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Wholehearted Repair

07/28/2021 09:52:35 AM


I spend a majority of work as a Rabbi toiling in the vineyards of healing.  That doesn’t mean that I completely or usually succeed.  But, when it comes down to it, it feels like the driving force within Judaism, and the subsequent raison d’etre of a Rabbi, is to seek and pursue healing.  Healing rifts.  Overcoming and perhaps smoothing tensions.  Finding equanimity within one’s persona, one’s psyche.  Wrestling with what Milan Kundera called, l’insoutenable legerte de l’etre, the unbearable lightness of being, that seems to flow through so much of our ancient texts and rituals, and especially comes to the fore as we conclude one Jewish year and commence with the next.

The last year+ has been wholly difficult and challenging in ways that have weighed upon all human beings.  The inevitable intimacy of humanness has been thrust upon us, as well as the concomitant discovery of how foreign so many of us seem to each other, presents a dichotomy that tears at the fabric of our interconnectedness.  We humans are powerful, and our ability to affect the world around us grows with each new innovation, in each new ensuing epoch.  But we suffer so much with containment.  We struggle with discernment.  We forget that while survival may indeed be a dominating trait of humanity, connection is not always served in its wake. 

Anne Lamont writes in Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, There's a lovely Hasidic story of a rabbi who always told his people that if they studied the Torah, it would put Scripture on their hearts. One of them asked, "Why on our hearts, and not in them?" The rabbi answered, "Only God can put Scripture inside. But reading sacred text can put it on your heart, and then when your hearts break, the holy words will fall inside.” 

This Yom Kippur afternoon, we will present a wholly new and, I believe, inspiring “healing” service entitled, “Wholehearted Repair.”  I put the word, healing in quotes because I am no longer sure we can offer it.  Not that I don’t seek healing for you, for our world, for myself, but it feels, after this past 15 months, that perhaps our focus needs to be on repair – tikkunTikkun is the mandate we inherit from our origins – we, each of us, is infused by God’s spirit and yet we are anchored to the earth; to me, this means we are invited into the best of both worlds.  We can connect with the soulful aspects of ourselves with the shutting of eyelids, focused breathing, and slowing down.  And God is there, the moment we open the door.  And we can as well, with the lifting of our eyes, breathe into our presence for someone else, and take a beat to notice the suffering of others.  “Wholehearted Repair” will provide you with an hour on Yom Kippur afternoon to re-imagine the repair you wish to take up in the world, and the invitation to count your blessings for the repairs you have witnessed and made happen.  With powerful music, engaging poetry, and guided meditation, we will uncover our aim towards repair for the year to come. 

I am very grateful to Rabbi Laura Sheinkopf, Cantorial Soloist Hannah Madeleine Goodman, Holly Hunsicker, and Ann Friedman for their guidance, proofing and participation in making this new addition to Yom Kippur a meaningful way to recognize the year and a half behind us and the many years ahead.

Wed, August 17 2022 20 Av 5782