Saturday, January 21, 2017

Becomings (Portion Vaera)

At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Vaera, God tells Moses, “I appeared to your ancestors. . . but I did not make myself known to them by my name, YHVH. “  As Rabbi David Cooper notes, this sacred (and unpronounceable) name is, in fact, a verb, implying “being”—or, better yet, “becoming.”  Moses is the first to experience God as God truly exists—not as a noun, but a verb, an eternally unfolding process.

This wisdom has radical—and beautiful—implications for humanity.  For if, as Torah teaches, we are created in the divine image, then we, too, are verbs.  Perhaps this is at the root of the term “human being.”  As Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen notes, “Each of us is unfinished, a work in progress. Perhaps it would be most accurate to add the word ‘yet’ to all our assessments of ourselves and each other . . . If life is process, all judgments are provisional, we can't judge something until it is finished. No one has won or lost until the race is over . . .”

I love this notion that we, like God, are always becoming.  Life never stops offering up obstacles, challenges, and opportunities to grow.  As my favorite musician, and recent Nobel Laureate, Bob Dylan notes: “He not busy being born is busy dying.” 

This is my last e-Torah before I start my sabbatical.  From February 1 through August 1, I will be away: traveling, reading, renewing family ties, exploring my roots, and re-tooling for the future.  During this time, at home and away, I hope to learn new skills, discover new strengths, seek new wisdom, and push myself to grow as a rabbi and as a person.  My goal is to return to you reinvigorated and re-inspired as I enter the final years of this congregational-rabbinic journey that we share together.

I know that during my time away, you, too, will grow.  New leaders will step up in my absence, and experienced leaders will find new callings.  The congregation is in good hands—all of your hands—during this season.   CABI will flourish in the months ahead.

I am deeply grateful to the CABI board and staff, and the entire leadership team that has made it possible for me to enjoy this extraordinary opportunity, and I look forward to sharing many new stories together come August.  Meanwhile, you can follow my travels on my blog at:

May our journeys—our becomings—individual and collective, bring blessing to us all. 

Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek—Let us be strong and let us strengthen one another.

Rabbi Dan

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