Well, once again it has been quite a while since I posted anything here. A lot has happened in the last two years, to be sure – graduated, became a rabbi, got married… I’m a step-parent now. For real. But there will be time enough to hash all that out. For now, this is what I have to say: For those of you out there who actually read this thing, I apologize for letting it languish for so long. Due to one thing and another, for a long time I wasn’t certain that I actually had anything to say. Now, I’ve decided that I do. So stay tuned, I guess. In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been praying this year for Sukkot:
Beloved God, often are you praised as the one who settled our wandering ancestors in the land of your promise, but how often do we praise you for commanding Abraham and Sarai to abandon house and home for a life of wandering? Often are you praised as the maker of peace; how often do we praise you as the one who unsettles the mind and brings disquiet to the heart? Contentment, security, comfort – we crave these things above all else, and so we beg you for them when we don’t have them and praise you for them when we do. And yet, what is it that you ask of us? To “go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)
In our generation many of us have only a tenuous connection to the soil, and so it may seem paradoxical to us that this the season of harvest rejoicing was also for our ancestors the time of deepest anxiety. Giving thanks for the sustaining bounty of the earth, they also prayed like hell for the life giving rains that might or might not come this year. This then was the essence of your promise – to take us out of slavery in a land of security watered by the never-ceasing Nile and to grant us freedom in a land whose rocky heights are forever dependent on the rains of heaven. So goes the psalm:
Place not your trust in human benefactors
In human beings without power to save
Their spirit leaves, they go back to the ground
On that day their plans are lost
Happy is the one with the God of Jacob for a help
Whose hope is in the Lord our God
Dear one, you know what we are like. In unsettled times it is hard for us not to dig in, to retrench, to close the gates and bar the doors and wait for the storm to pass regardless of who might knock without, looking for shelter. This, we know, is the way of humanity, but it is not your way, and so you command us at this time of year to leave the security of our homes, to camp out in temporary shelters like the refugees we are and were and ever will be, to welcome in every guest.
And so, in this the season of our insecurity, we pray to you not for comfort, but for clarity; not for complacency, but for compassion; not, above all else, for security, but for the disquiet of the heart that drives us out into the world to do your work.