Health, Healing, Wholeness and now the idea of Holiness. These, I suggest, can form the values that support a relationship to self and the sacred for the coming year.We have written this past month on the values of staying healthy in mind and body, of the need for personal healing and the hope that we can live and create a fully integrated life, a life of “shleimut”. These three values give rise to the fourth value, the value that arises when we hold fast to the previous three; the idea and ideal of holiness.
The Torah portions of Yom Kippur will reveal much of we consider to be a life of holiness. These readings will look at how life can be constructed so that it is a life of holiness as well as having us look at how we make choices so as to live in that light. The concept of holiness deeply involves the relationship that we have with God. A difficult thing to discuss? Yet, if you look at Exodus 3, you may find a pathway that speaks to each of our challenges when it comes to what that word and concept “god” really means. For the Exodus passage is about Moses and the burning bush and the name that is given to Moses by that voice. In many modern translations the phrase “ehyeh,asher ehyeh” is left un-translated. The sense of that speaks to what we face during Elul and moving into Rosh Hoshonnah. There is, nor can there be, any one fixed perception of God. The “one-ness” of Judaism is open-ended. What this un-translated name means is that at every age that we find ourselves, we are challenged to review, renew and re-engage our own definition and relationship with God. Why? Because we change and, as we live, grow and evolve, Jewish tradition gives us the power to re-imagine what our relationship to God may be. Thus, God is ever evolving as we evolve. The “one-ness” is never fixed and static.
For some reason, so many never understand this. For many of us, we carry with us the God concept of what we took off the “bimah” following a bar/bat Mitzvah or Confirmation. Yet, we are not 13 or 16. We have lived much of life, been tested and evolved as human beings. Should we not also seek to re-define what our relationship with God can be? In truth, this is what this season is about. It is a moment to pull aside the curtains that separate us from our true self and our God. This is the charge of this season. To live a life of health and healing and wholeness, Judaism asks us to make choices within the prism of how those choices will impact our health, our healing and our drive for wholeness. To do that is hard work and an understanding that this is the work of a life time. It changes as we change, for Judaism knows that change is a positive value and a key to our own growth. Yet, if these values can form the foundation of our life, we will engage in the creation of a life of holiness, and in doing so, complete this “chuppah of relationship” that can embrace us for the coming year.
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.