In the late 18th, early 19th century, there was a Chasidic rabbi, known as Reb Nachman. He founded a Chasidic dynasty in the area around the city of Breslov. All these years later, he is still much beloved, not only among his chasidim (disciples), but by Jews all over the world. Our kids (and some adults) know his teaching found in the song, Gesher Tzar M’od. It tells us that the world is like a very narrow bridge. The important thing is not to be afraid. He is also the author of a prayer about nature. While he prayed with his community, he was also known to seek solace in the outdoors daily.
This was his prayer:
Grant me the ability to be alone; may it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass - among all growing things and there may I be alone, and enter into prayer, to talk with the One to whom I belong. May I express there everything in my heart, and may all the foliage of the field -all grasses, trees, and plants -awake at my coming, to send the powers of their life into the words of my prayer so that my prayer and speech are made whole through the life and spirit of all growing things, which are made as one by their transcendent Source. May I then pour out the words of my heart before your Presence like water, O Lord, and lift up my hands to You in worship, on my behalf, and that of my children!
Many people tell me that they feel most spiritual in nature, and, as you can see, this has always been a part of our tradition.
So come join us on October 21st for our Shabbat morning at Hawk Mountain. It’s a little bit of a drive, but it will be infinitely worthwhile as we see the migratory birds at the height of their migration season and reflect together on who we are, who God is, and where we fit in the broader scheme of nature. See your Temple bulletins for details. Feel free to invite friends to join with us.
And then there’s the following weekend, a delightful weekend with scholar in residence, Max Edwards. (I’m grateful to Terri and Roy Small for bringing Max to us.) Max is an expert in the mamaloshen, Yiddish, the mother tongue, for many of us, even if we can no longer speak more than the words that would have been heard on any Seinfeld episode. For some, Yiddish is a quaint part of our past, the language we heard our parents speak to each other or with their parents when they didn’t want us to know what was being said. (Max’ parents tell me that it was the language their parents spoke so that they wouldn’t understand, and now it’s the language their son speaks with his friends when they don’t want to be understood. Talk about the “sandwich” generation!)
But Yiddish isn’t just a language, it’s a culture. Among other topics, Max will explore the t’chines with us. These are personal prayers, mostly by and for women, as they never learned Hebrew and therefore weren’t bound by the strict rules of worship, but still, or perhaps even more so, felt the need to pour forth their hearts and souls to God. I hope others from around the community will join us as our guests. There is no charge for any events of the weekend.
The year 5778 is young, but there’s so much happening here. Please join us to enrich our sense of community and hopefully, to enrich your sense of spirituality, history, and belonging.
Shabbat Shalom u’m’vorach. Have a Shabbat of peace and of blessing.
Jack P. Paskoff,