The portion for this week, “Ki Tavo” is replete with curses and a few blessings. Moses completes his second summary sermon with more warnings about what may come to pass. The end of the portion, which serves as the beginning of his final summary, with another reminder to observe the laws in order to prosper. There is a verse in Chapter 29 of Deuteronomy which caught my eye and, for some reason, reached out to me as it seems to relate to our generation, especially as we near the New Year and approach the moment of “s’lichot”, that quiet service prior to Rosh Hoshonnah that marks a real “turning” to the new.
Moses begins his final summary reminding the people of all that God has done for them. “Yet, to his day, God has not given you a mind to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear” (Deut. 29:3). Did that mean that the Israelites never really understood or grasped what was taking place these past 40 years? In their book “Sparks Beneath The Surface”, Rabbis Larry Kushner and Kerry Olitsky reference a source which alludes to the idea that the Israelites never really understoon because they were in the midst of living the story. (p. 250).
That idea trigerred a thought. We will come to the Holidays very soon and take time to pause and reflect on what has transpired in our lives this past year and what we hope will happen in 5776. But how will we approach that reflection? The text in 29:3 cautions us, I think, that we need to devote all of our self, our eyes, our mind, our ears; all of our senses to be fully present to be with God. For some that may mean a surrender to what they call God; to hand life over to God. For some, it may mean that, in my fullest expression of self, I accept what life gives me and celebrate it. For some, it may mean that I embrace my life with all my senses, embrace it and savor its potential and in that, understand that every moment is a gift, every day a new opportunity for creation.
We Boomers stand at many crossroads. These coming Holidays are a very stark reminder that we are being called to embrace our life and future with all of our senses; our minds, our bodies our souls. That means to embrace the sacred in every aspect of life and not to compartmentalize it. As we “turn” to 5776, this total embrace of the holy can privide us with powerful foundation for our own future growth.
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.