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“SACRED TEXTING,” INTIMATE RESPONSES

August 2017

By Rabbi Weber

 

Once in a while something special – something holy – happens when you’re least expecting it. When we began “Sacred Texting,” an alternative experience for Yom Kippur afternoon, we never imagined how powerful it would become.

Each year, with a guarantee of anonymity, we ask those present to share honest self-evaluation: Heshbon Nefesh in the words of our tradition. The results have humbled me, both because we succeed in creating a place where people feel safe to share their hopes and even their weaknesses, and because it helped me realize that we, together, are imperfect human beings striving to do better.

As we begin anew this season of Heshbon Nefesh, I invite you to read some of the answers to last year’s questions. Then I encourage you to be as honest with yourself about your answers as these people were with theirs.

 

QUESTION: If you could place ONE sin/transgression/weakness/shortcoming on the “scape-goat” to be carried away forever, what would it be?

 

Workaholism

Arrogance

Being a bad listener

Lack of patience at times

Self-doubt

Something I did in 1992-1993

Anxiety

Insecurities

Abuse of children

Engaging less than 100%

Lying

Doing things that hurt my friends without considering the consequences

Jealousy

Immobilizing insecurity

Envy

 

QUESTION: What keeps us from letting go of the sin/transgression/weakness/shortcoming (the one you want to give to the scape-goat)? Why does it keep coming back?

It’s satisfying in the short term

“Human nature”?

Don't appreciate what I / we have

Because I am afraid I can do it again and I don't want to

Unwillingness to let go

Trying to have it all

It's part of my identity

Not prioritizing myself

My own selfishness and lack of self-control or self-respect

Inability to focus and having too much on my plate

It's easier to keep the negative then to strive to work and work and work to keep the positives

I still don't have the strength to push it away

Taking on too many responsibilities at once

Desire for control

It is hard to break old habits

Afraid to / of the change

 

QUESTION: How could God help you to let go of the sin/transgression/weakness/shortcoming you are thinking about? (Please answer whether or not you believe God exists.)

Give me something to love, to have a passion for

Remind me in some way every day...

Give me strength to believe I can do it

I do not think God has the ability to provide me with more patience. I believe it can only come from within me

Gaining clarity and conviction on my true priorities

To help me find myself through Judaism and give me something to care about other than myself

Believing that I was given potential by something bigger than just me

Make me keep on trying and not to give up

By giving some sign that he/she is listening

Give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change…

By helping me see the positive aspects of my life instead of me constantly focusing on my shortcomings

By teaching me not to care so much about possessions, especially what others might classify as "junk"

Give me peace of mind

Perhaps by giving me a focus on something other than my fear of change

Make me more patient

This August and September we will introduce the newest prayerbook created by the Reform Movement: Mishkan HaLev, Prayers for Selichot and Elul. It follows the style of our new High Holiday prayerbook, combining traditional prayers with modern ones. But no prayerbook, traditional or modern, can possibly reflect the needs and desires of the heart of every person using it. Our ancestors recognized this, and created space in every service for silent, personal prayer. We take this idea even further by offering opportunities for you to weave your thoughts into the printed word.

Heshbon Nefesh, taking an account of our lives, is personal, painful and productive. Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” but we Jews knew that long before Socrates was born. I invite you to join us from the first Shabbat in Elul (August 25) through the end of Simchat Torah as our sacred community asks the difficult questions together and attempts to answer them – every man, woman and child – individually.

I wish you a sweet, healthy and peaceful New Year. A better year.

                                                                                               

                                               

                                                                                                Rabbi Don Weber

 

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