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Teaching & Guided Meditation for Sacred Hebrew Chant & Drum Service, Shabbat Mishpatim 5771

March 6, 2011

This is the teaching and guided meditation that I offered in January at Congregation Beth Israel Judea’s Sacred Hebrew Chant & Drum Service for Shabbat Mishpatim, 24 Sh’vat 5771.

Here are some thoughts on uncertainty from the book Yearnings by Irwin Kula:

“The mystical text the Zohar tells us that G*d says to every human being every day “go forth,” begin the journey that is yours to make.

“What makes us enlightened is that we are not afraid to wander. Doubt is a prerequisite for any meaningful journey. When we can acknowledge the built-in anxiety rather than maintaining the illusion of certainty, we become humble — which in turn creates a new and more authentic confidence.

“What if we understood that all decisions, even the seeming sure things, are leaps into the unknown? What if we were galvanized, rather than paralyzed, by uncertainty?

“It could be that our very denial about how unsure we really are in fact causes the most anxiety of all. We mistake ambivalence for weakness, indecisiveness for failing. We try to convince ourselves that the future should be ours to see and that there’s actually a discernable and consistent cause and effect to our decisions and actions.

“Yet if we’re really honest with ourselves when we look back on our lives, we can see that all our decisions, large and small, were made from a place of uncertainty and sometimes profound conflict. Rarely have any of us had any idea where our decisions would lead, and other times what we thought would happen turned out quite differently than planned.

“Our journey presents us with catastrophes, traumas, losses, gains, wonders, and miracles. And in the end we must act on faith, not that it will all work out as we want but that our best guess is good enough, that it will somehow lead us to a place of discovery, of new perspective, of a wider self.” (1)

Let’s take a moment to reflect on uncertainty. We’re still close to the new year and our resolutions haven’t grown much dust. Close your eyes and pick just of one of them. One goal …

This goal, this dream, this hope, this resolve, must have some path associated with it. Along with our resolution, we imagined the way that that we would accomplish this resolution. Tonight, my friends, let’s make a distinction, between our goal and its path.

Instead, let’s open our hearts to a different journey: to one of discovery … to one with roadblocks … to one with joy … to disappointments along the way … to insights that come to us … to the boredom of taking step after another … to revelation … to rejection … to surprises … to the same old thing.

My goal, my dream, my hope, my resolve, I will approach it one breath at a time, … one step at a time,… one hour, one day, one year at a time. I will follow my path … and with G*d’s great compassion, I will arrive safely.

We pray:

A Prayer for Embracing Life’s Mystery(2)

I want to know You, G*d. I want to see the world through Your eyes. To feel intimately involved in all of creation. I want to know why things happen the way they do.

Help me, G*d, to accept what I cannot understand, to accept life without constantly trying to control it. Teach me how to bend with life, how to repair what I can repair, how to live with my questions, how to rejoice in Your wonders.

When I am faced with events that baffle and astound me, help me to transform my frustration into humility and awe. Teach me to embrace the mystery, G*d. Remind me to enjoy the ride.

Thank You, G*d, for this spectacular life. Amen.


If you’re interested in Sacred Hebrew Chant and Drum services, here’s a post on Rabbi Rosalind Glazer’s blog about the services.


1) Excerpts from Yearning: Embracing the Sacred Messiness of Life; Kula, Irwin & Loewenthal; Hyperion Press, 2006. Pgs. 88-91.

2) Talking to G*d: Personal prayers for times of joy, sadness, struggle and celebration; Levy, Naomi; Doubleday, 2002. Pg. 249.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Tuviah permalink
    December 8, 2011 7:11 PM

    For someone like myself who is a “G-D” wrestler — someone who is filled with faith and running empty in the area of trust — this was truly inspiring. I’m happy that there is a positive aspect to my doubts that I am safe. I still wish I was a “happy idiot” with a blissful smile on my face and complete trust — but so be it!

    • December 8, 2011 8:45 PM

      Tuviah: Thanks for the kind words. Each of us is different with our own struggles. Maimonides said, “There is no such thing as two persons exactly alike – nor two thoughts.” Good luck with your wrestling.

      If you’re in San Francisco on the fourth Friday of the month, please come by Beth Israel Judea for our Sacred Hebrew Chant and Drum service. All are welcome.

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