August is here and that always signals the end of summer. That means you have just about a month to do some shopping around if you want to join a synagogue this fall. If you want a buddy to go with you, just email me. I’ll set it up – I have friends everywhere.
Why look for a synagogue?
Because there can never be too many people looking out for you. I told you that I would ask my synagogue’s women’s group to bake with me for my nephew in Iraq. I did. Some came to my house, some delivered cookies. Some gave me sheets to sent to his unit (they don’t have enough), some brought me tuna packs and cup-of-soup. Some just sat and chatted. I got comfort, my nephew got eight boxes of goodies. My friends did a mitzvah. Win-win-win.
Can we understand why we are here?
Packing those boxes made me wonder, what should I be doing? Should I quit my job and devote myself to ending war on the planet? Should I fly to Texas to take care of his young wife and baby? Just why am I here? I don’t have an answer but I got some help from Rabbi Larry Raphael’s comments on last week’s Torah Portion, Masei. What he said is eternal so I am sharing it with you:
Tradition provides ways to arrange and understand our lives, which can often be understood through the struggles and successes of our predecessors. Gradually we watch as out of our own deeds a design emerges.
Kierkegaard writes that life must be lived forward but can only be understood backward. To put the insight differently, we might recall the poignant words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who writes that God speaks slowly in our lives, a syllable at a time; not until we reach the end of life can we read the sentences backward. Judaism offers us a way to understand God’s words in our lives so that they are meaningful, even eloquent.
You can speak to Rabbi Raphael yourself if you go to services at Sherith Israel in San Francisco. Or you can email him at email@example.com.