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Friday, January 11, 2019

Driving by the Rear View Mirror

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I don't wake up with the intention of making my friends lives crazy, that's just a gift. And today the gift was focused on our shul's sisterhood and the idea that tonight was the Sisterhood Shabbat. 

Tonight KabShab is led by our shul's sisterhood. Looking forward to the dvar Torah and discussions. This should be a more regular thing, I wonder if I might convince the sisterhood to give dvar once a month. They hold the kitchen like NORAD holds Cheyenne Mountain, and need to know that while that is appreciated we need their voices in the sanctuary, now more than ever. And our men need the opportunity to prove their hands work in the kitchen just as well as anyone's!
 I had left these words on a social platform and then thought about it a little and was dissatisfied. I'm always met with surprise and delight by the women of our shul when I'm found standing at the sink with an apron on and doing dishes. I usually say something about how our big hairy hands can do do dishes too. But I don't think it's often the case that lets say "traditional" roles cross over. 

 There was a reply stating that one of the very active women in the community questioned why the Sisterhood even existed anymore. There was a time and regrettably not that long ago that women were still held in second class officially and not allowed to be called up to the Torah. This is no longer the case for us so how is a Sisterhood Shabbat anything but vestigial, and even a little insulting? 

 Perhaps I spend too much time in the mystical. I contended that to not have women and men davening together as equal partners, to isolate and exclude women from a full service was equatable to spilling seed. Is not having a fully realized service with both men and women present in an equatable way masturbation? 

 I was called out as being a bit hetero-normative and that's true so lest say an equal representation of gender needs to happen to fully realize our relationship as a community to the divine. 

 I read Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi a fair amount as he really had a voice that spoke to me. I think I'm getting it, and I can see what he was hoping for in a lot of his writing. We're at a moment in history where a new way of thinking about our relationships to everything could use a shift. He always called it the paradigm shift and that was the move from a mechanistic to an organismic way of viewing our world and the bits and bobs that make it up. We often lamented that workers were becoming cogs in a great machine. I don't think we appreciated how that was internalized and applied to other parts of life including the spiritual parts of it. To do this is to deny the complexity and richness of the systems of life on this planet and perhaps the entire universe rely on. 

  Zalman called on the microbiome of his own body to illustrate how much was happening under the surface and to make people realize that just as your cells are made up of levels of individual players so to was the body and the earth and the universe. I think of the biology in my digestive tract and wonder, am I content because they are content, or are they content because I'm content? Do they find a spiritual place along with me when I find connection as I daven or must they if I am to feel fulfilled as I pray? I'm not talking about cells in my body, but independent organisms that make up the fauna of my intestines. They are, and they are not me at the same time. This ability to comprehend a universe of interconnected and interdependent systems with varying levels of consciousness was what Zalman thought would help guide us into the next phase of human existence. He called this Gaian thinking and this recognition of a sort of consciousness and interconnections to everything was real and expressed across many faith traditions too. Inside Judaism he asked that we learn how to adapt the software without damaging the firmware of the system. He called for new ways of looking at the old. He asked for ideas, and cautioned that it must be approached with extreme caution.  He said faith traditions that were not were driving the car by only using the review mirror.  

 This morning I noticed that the shul I belong to was still clinging to the rear view mirror. I understand the past is comfortable. The big picture in front of you while you drive is the future, the little window within window is the past. Everybody drives with glances at the mirror. We need to look out the sides too, but we have to keep our eyes on the road ahead and keep asking ourselves is this where we set out to go? Is this where we want to go? Where do we want to go from here? Perhaps because object in the mirror look closer than they are we still hold to old thinking as well, assuming we have just left them behind. Are we driving the car or is the car driving us?  
  


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