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Cry Out. Call Me. Call Each Other.

03/25/2020 01:05:44 PM


What does Judaism say about loss, separation, and living in times of stress and uncertainty?

WHAT does JUDaism saY …..??!?
I can’t do it effectively in print, but I’m imagining a voice, that inflected voice with the upturn at the end, one that perhaps you remember or still hear from relatives, from Jewish comedians, from movies… that eternal kind of question that comes with a shrug, eyes turned heavenward, and upturned hands?
The short answer is: a lot.
The long version is: Torah. The Torah that is the story of the Jewish people, our cumulative textual tradition, the cumulative wisdom of so many stories from our past, the histories of the countries we were born into, of families we became part of, the families we choose.
In our written Torah we find:  מִן־הַ֖מֵּצַֽר קָרָ֣אתִי יָּ֑הּ  min hametsar karati Yah – from my distress, I cried out: “Yah!” עָ֜נָ֗נִי בַּמֶּרְחָ֣ב יָֽהּ anani vamerkav Yah – Yah answered me, bringing spacious relief (Psalm 118:5).
Crying out from our distress, from our constrained/constricted/narrow places – meanings drawn directly from the root צַֽר / tsar – bring us into wider channels, open places, the room-y spaces of מֶּרְחָ֣ב / merkav!
This is why we are so lucky, so blessed, by the tools of Torah, and of our times.  Even while we are physically separated from each other in our much narrower places, constrained as we may be from our usual expansive pathways and portals, we can cry out, we can hear each other’s distress, and connect, bringing each other relief.
This is a teaching we can draw out from many of our texts and stories, a teaching of many rabbis, theologians and story tellers, told in many version and forms.

  • the short-hand God-language version: God’s hands are our hands. Read a wonderful version of the story that you can share with your young ones here.
  • the short-hand tech-driven version: the old TV commercial slogan: Reach out and Touch Someone. Watch one version right here, and even with the “old” hair styles and phone styles, you will surely glean that connecting voice-to-voice, reaching out, is a technology for the moment.

This, then, is what Judaism says, what this moment calls for – call out from the places you are in, reach out, reach out, and surely you will be heard and answered with support that is open and generous and spacious.

- Rabbi Liz

Sun, September 20 2020 2 Tishrei 5781