Reflecting on the Real
(C) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
in honor of Neshama Carlebach
What do we find when we go to shul? I've been struck, over and over,
by the choreography of synagogue services. People strive to master
the 'stand-ups' and the 'sit downs', the 'bow down' and 'rise up.'
Those are ritual motions. But what do they feel like? What do they
help us achieve? What, I ask, are our 'ritual emotions?' Is the
limited heart-stirring some feel despite knowing 'the right moves' a
failure of the choreography, a shortcoming of the rituals themselves?
No. Ritual works. Ancient Jewish ritual works incredibly well.
The difference is an open, willing heart, ready to do the necessary
work to let the needs of the world mix with the particular ingredients
of one's soul.
And the only failure is not naming this expectation, this sublime
burden, and in Jewish religious leadership not challenging every
person in shul to see themselves as seekers of the sacred.
Rise in awe of all the world has to offer. Bow in awe of the Divine
Potential we together are. Rise in purposeful response. And then
sing and cry from the blessed weight of it all.
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