My inbox is flooded with all sorts of things — I am sure all of you have the same challenge.
Some we read more carefully and some we discard without even looking. Jewish life has many opportunities to remind to slow down and reflect — the month of Elul, the High Holiday season and especially Shabbat. Don’t be in such a hurry — there is wisdom in everything if we take the time to look.
As a camp director and Jewish educator, my inbox is filled with lots of great thoughts and ideas on children, families and Judaism. I try to take all of those thoughts, mix them around and share them in many places — especially this column. When you read this, we will be on to even more holidays but this Tashlich metaphor from a mother’s recounting of her 7-year-old’s story on what this ritual of throwing our sins into the water is something we must remember throughout the year. The story came from the NewCAJE Jewish Educator Listserv, a compendium of wonderful ideas that educators share with one another.
Tashlich practice comes from the verse in Micah 7:18-19 – “…You, God, cast all of our errors into the sea…” So the question comes to us as to why Micah says that God is casting the errors when it is our own hand doing the casting? Hands are the metaphor and this is the explanation from a 7-year-old:
“For thousands of years the Jewish people killed and cooked “aminals” because they read that God loves the smell of barbecue and would stop war, disease and bad storms and earthquakes out of gratitude. From this we learn that God does not have…(he paused dramatically) a nose!”
“After that we decided that God loves words and so the prayer book became longer and longer in hopes our prayers would be heard and the wars, diseases, bad storms and earthquakes would come to an end in gratitude to our praise and requests. From this we learn that God does not have…(pause)…ears!”
The boy concluded by taking the hands of the people sitting on either side of him and saying: “My Mommy’s generation has a new theory and that is that God has hands. And these (he lifted their hands up), are the hands of God.”
This young boy is telling us that our hands symbolize the “hands of God” as we throw our sins into the water but then we must use those hands to care for our world. “In every action,” said the Berditschever, “a person must regard his body as the Holy of Holies, a part of the supreme power on earth which is part of the manifestation of the Deity . . . Whenever a person lifts his hands to do a deed, let him consider his hands the messengers of God.” Let us remember this as we go forward this year. When the holidays are over and we settle back into our routine, we still must care for the world.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady,
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.