Am I the only one that notices that our society has such a short attention span that we seem to prefer our information conveyed in small pieces also known as sound bites? Have you ever noticed how rapidly your attention span declines just from a short wait for a dish in the microwave? I kid you not, most Americans are like this! We just don't have time for most things or refuse to make time anyway for the things that enrich our lives and make us better people. Have you noticed yourself doing this in the realm of the spiritual? Spending small snippets of time learning more about what your faith teaches you and walking away only partially satisfied? I have, and this is the challenge for the new year – to grow more as a practicing Jew so that I can be what God has meant for me to be as a part of the Jewish people. Since faith is personal and so is your relationship with God as you understand him, I challenge you to get to know more about your beliefs in relation to yourself for the new year that is rapidly approaching.
I like to joke that Jews have two chances at getting a head start on new year's resolutions; the Jewish new year of Rosh Hashanah and the secular new year. So I guess this time around I will have to start the secular new year with my goal of learning more about Judaism. And there is so much to learn about Judaism that it's difficult to pick a place to begin. I think one thing that stands out right now is the meaning of the word courage. It has taken courage for those who came before me to be Jewish; consider the destruction of both temples, the Crusades, Pogroms, Holocaust, blood libels and superstitions that have preceded the Jewish people for 5,000 years! Herein lies the beauty of the existence of Judaism; not the persecution, but the marvel of the people determined to remain in their covenant with God in the face of so much opposition.
It's from this extreme courage in the face of all opposition that I draw inspiration each and every day. This encourages me to continue to discover more about God and my relationship with Him. We talk about relationships a lot don't we? In various facets of our lives we talk about being close to another. Well you see, Jews draw close to the God of Israel.
I read one time about two Jews who survived the Holocaust. The two of them were conversing about the existence of God. One asked the other, "How can you believe in God after the atrocities of the Holocaust?"
The other replied, "How can you not believe in God after the atrocities of the Holocaust?"
Meaning... the Jews were still around, dismayed, belittled, whittled down in numbers by a mad man at the time of their conversation. But still around!
Joshua chapter one reminds us to be strong and courageous. In conclusion, I'd like to say that no matter who you are, be strong in who you are and learn more about your faith and that of others for the new year! Remove the sound bite mentality from your arsenal and see how much depth your spirituality will reveal to you as you study and grow!