Davar Acher: Finding God in a Quiet, Sacred Space

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 20 July 2017 @ 12:20 pm

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In reading Rabbi Harris’ wise interpretation on this week’s parashah, I was particularly taken by the quote by Nehama Leibowitz regarding the request by the Gadites and Reubenites to settle outside the land as a “dilemma between the choice of a career — personal advancement — or the fulfillment of a mission.” Like many parents of a child with a disability, I have travelled to the intersection between personal advancement through career and a mission for the advancement of my child and rerouted my journey towards mission. While these are not mutually exclusive, listening to God’s voice in the quiet directed me to the choice that was sacred and right for our family.

Parenthood demands a certain level of selflessness. After all, one must put the needs of one’s child above one’s own needs on a continual basis. While most of those decisions are rather pedestrian in nature, there are those that are life-altering and can cause great agonizing.

Rabbi Harris directs us to “mind the gap” before making a potentially-upsetting change. She refers to Moses’ silence as quiet space. I would add “sacred” to that description. It recalls the passage in I Kings 19:12, where the prophet Elijah reminds us that God is found not in the loud sounds, but in the still, soft voice. In other words, God is in that quiet, sacred space. The place where we make those difficult decisions between what we want for ourselves and what others need of us.

In verse 13, God asks Elijah, Mah-l’cha fo, “Why are you here?” Surely, God knows what brought his prophet to him. The question, therefore, is meant to force Elijah to confront himself. To acknowledge and own his questions and his concerns and his fears.

When we draw into ourselves into that quiet, sacred space, God inquires of us as he did of Elijah. Why are you here? What dilemma is so troubling that you bring yourself — your most vulnerable self — into my comforting, supportive Presence? Stay here with Me until you are prepared to reroute yourself and know that I will never leave you.

[This post originally appeared on the blog of ReformJudaism.org. To receive Ten Minutes of Torah emails, including the Monday edition, Reform Voices of Torah, you can sign up here.]

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