I am enough.
I am worthy.
I am complete.

I am everything.

I am compassion.
I am free.
I am…

I am of value to Rachel Imeinu
finally came up
as the shul grounds I entered.

Yes.
That’s it.
I am happy that I have it now.

I am a seed of Israel
Returned;
Reverted
from Catholicism

and everywhere else I have been,

for during the week
I watched a video
on Japanese Shinto practice –

watched a woman
who heals trees;
her tree gods
making her work deeply meaningful

drawn in
I was
by the aesthetics of the presentation
and the serenity of her face.

Yet I am a seed of Israel
and this worship of nature
is out of bounds to me.

Not that I think of trees as gods
or as the divine per se,
just sparks of divinity.

Her love of trees
resonates deeply with me…

However, I have learnt over the last few weeks
that the way I approach
all creation
has shifted:

First acknowledge the Creator
with gratitude for the created
then delight in the beauty
you see.

The Creator
is known to every culture
which is in touch with nature.

In nature the Divine
is observable
to those with eyes to see;

those who with awe open their eyes
their hearts
their beings
to earth, water, fire, air

nothing
nothing
no-thing

in a creative dance with the One Source…

The G-d of Israel
as revealed in nature –
the Creator
is known as Elohim.

Yet the G-d of Israel
is simultaneously
beyond nature

unknowable
unappeasable
inexplicable

hidden
except in Torah
written and oral –

in formal prayer called Adonai
in ordinary speech HaShem

The Name revealed
through the Torah
given through Moses:

Y-H-V-H
out of respect
called Adonai-Elohim

The G-d of Israel
is One

to the extent that we can know It
is by Him revealed
in nature
and in Torah.

Yet Adonai-Elohim is not G-d’s name.

Its name as revealed to Moses is:
Ehyeh asher ehyeh

Which as Rabbi Sacks
reminded me as Future Tense I was re-reading,
that this means
“I will be what I will be.”

Not,
“I am who I am.”
“I am what I am.”
“I am – that who I am.”

Ehyeh asher ehyeh
is in the future tense

whilst translations
are based on Greek philosophy
and are therefore in the present tense.

This makes all the difference
in orientation.

Judaism does not know Greek tragedy.
Instead, Judaism lives in hope of a better future.

Making
I am love
I am…

I am of value to Rachel Imeinu
a potential tragedy?

Unless I remember
that it’s a process
requiring my effort
to move potential into manifestation?

One little step at a time?

Is this then Judaism’s
value-add

to Truth knowing?
to Truth constantly seeking?
to Truth, my truth, daily offering?

I have come to Hashem
through a route circuitous –
through a route paved by ancestors.

A delicate balance
between reverent fear
and love of Hashem

A fine balance
between joyous awe
and trust in His overall plan…

I wanted to get out,
get away from Jo’burg,
spend time by the sea
with beloved ones

and since Christmas Day
coincides with Shabbat
on which ‘Shemot’
is read
it would have been perfect
for imitating Joseph;

A text about Joseph
sold into Egyptian exile
who, nonetheless,
keeps the laws his father taught him…

Not for him
the coziness of eleven brothers
living with their father;

far away they are from Egypt –
living in
their distinctive way

counter-cultural in their practices
counter-cultural in their concepts transformative
of sensed reality.

Joseph the tzaddik,
Joseph the righteous,
Joseph the viceroy of Egypt during a famine

Remembered and observed
his father’s ethics –

making Judaism a religion of Torah ethics
revealed only to the children Abraham
through Isaac
and Jacob?

This is what our sages say…

This last weekend was intense
for on Shabbat ‘Vayigash’
various strands of Jewish living
came together,

almost knocked me off my feet.

Psalms 1-30 I read
in Hebrew
to the best of my ability –

slowly
haltingly
so that it took hours.

Sometimes I pray
intending a particular outcome
only to find that it changes
as progress I make.

