I’ve been asked, why, what, how? …
Getting deep into this question is something I’ve avoided. I want the tent to be as big as possible. I’ve been afraid that what draws me might be a nothing burger for you or someone else. Maybe even a turn off. And what draws you might not be the same for me.
And yet, this is my blog. So I guess it’s my place to say my experience as it’s my party. 🙂 (Leslie Gore 1963). Many things turned me off to religion before I found my own love for it… especially talk about G-d.
That said… we’re friends here… I’ll keep love and consideration of my fellow going, yet throw caution to the wind.
My love affair with Judaism has been a slow burn. Here is a quick overview of key pieces.
1. SIMPLE DESIRE. I thought I would need all sorts of spiritual gymnastics to find faith and trust in G-d. At the end of the day, I found that simply the DESIRE to believe was enough. In fact, this was the core. Initially my desire was just for faith in a generic G-d, NOT for Judaism.
2. Through a fortuitous process, I came upon EXCITING BELIEFS IN JUDAISM. I discovered ideas about joy, oneness, and a very personal relationship with a loving G-d that I never knew existed in Judaism.
3. My precious friend Reggie spoke glowingly of Judaism. Through her eyes, a Catholic woman who loves G-d dearly, I got a fresh look at the religion of my ancestors and OPENED MY MIND WIDE.
4. This is the toughest. No justice to this topic will be done in this short synopsis. I will just say here, I came to believe in, accept, love and know I am loved and protected by a G-d that exists EVEN WITH the Holocaust.
5. Perhaps the most important … I came upon a Rabbi and Jewish people with whom I felt wholly EMBRACED, WELCOMED, AND LOVED. I fell in love not only with how they treated people, but with their passion, joy and DOWNRIGHT FUN!
I also loved how they lived with DIGNITY, self respect, and respect for others. This was the anchor and the clincher. Again, I found desire. I belonged and I wanted to belong.
6. MITZVAHS. Mitzvah means commandment, but it also means to connect with G-d. I have slowly been adding mitzvahs to my life. Both the ones we understand: Love your neighbor as yourself, visit the sick, give tzedakah. And the ones we don’t necessarily understand: Eat kosher, follow the laws of the Sabbath, light candles on Shabbat BEFORE sundown.
Adding mitzvahs has created the biggest surprise. An unexpected and new sense of belonging in my own skin, dignity, and comfort in the world has emerged.
AND, a most delightful irony is happening. Like the great Rabbis Hillel and Akiva teach, I believe that the core of the Torah is loving your neighbor as yourself. Striving to do this, not for nothing, has not been easy!
As I add mitzvahs, this illusive action of loving my neighbor has become easier! After years of striving, this ability unexpectedly is sprouting. I wonder if this is due to the “AS YOURSELF” part. The mitzvah to love your neighbor as yourself PRESUPPOSES self-love. But self-love is not always so easy. When we do these mitzvahs, perhaps we are actually loving ourselves in ways we don’t even understand.
G-d asks. We do. We connect.
… and then we can love our fellow.
For now…. I’ll just say,
I love you,
P.P.S. I want to share my new “Shomer Shabbats” with you. Last week was my third Shomer. I can’t resist also mentioning Walter from the Big Lebowski. Walter and my Shomers may be a little different, but he ALWAYS makes me laugh. Please join me, in a micro celebration of Shabbat. Followed by Walter’s take! (*** Walter’s video is R rated for language)
*PLEASE NOTE… WALTER’S VIDEO BELOW HAS A LOT OF EXPLICIT LANGUAGE (R rated for language)