.

Decide to take the road less taken. Pursue your passion. It is the only thing that will bring both the pursuit of happiness* and* the pursuit of prosperity.