Hiding behind the curtain.

Posted: March 4th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

This started out as a comment to a post from my friend, Rabbi Amy Small, but as I was composing it, I realized that it’s context was better suited to its own post.

In my minds eye, the ability to laugh at oneself is a both an indication of how one enjoys life as well as a marker of one’s confidence in living. At a Purim play and carnival, Rabbi Amy Joy Small took on some rather unconventional roles that evidently caused some to pause. Why? Perhaps because she was acting outside of how a Rabbi is stereotypically perceived. To varying degrees, I think the title “Rabbi” generally evokes images of a more dour, serious and older male in most people. Further, I think synagogue evokes the image of a sacred, serious and somewhat solemn place controlled by a rigid hierarchy of wise and near perfect learned men.

With no disrespect intended, its all a bit like the Wizard of Oz as presented in the film; an awe inspiring individual whose perceived power lies in his mastery of arcane information. He resides in the most sacred section of the great Emerald City, protected by guards and limiting his contact with the citizenry who look to him for leadership and guidance. As such, his legend and mystique are based more upon managed perception then the actuality of deeds and character. It is only when this “wizard” is inadvertently unveiled by an animal, which is immune to the crafted personae, is revealed to be a mere man hiding behind a curtain, that the “wizard” acknowledges his humanity, faults and all. By understanding and accepting his own shortcomings rather than focusing on living up to the image he created, he is now free to see the strengths of others and he is able to open their eyes to these qualities.

In actuality a Rabbi puts on her pants one leg at a time (just like everyone else) and a synagogue is just a structure where the congregation (i.e. community) can gather together. What makes our congregation both distinct and appealing to many is that our shared humanity, quirks and strengths are honestly embraced and accepted. A culture of seeing everyone as a person who has value and must be respected is continually emphasized and fostered. And this does not just apply to congregants or even just Jews, but to all individuals.¬† I saw this immediately when as a family we joined many years ago (it was at my wife’s behest as I had no desire to join anything). I have continually told my kids that our synagogue, our congregation is a place where you can see how regular people, including clergy, lay leadership and members all bring in divergent perspectives and idiosyncrasies but they are united by the goal of trying act unselfishly, responsibly and with true concern for others. And by others, I mean all others. That is the ultimate take away and that is why we belong here.

You can't get there from here, because you are already there.

Posted: February 3rd, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

My friend, Rabbi Amy Joy Small, posted an article that illustrates how we can long for and even try to chase down simplicity but never actually achieve it. She points out that it is not just about doing less stuff, but that we actually need to take time for ourselves, to replenish and regain our perspective. For example, after a challenging day, Rabbi Amy comes home and says that she wants to be a muffin maker in her next life (how many Rabbis do you know that not only address but are making plans for their reincarnation?). But then she quickly recognizes that this is simply a transient reaction to the frustrations of her day, which still linger, fresh in her mind. And with that, she lets go of both the day and its associated stresses.

I would take her concept even further. From my perspective it is not about doing anything, be it doing more or doing less; it is about how we, as individuals, choose to perceive our own situations in any given moment. For example, on Monday you hate your job and you are determined to quit. On Tuesday you are let go. On Wednesday you wake up and desperately long for the job that you were about to quit 2 days before. Would you feel different if you actually quit on Monday? The end result is the same, it is just your perception of the moment that is different.

I’ve written about how our science is unable to understand or even identify what makes up “reality”. Frankly it doesn’t (or isn’t) matter. Actuality simply is. Reality is an illusion, it is what we each choose to impart to actuality. My reality is not your reality. And its not hers or the cat in the box’s reality. While they are all separate and distinct, they share many overlapping points of commonality which conveniently provide us with a frame of reference in which can interact and share experiences. It is those shared experiences, the interactions with those we love and care about, caring about and extending help to those who we don’t and may never know and simply finding the value in a given moment which impart that elusive satisfaction into our own lives.