“Heal us God, and we shall be healed” is how a prayer in the daily “Amidah” begins. If health is of paramount importance as we face a new year, following close behind is the hope for healing. This is not restricted to a physical healing. No, the Holiday season looks deeper that that. It opens the pathways to the possibility of spiritual healing. After all, is not that one of the key themes of the upcoming Ten Days?
Why this value of healing? I think that this concept speaks to a deep need in all of us. None of us gets to the stage of life where we are without some “issues”. Too often, as we have discussed here before, we are bound by past events, events and feelings that restrict us from moving forward. These could be family issues, disagreements that have festered for years. They could be regrets over decisions made years ago, or paths not taken. They bind us, as sure as the ropes that bound Isaac in Genesis 22. The call of the Shofar in these holidays is, as the tradiiton notes, a “wake up” call to the soul, a call to wake the soul from inertia and give it the freedom to move forward in life. This spiritual healing is not attainable by any pill or magic elixer. No, this spiritual healing is hard work on a deeply personal level. It requires courage, and a sense of faith, faith in one’s self. It may also involve a sense of risk.
Listening to the voice in your own soul frightens people. It is, in many ways, like Abram’s moment in Genesis 12 when he hears God’s call to “go forth” into a future not knowing what that future will be. The Holidays call to that same sense of movement. Yes, each of us have obligations. Each of us can find reasons why we cannot, at this time, listen to our souls. We say “someday, when things change”. But, as we know, life continues to evolve. Nothing stays the same. Can we?
Boomers are at the stage of life when we will be confronted with a series of challenges and choices. Many of them involve changing how we see our self, what we wish for and how we can heal the wounds that time and life have given us. That spiritual healing begins with us. Remember, one of the most important and psychologically sound concepts of the Holidays is the call that, in this season, we are asked to make amends with anyone we have hurt, to bind up those wounds and seek a healing of the soul. By doing that, the Tradition says, we will be freed to move forward. This challenge to begin this personal spiritual healing begins with Rosh Hoshonnah and Yom, Kippur. but it is a continuing process. Yet, this process may be THE most important sub text of the Holiday season. By seeking that spiritual healing, we can also move to a level of health, both physical and spiritual, that we all desire. If the Holidays celebrate the concept of Creation, does it not seem acceptable this creation begin with each of us?
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.