As we gradually flow toward the Holidays, we are reminded that we hope that the new year will bring us health of body and mind and a healing of physical and emotional “hurts”. This brings me to a third value that can be seen as we construct our “chupah” of relationships for 5777. That third value is that of wholeness. The Hebrew for this value is “shleimut”. It carried within it the root for the word “shalom”. This idea of wholeness is especially meaningful for us Boomers. We are at a stage in life, now, when we can begin to “put it all together”. We have lived enough and have been tested by life so that we can make judgements about our future from, we hope, a perspective born more out of the wisdom of life experience than a desire or need for material gain. This “generativity”, is an age that has within it the possibilities of creativity as well as the gnawing reality of our own mortality. As we have written before, this is an age when we become more aware that our horizon does have a limit, and so we become more aware of the gift of time.
Genesis 3, the Adam and Eve myth, is instructive here because in that chapter the Biblical author introduces us the reality of our mortality. God’s haunting question of “ayekah”(where are you), is ever present. We come to, we hope, understand that we spend out life trying to answer that “ayekah” question, coming to ask, often in the moments of deep introspection, the “why” question of life. Why was I born? Why must I die? Why am I here, for what purpose is my life? No greater questions exist. They are the questions that gave birth to religion and they form a not so subtle theme of the entire High Holiday liturgy.
The search for a true integrated self is at the heart, I think, of the Holiday period. This value of “shleimut” emerges, I suggest, as a strong desire within each of us as we age. There is a turning, for many, from the emphasis on the material in life, to the spiritual. There is a turning to consider one’s legacy, of what we wish to leave behind to our children and grandchildren. I think this is part of our desire to be “whole”. If we are lucky enough to have our health and have arrived at a place in life where we have been healed from the issues and events in life that can hinder our own personal and spiritual growth, then we can begin to approach this third value and to make it a part of our life and a foundation upon which to live in this coming year.
Rabbi Richard F Address, D.Min
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.