If there is anything the events of the past few months have taught us, it is that every day is a precious gift. We never know what is around the corner – pain or joy or both. How do we remember what is important?
Many of us are bone-tired, whether from the endless political battles, personal traumas, profound natural disasters, and the resulting suffering and basic fear (can I safely take my teenager to a concert?)
We NEED each other. We need to help each other remember why we were put here in the first place, and how to rest and recover, and seek the highest.
We need spiritual companions who help us remember who we are and where we learn and practice and remember simple ways to stay hopeful and grateful and awake.
Our ancestor Sarah becomes pregnant with her first child at age 91 (can you even imagine?) Here’s how her good news is introduced in next week’s Torah reading: “And God now remembered Sarah.”
The obvious reading is that God must have “forgotten” and now “remembered” God’s former promise to her. (Vayeira)
Yet Rabbi Andrea Cohen suggests a different interpretation of “God remembered.” She wants us to read this not just as God thinks “oh yeah, I told Sarah last year that she’d become pregnant…” but rather, a BIGGER “forgetting” and “remembering” of who and what is important that waxes and wanes – even for God.
She writes, “This ‘forgetting’ will happen again and again, throughout the Bible and throughout history.” She boldly asserts that by “remembering” God takes responsibility for “forgetting” and then turns, turns around, and remembers what and who is important.
Basically, God does teshuvah (turns).
I think there’s a huge lesson for us here.
If God/The Divine Mystery forgets and remembers, what about us?
Remembering and forgetting who we are and what is important is the central work of our lives. It’s easy to go on “automatic.” Have you ever walked in the woods or listened to a beautiful piece of music or had a lovely dinner with friends and said to yourself: “this is amazing and important, why don’t we remember to do this more often?”
Or how about – I love how I feel when I meditate or have a meaningful conversation – why am I not making this a priority in my life?
The Centrality of Companions
Remembering what is important is what ritual and spiritual practice is about. It’s also what community is about. WE wax and wane in our “remembering” and “forgetting” all the time. Some of us can go for years “asleep at the wheel.” And then, we get a wake-up call and want to put what’s most important front and center.
Poet Mary Oliver writes, “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
We ALL need companions on the journey to help us remember and to help wake us up when we have fallen asleep.
Who are those people for you? And what rituals/spiritual practices help connect you back to remembering who you are and your special role on this planet?
Hineni: A Jewish Mindfulness community
Here’s the link for more information: https://www.ravjill.com/hineni/
Wishing you a wonderful rest of Sukkot.
Rabbi Jill Berkson Zimmerman
PS: If you have a friend who you would like to share this journey with, please pass along this info.
*Andrea Cohen in The Women’s Companion to the High Holy Days, by Gail Twersky Reimer and Judith A. Kates, Simon and Schuster.
Begin at the beginning with us this year.
You are warmly invited to join Hineni:
Your Path to Presence
from wherever you are & whoever you are
Any questions? Please write me: Rabbi Jill Zimmerman: RabbiJillZ@gmail.com