The closing bell (and with the way the market has been this last week I apologize for that reference) is upon us. This is the last day of the Counting of the Omer and as promised I will attempt to put the pieces together for you. This morning I received the following note and thought I'd share it with you mostly because my friends and readers (one and the same) teach me so much. The setting is Israel and the Omer reading referred to is Day 47 entitled "Are We Here Yet?"
Last night I was invited to a "Tikun Leil Shavuot" at a high school in the area (where I used to teach). Read this to the group and we discussed the question you asked in the context of "Studying Judaism In the 21st Century".
Thought you might like to know that for some people the story was less important than your question. In some ways we certainly are not "here" because we spend so much of our busy lives without the possibility of contemplation. Sitting back and considering the story is one thing, but taking the time out to do so is another. In the end, your question was answered individually. G
We have come to the base of Sinai and bring with us our own narratives, the things we have had time to think about in these past 7 weeks. We have been recollecting family and friends and incidents. If the concept of 'we were all at Sinai' is puzzling to you or has been puzzling to you I am hoping that we have put a new spin on it. It is at Sinai that tradition tells us we received the Law, the Teachings. It is at our personal Sinai, our base, that the same holds true. It is at home base that we too learn the rules and try through our lives to incorporate them into a good life, a life of here.
So here we are at NOW, here we are at HERE. The present. The present is where we are, yet in an instant it becomes the past. In my repertoire of stories one of the favorites is about King Solomon's ring. The closing line in Yiddish is 'Gam Zeh Ya-avor' (this too shall pass). Treating the present with special care and reverence, many times hard to do, is the underlying message. If things are bad they will be over and if things are good they will be over as well. The object is to treat each incident as if it has some special value. Not a new idea, clearly one you knew but who does have the time to contemplate? Who doesn't want to wish the bad away? To hang on to the good?
I promised you a lesson in creating a storyboard, a story in three parts. Beginning, middle and conclusion. You did the first two and here we are at NOW at HERE. This is not the conclusion but once again it is a place to begin. I don't know if you've had time to contemplate your story, I don't know if you're happy with the way it is, or if it's time to recognize that changes can be made but you are the one to do it.
Back to our protagonist of the two days past. Beginning life as a slave, raised as a prince of Egypt, then as a runaway and then as a prophet. Making decisions that affected all around him, listening to good advice from family, losing his temper and suffering the loss of family and the ultimate disappointment of not crossing into the Journey's destination. Fictional character or not the model is a strong one and one to learn from. Many of the same situations face all of us. Few of us will lead 600,000 people across a desert (or anywhere), few of us will carry such a burden of responsibility but all of us have the ability to be in control of our story, our sacred narrative.
The question 'ARE WE HERE YET?' should be asked repeatedly.
Tomorrow night is Shavuot, the Festival of the Weeks, or Hag ha-Biddurim (the Festival of the First Fruits) or Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah). It is a joyous holiday, a day of ritual and study. However you plan to spend it, in Synagogue, in a walk in the woods, at work or at play remembering who you are taking with you.
As for me, I am glad you took the time to come along, your comments important, your silences noteworthy and your company exquisite!