Discover Meaningful Wisdom and Inspiration Among the Leaves

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 20 June 2017 @ 10:15 pm

“Appreciate yourself and honor your soul.”

My personal tagline — because doesn’t everyone have a personal tagline — is “finding meaning in the sacred and not-yet-sacred intersections of daily life.”

The idea of “not yet” is not mine. It belongs to Franz Rosenzweig, the 20th century German philosopher, who, when asked if he wore tefillin, responded, “not yet.”

When I first stepped off of the pulpit nearly six years ago, I felt that I no longer had daily access to the sacred. Instead of spending my time doing Holy Work in a synagogue and in the community, my hours were spent making certain that Ben’s needs were handled, taking care of our other two kids, cleaning toilets, marketing, and all of the myriad aspects of running a household. In other words, menial and/or difficult tasks that were devoid of meaning.

But that is because I was limited by my understanding kodesh and chol as sacred and profane. Or special and ordinary.

Instead, a radical shift was necessary. By applying Rosenzweig’s “not yet” approach, I began to view all activities as being either sacred or not-yet sacred. No matter the task, I started to seek out the holiness potential, allowing for every action to have a potential for sanctity and purpose.

No one can say that the act of cleaning toilets is in-and-of-itself a sacred act. However, cleaning toilets is a reminder of the gift of indoor plumbing, not accessible to all humans. And potable water. And a roof over our heads. It is a reminder of the seemingly mundane bodily functions that take place behind the bathroom’s (sometimes) closed door.

Suddenly, the physical drudgery is transformed into an opportunity to thank the Holy One.

Which brings me to tea bags. Specifically, Yogi tea bags. Every Yogi tea bag has a snippet of wisdom attached to it. I don’t know where they find the aphorisms, but I love them. Even when a specific statement doesn’t resonate with me, I love the idea that something as simple as brewing a cup of tea has holiness potential.

This post, then, is the beginning of a semi-regular series that I call #teabagwisdom. Because there is always a way to find meaning in the seemingly mundane.

A long preamble — sorry, occupational hazard. The following pieces in this collection will focus solely on the piece of wisdom.

“Appreciate yourself and honor your soul.”

Refracting daily activities through the Rosenzweig lens of “not-yet” has been one of the best ways to elevate my actions and my soul.

Try it for a week.
Regard every action, every event as either sacred or not-yet-sacred.
Maybe jot down your reactions in a journal.
Maybe reflect on your reactions as you prepare to sleep each evening.
Did it make a difference after a day? A week?

Leave me a quick note here in the comments. Let’s get this conversation started.

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Childhood Christmas Traditions

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 25 December 2016 @ 1:36 pm

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My family is Jewish. We don’t celebrate Christmas.

And yet, I had three Christmas traditions as a kid that remain my warmest memories of Christmas.

  1. Midnight Mass from St. Peter’s Basilica — I think that I probably started staying up to watch this so that I could spend extra time with my dad. Over the years, however, I came to love the ritual and annual message from the Holy See.
  2. Spending Christmas Day at my friend’s house — I loved being included as my friend’s family gathered around the tree and opened gifts. They always had a gift for me (Cherry Lifesavers) and there was lots of laughter and cookies and love.
  3. KBIG104’s Christmas Playlist — for 36 hours, the radio station would play Christmas music and the playlist was published ahead of time in the LA Times. I would actually set my alarm for the middle of the night to hear a favourite Christmas carol.

As a little Jewish girl, these activities helped me appreciate the beauty of this sacred holiday. Though I live far away from my childhood friend, not a single Christmas passes without me thinking of her and her parents, brother, and nana, and how they welcomed me into their home each year. Making visiting Christmas a lovely experience at a time of year that often feels exclusionary.

Sometimes…I long for those innocent moments.

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Guns and Rights and the Sit-In

June 23, 2016

So… I spent a goodly amount of time yesterday on social media, as the House Democrat #SitIn unfolded before my very eyes, and shared my thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. I found the words of Representative John Lewis (D-GA), a Civil Rights activist since his youth in Alabama, inspiring. Not simply because they resonated with […]

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Sacred Commitment: A Bedtime Story

June 17, 2016

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. And she had a tante who told her the most marvelous bedtime story. All the time. (It probably wasn’t all the time, but this is how the little girl remembers it and it’s her truth.) The bedtime story wasn’t of fairy princesses or fantastic adventures or […]

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Donuts and The Sweetness of Torah

June 13, 2016

We have just concluded the last of the three pilgrimage festivals. Shavu’ot, like Sukkot and Passover, is a commanded observance found in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Deuteronomy. There are a variety of beautiful customs for this early summer holy day, and it has long been one of my favourite holidays. One of […]

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