19 Elul 5774
By Carol Black
This is Real and You Are Completely Unprepared is the title of a book written by Rabbi Alan Lew (Deceased) that I have read on my own and with spiritual book groups in preparation for the High Holidays. The book is an existential take on our everyday life and experiences, and there’s one passage that I’ve found particularly thought provoking which I wanted to share today:
The Soul Stretches Out to Contain Itself – A Map of the Journey
Rabbi Lew maintains that our journey leading up to, and including, the High Holidays is one we most likely do while half awake. We are encouraged to keep our eyes on the starting point, to include the essentials that will sustain us through our journey, and to look to where we can start afresh. However, more than likely we start off doing exactly what we did the last year. His point being that when we use the same process, we’ll often get to the same ending.
According to experts, memories direct much of our actions. We maintain the information that we recognize and tend to discard the information that is not familiar or already stored in our memory banks as a survival-based process. Perhaps there is another way.
We can focus on our prejudices which do form strong emotional reactions to the information we are often seeking and reframe them. If we free ourselves to become more all-embracing in our thinking, or even more compassionate, we could establish a new process to a more enlightened path through the High Holidays. And, we use this new process to examine and come to know the Days of Awe using this different road map. Then, we can accept an alternative path involving a break with our traditional thoughts and personal ways.
Our alternative with this approach is to open ourselves up directly to the Spirit, the Higher Power instead of the socially acceptable norms of our culture that we have been taught to believe and act on. The path that proves correct often frees us from shame and opens us to create a new dream, a connection to a different understanding. When we decide to make and accept this change in ourselves we can influence others to do so. Our doubt lessens when we change our perspective and is replaced often by alternative creative and new solutions. Shalom.