Being Alive and the message of Rosh HaShanah

    September 2009            
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Rosh Hashanah 5770: The Art of Being

By Tad Campbell © 2009

To identify ourselves as a newborn people this Rosh Hashanah, and be given the chance to grow once again, to renew all we are, means to stand as Moshe did before the burning bush. Naked and alive. And whether hopeful or afraid, poor or wealthy, embrace our true sense of being.

Moses argues, even insists on all the reasons why G-d should not call Moses to service. His stutter, former past, blinding fear. And G-d listens patiently, never pushing, rather calling. And Moses, just as the burning bush, is never consumed or harmed by the flame from On High, rather tenderly moved. Asked to give as only he could. And thus, Moses offers himself in being for his people the fire of freedom.

Upon our birth we are hailed for who we are, seen as complete, both fulfilled in the potential of all we shall ever be, and fulfilling in the dreams of those who gave us life. Later, we are questioned for what we do.

Is this the "me" of being? Is that what we have come to define as being created in G-d's image? Our jobs, bank accounts, or, are authentic selves? Those moments and miracles that once again honor all we are born to be.

If we accept our limitations, then most certainly they are ours. Instead of seeing life as a chore, a burden, something to get through, what if instead we embraced it as the pursuit of the authentic self? No longer taking each breath as if it may be our last, rather, as if it were our very first. When we inhale life with joy, we share an awakening of our fullest potential. Being individuals called by name. Genuine to the Voice from on High. Our authentic selves.

I'm not an athlete, rather a striving one. Running the best I can. It isn't completing the race that first matters, simply that I laced my sneakers and took to the road. Each pace, in a very real way, is my crossing the finish line.

Our self-identifying can be self-loathing. To define ourselves by what we do during our working hours, is to place parameters around all we can achieve in our playful moments. Those when we pause to notice the autumn leafs, or sing a familiar tune. And those where we give up expectation, and see what rests before us now.

Being is an art, and each of us is a canvas upon which the hand of G-d mixes the gentle touch of a Chagall with the wild strokes of a Pollack. Tender shapes and imaginative patterns live together in the gallery of our souls. This is who we are, all we are asked to be. In holiness. In the burning desires of our hearts.

Today, we are given a miracle, a wondrous touch of the Creator's brush. Yes, a new year, the chance to celebrate the textures and colors of our joined Jewish faith. Also, to take a breath. To open up our hearts, right now.

Life can be compared to a surprise party. One we know nothing about. No hidden clues are given, no secret spoiled. And in that single moment, we step into a room, completely overwhelmed by the kindness of those we know. And if we allow ourselves to briefly pause, filled with childlike laughter and heartfelt song, we completely see ourselves as whole. Unique. Once again hailed as at our birth, exactly, perfectly, in this moment of being.

Tad Campbell recently made aliyah and lives and writes in Tel Aviv.


from the September High Holiday Edition 2009 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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