Beginning Sunday October 17, we shall embark on an exploration of content found in the daily prayer system that turns ritual into life awareness and strategies for making every day special. That seems like a tall order for people who may not think of prayer as practically applicable or relevant to conditions of daily life. Moreover, many people have deep-rooted associations with Jewish prayer as being rote, stuck in the past, and one of many examples of how distant Jewish ritual may seem from real world concerns.
It calls to mind what I was indicating on Yom Kippur: that the agenda for that day, atonement and forgiveness, only touches the surface of the meaning and impact of that day. It is too easy to ritualize notions of atonement and forgiveness…you say some words, hear some ideas, go through some motions and feel as if you have done your Jewish duty for another year. Atonement and forgiveness are not as much the agenda of Yom Kippur as they are the outcome of the real work that is to be done. When you do the real work, then these notions become powerful experiences, and you come out a truly different person. More accurately, Yom Kippur is a day of transformation: you examine thoughtfully and with feeling who you are, why you are alive, and strategies to undertake to reprioritize your energy and focus for the coming year.
Following up on that notion of strategies that go further and deeper than the ritual of prayer, we will begin, on Sunday October 17 at 10:45 AM a monthly journey through the daily visit with U KNOW HU, HaShem, and how the Daily Amidah, also known as the Shmoneh Esrey, becomes a detailed strategic system for making each day an experience that builds on the transformation provided by Yom Kippur. It is all about your power in life: how you can live more effectively in doing more of what you value and connecting with and building stronger relationships with people who share your commitment to reprioritization.
It begins with accepting that life is an extraordinary Game, whose rules are subtle and whose guidelines are designed to bring out your best and the best in people with whom you share your journey. Those of you who found some of the ideas suggested during the Days of Awe offering new and different ways to think of old customs and habits will see that these monthly visits will build on that experience.
We will look at subtleties embedded in the text of the Daily Journey, the Daily Amidah, and we will explore, building on your participation and insights, how Judaism is inherently and potentially a strategic system, not found in other formats. It can make better sense of your daily challenges, travails and joyous moments, and harnesses that energy to enable you to see ritual, both the tradition’s and ritual of your own creation, as a means to bring greater and deeper meaning and fulfillment to your ongoing journey through life.
Given the power of the experience so many of us shared during the Days of Awe, I am very excited about continuing this energy and process with you as we help one another make this new year one of tremendous blessing and accomplishment despite outside pressures and stresses that threaten our sense of wellbeing and hopefulness.
I also anticipate that sharing this experience will continue to enrich the sense that B’nai Israel offers a framework and structure for community in ways that we seem to need increasingly in times of difficulty and overwhelm
I look forward to seeing you then and in all the other contexts with which we are blessed to be of strength, blessing and inspiration to one another.