This was the first time
it happened on a Shabbat;
I was taken by surprise
for Shabbat is

a day of rest
a day for praise
a day for thankful being

a day for remembering that the Creator
created over six days
and on the seventh He rested…

Yet this Shabbat was different
for it felt as though
Israel was under pressure

Or rather,
I felt under pressure
to commit
to Israel
unconditionally…

To the people
I had committed already
for from the Lubavitcher Rebbe I had learnt
that the way to harmony amongst Jewish people
comes from Jewish people
loving all other Jewish people.

Another way of saying this
is that peace and harmony
begins in one’s own home

and extends outwards –
eventually encompassing
the whole wide world…

To the land of Israel
committing
had led to procrastination –

for talk of the Third Temple
found no resonance in me;
I am Zera Israel
only a seed of Jacob

and the land now belongs
to those whose forebears
were faithful witnesses
to the Oneness of the G-d of Jacob/Israel –

not to people like me.

I had allowed this thought
to seep into me
in order to transform the sadness
into gratefulness.

After all,
I have returned to Shabbat
remembering and observing;
I have returned to kosher keeping –

according to my understanding
and to the best of my ability –

I have embraced morning
and evening prayer
reciting

as per R’ Ovadia’s
recommendations for women
in the Artscroll Sephardic Siddur.

That I have done it nun-nishly,
that I have done it like a semi-cloistered Catholic
I hope to change some day…

I remembered
my five to eight-year-old self
walking past the red brick synagogue
in Germiston

knowing that I’d never be allowed in again…

Yet here I am
amongst warm Ashkenazim
amongst welcoming Ashkenazim
amongst a people who love their Judaism

amongst a people
who have enriched
Reverting to Judaism

with kindness
with instructions on how to do things

gently
authentically
in conversations demonstrating loving-kindness…

Grateful I remain
to Beit Emanuel Progressive Synagogue
where I first learnt Hebrew –

and the tunes for their prayers
remain what I rely on…

Yet yesterday shook me
as Jesus’s crown of thorns
from my own head I removed;

This is not cool
for Jesus I am not…
For a moment
I thought I’d gone coo-coo

Until,
thankfully,
I remembered
it came from fantasy meditation

where one is asked to imagine oneself
in a New Testament scene
and to enter it
as an observer-participant.

I have no recollection
of a crucifixion meditation;
I remember parables –
the parable of the sower in particular:

What seed were you?
And where did you fall?

I do remember
the Imitation of Christ
which I read in a distant past;

I remember too
being told
that Jesus died for me
for my sins

and those of the whole wide world…

These texts
These images
These cellular memories
I asked to be released from…

Jesus
the Jewish scapegoat
created by Christianity
is not for me.

Thank goodness
I could unpack it with a rabbi
who helped me interpret
this experience

as putting ritual-sacrifice-of-the-self aside
in favour of caring for the earth
which is the universalist Jewish ethic.

It helped enormously
to know that the three monotheistic religions
that arose from Abraham’s seed
are intimately connected;

the sons of Ismael
remember that G-d exists as Mercy
and is to be unconditionally trusted
regardless of what happens in 3-D reality –

Does this mean
that Islam’s contribution to humanity
is to make Him known
and trustingly submit
to what is?

The sons of Esau,
of whom Jesus was one,
crowned humanity as the highest created being –
put people at the top of the earth hierarchy

spread the human rights concept
to individuals and nations
across the planet…

Does this mean
that Christianity’s contribution to humanity
is unconditional love of neighbour –

learning selflessness,
in order to foster the dignity of all human beings,
regardless of differences?

That this dominant western ethic,
although subverted into

lies,
licentiousness commercialized,
liberalism without justice,

ultimately did not work for me

for all boundaries collapsed within me;
I lost my way

it must have been
because I am Zera Israel
a Seed of Israel

and while Judaism trusts G-d
and enjoins love of neighbour
and stranger
and orphan
and widow

its starting point is care of the earth:

Take care of my world
which I have created
and found to be good

and entrusted to you
to take care of it
with me;

called you sons of Jacob/Israel
called you daughters of Rachel
to be earth stewards
primarily…

(©Archaela 5782 Tevet 10, 11, 12)

Sources and Resources

Rabbi Dr David Nossel (Life Medicine Practitioner):

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Jonathan Sacks: Future Tense: A Vision for Jews and Judaism in the Global Culture.

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