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I am committed to a life provoking the invasion of The Coming Kingdom through: human service, ecstatic prayer, halakhic observation, community building, nurturing hope, and drawing down abiding faith...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Living life by the Jewish Calendar

We live in a world of deadlines. Our everyday calendars tell us when bills are due, when meetings are scheduled, how much (or little) vacation we will have. We have national holidays (often associated with their own deadlines of expected behavior)...

Then there are birthdays and anniversary's. These are times when we celebrate events of our lives. In the midst of cycles of work, finance, and social norms there are moments when we stop to acknowledge events. This “mode of being” is the key point of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s discussion of the Sabbath. For Heschel, the Sabbath reminds the Jewish people (as well as all of humanity) of the value of events, moments in time. Heschel goes on to illustrate that Judaism is a religion of time. Time is the setting of Israel’s relationship with God, and the feature of human existence that Israel is meant to elevate. This is in keeping with much of hasidic practice which sees the Jewish year as a journey of the growth and refinement of the Jewish person. The key is to tap into this cycle. The holidays and unique mitzvot within each month send signals as to the energy of the month. Each month is an opportunity to be carried into deeper relationship with God. In many hasidic circles, this is the work of hastening messianic redemption, to whatever extent we are able.
As Messianic Jews in America, we do not normally live by the Jewish calendar. Some of us may check and glance at the beginning of the Gregorian month to figure out what holidays are coming up, but we do not really live by the Jewish calendar. We expect our synagogue leadership to know for us. We expect the spiritual and communal depth of the holidays to come to us, or we don’t expect anything at all. The holidays come to us by surprise, and the average Messianic Jew (or any Jew for that matter) would tell you that Hanukkah is in December at some point, as opposed to the 25th of Kislev.
What would happen if we were a community who even attempted to know the number of days between today and the next chag as much as we know the due date for our taxes?
What would happen if we attempted to find the life of Yeshua embedded in the cycle of life of our people?
What might happen if we lived lives that allowed the holiness of time infuse our lives with meaning?
What if we awaited our holidays with anxious excitement like a child knowing his/her birthday is only a few days away?

I have the privelege of teaching a monthly series on this topic for my Synagogue. I began in the month of Nissan, and at the completion of our year I will be publishing a small handout as a resource. After this is completed, I will post on the blog what I have written for each month. In the meantime, I will be picking up on the same theme here on the blog. It is my hope that the discussions here will compliment the class at my Synagogue and serve to make the publication better than it would've been otherwise (and serve as a continued resource for discussion here).

There is another, and more important purpose...

I hope this will be an encouragement and challenge to all of us who are members of Am Yisrael "according to the flesh" to take at least a few steps (if not many leaps) forward in our connection to the calendar of our souls. I hope to offer suggestions and share ideas that can serve as tools to connect more deeply to the Jewish months and holydays. I pray that, with God’s help, this conversation can inspire our souls to draw nearer to our Lord. May we all find ourselves changed and more deeply connected as we journey together through the year.

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