Rachael's Centre for Torah, Mussar and Ethics is a not-for-profit pluralistic website dedicated to online Jewish learning
Sign In
Welcome to our new site. Click here to learn more about Rachael's Centre

Posts Tagged ‘God’

Recognizing the Power of Nature

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Jewish environmentalism is not just about preserving the planet and recycling.  It is also essentially about appreciating nature and that God is the Source of all.

 

There is a beautiful Chassidic  story that I think nuances a subtle way in which we neglect to recognize the power and beauty of nature.  Please enjoy:

 

The child of a certain rabbi used to wander in the woods. At first his father let him wander, but over time he became concerned. The woods were dangerous. The father did not know what lurked there.

 

He decided to discuss the matter with his child. One day he took him aside and said, “You know, I have noticed that each day you walk into the woods. I wonder, why you go there?” The boy said to is father, “ I go there to find God.”

 

“ That is a very good thing,” the father replied gently. “ I am glad you are searching for God. But, my child, don’t you know that God is the same everywhere?”

 

“Yes,” the boy answered, “but I’m not.”

Where is God in the Purim Story?

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

This is the question that is brought up in synagogues all over the world. The Story of Esther is a Book of the Jewish Bible that has no mention of God. Was this omission on purpose, or just a divine oversight? http://www.rachaelscentre.org

 

And I Thought Moving Would be So Easy…

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

We recently moved our head office to the other side of the city.  As with any move, you never imagined you had accumulated so much stuff in so many corners of places you forgot existed in your office.  I actually found myself feeling depressed at the amount of work needed to unpack a few boxes.  I was determined not to unpack useless papers back into so many corners of places I didn’t realize existed in my new office.  So I feel obligated to go through every box, every folder, every page…(I feel like an insane person desperately seeking light and reason - order amidst the chaos).  Is it really as bad as I’m describing? - Yes it is.

Okay, maybe not really that bad but I can’t help but sit in absolute awe of God who could organize a universe of chaos into something that resembled order.  We spend so much time complaining about the world as it is and how God could allow natural disasters and other kinds of seeming injustices but (and now I’m going to get a bit corny), how often do we stop and realize we can’t even unpack an office without blood, sweat and tears, let alone organize a universe.

And the sad part of it all is that the Sages teach us that chaos is a thin green line surrounding the world, waiting to come back in.   In other words, imposing order onto my office is a zero sum game - I’ll never win…oh good, another box is staring at me.  I think I’ll cover it with a pretty scarf and put a vase on it.  Nothing said I can’t redefine my chaos … and when the sun sets tonight, as it did yesterday and will tomorrow and will continue to set in its ordered way, I will be watching it and marvelling at what I’ve taken for granted.  Oh look - I found the paperclips.

Watch a YouTube I put together about this topic.

Looking Forward To Shavuot

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

Posted by Rachael:

 

Shavuot is just a few hours away and I’m really looking forward to it. I’m not exactly looking forward to the spirituality of it or the meaningfulness of the Jewish people accepting the Torah (though we know how beautiful and meaningful that part is) but at this moment in time, I’m really looking forward to spending good time with family and friends. It’s been a tough few weeks in my house. The kids at school have just gone through the ‘crunch’ time with their classes - 1500 things assigned and all due today by 2 pm. It’s been weeks of anxiety, sweat, all nighters and meltdowns. On more than one occasion I laid down on the couch with one or another of my children lying in my arms crying…as I said, I’m really looking forward to Shavuot.

 

Aside from the rest and recovery, there’s a game I’m planning to play with the family that should allow for some good Jewish speculation as well as some wholesome venting. It’s called: ‘Why do you think God -’ and you play it by having to finish that sentence. There are no limits applied to the context or idea used to finish the sentence and everyone around is welcome to offer an explanation to your question.

 

But even playing this game, a small part of me wonders if in the wee wee hours of the night on Shavuot, I won’t wondering if God is sitting in the Divine Realms with the angels all around playing the game: ‘Why do you think people -’

 

Have a great Shavuot!

Why Does God Allow Natural Disasters?

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

It is easy to notice that the Earth’s weather has become more extreme with an increasing number of natural disasters over the past few years. From Katrina a few years ago, to the forest fires all over North America year after year, to the devastating tornadoes recently in the Midwest United States. Each time disaster strikes we ask “where is God?” and we often get two very different answers. Rachael explains.

“Dear God…” - On the Breath of Children - June 2010

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

There are wonderful collections of children’s prayers written to God which give us lovely moments.  I’m always fascinated by the fact that children will begin their prayers with “Dear God” and end with “Yours truly” or “Sincerely” followed by their name.  As a teacher I always wonder if we really have a handle on the ‘all-knowing’ thing.

One of these prayer notes that I’ve seen struck me as particularly powerful.  It began “Dear God” and continued by thanking God for the new baby brother his parents brought home.  The final line of the letter reminded God that what he really asked for was a puppy.

We should never underestimate the value of an honest prayer.

Feeling Like a Bigger Piece of The Puzzle

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

A key moment in our prayer service is the Shema. It is our personal and community declaration that we have one God and that our God is One. My synagogue community is small with only a couple dozen people attending Shabbat services on a weekly basis, and maybe 200 people when there’s a Bar or Bat Mitzvah happening. In small congregations like mine and small Jewish communities spread all over North America it can sometimes be hard to feel a greater spiritual connection to Judaism.

Shabbat Morning service with 3500 fellow congregants in Toronto

This past weekend I spent Shabbat at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial Convention in downtown Toronto.

Kabbalat Shabbat services was attended by over 3500 Jews from all across North America. Talk about a lot of Jews in one room. The most amazing feeling was being able to join in prayer with over 3000 people, and standing all together as we recited the Shema, “Hear O Israel, Adonai is our God, Adonai is one!” It was such a wonderful experience surrounded by so many people joined together by prayer.