I am excited to be returning to the Temple following my sabbatical this summer. I have been inspired, renewed, and energized by my time in Israel. I have been exposed to ideas and texts which are new to me and I cannot wait to share them with you. I have sat with colleagues, read several books, and enjoyed my children. More important I have gained perspective. The words of the Psalmist remind us of how precious life is:
Adonai, you have been our refuge through all generations.
Before mountains emerged, before the earth was formed,
From age to age, everlastingly, you are God.
But humans you crumble into dust, and say “Return, mortals!”
For a thousand years in your sight are as a passing day, a watch in the night.
You engulf all human beings in sleep.
They flourish for a day like grass. In the morning it sprouts afresh;
By nightfall it fades and withers… Psalm 90
We live filled with great potential, fears, dreams, hopes, limitations, and abilities. By focusing on what is absent, we fail to see what we have in our hands. We are like the grass described by the psalmist. We sprout up, are full of energy in the morning, and wither and die at night (our birth and death cycle). At times we experience life encircling us like a gentle breeze, other times life is a fierce storm that might uproot us. But just underneath us is the mountain. This mountain connects us to God. This mountain was present before we were created and will be present after we leave. If we allow ourselves to focus our mind’s eye as if we were the mountain and not the grass then perhaps we might allow the small things in life to blow over us. We might not focus our energy on our limitations, fears, and pains but focus instead on our potential, dreams, and hopes. I hope that the lessons the Psalmist offers is something which we can take to heart and allow us to grow as an individual and as part of a community.
Temple B’nai Sholom is an amazing congregation. It is full of beautiful families who join together when faced with tragedy and suffering as well as happiness and joys. It is a community which supports one another, learns together and grows to become a light to others. This coming year, as we near Tisha B’Av, a holiday commemorating the destruction of the Temple and just before Rosh Hashanah, let us think about how we are like the mountain underneath the grass. Let us focus on the joys and gifts warming us and allow those items which trouble us to simply blow over. By focusing on the words of the Psalmist we will recognize that we are part of something greater than ourselves. We will recognize that in supporting the congregation we will support each other and grow both individually and collectively. May you and your family be blessed with a sweet start to the school year. I look forward to praying, studying, and engaging with you soon!