Monday, July 29, 2013

Honesty & Davening - Don't Fade Away

Perhaps you have seen the recent post by Rabbi Efrem Goldberg on about the "The Most Important Discussions". In his reply a recent online controversy dealing with Biblical criticism in the Orthodox world, Goldberg asks tough meta-questions:
Who sets the agenda of the Jewish community? How should we dedicate our resources, energies, talents, time, and focus? How do we prioritize our collective to-do list? It seems to me that our agenda is being set for us by the media, zealots, and what topics attract the most attention on social media. If we are going to make a dent in fixing the problems in the orthodox Jewish community, we cannot simply have a reactive agenda, but we must articulate a proactive one that includes areas that may not seem urgent, but yet are critically important.
He rattles off a list of important alternate conversations that should be had in our faculty lounges, Shabbat tables, and community meetings.  But what I found interesting is the following comment:
But let’s be honest. How many Jews do you know who stopped keeping Shabbos, began eating non-kosher, or entered a relationship with a non-Jewish woman because they couldn't reconcile the authorship of Exodus and Deuteronomy? It seems to me many more are walking away because of the issues that we are not discussing broadly. 
I was listening to the Grateful Dead classic "Not Fade Away" and this point really struck me to the core.

Written by Buddy Holly, here is a selection of the not so complex lyrics:
I wanna tell you how it's gonna be
You're gonna give your love to me
Love that lasts more than one day
Well love is love and not fade away
Well love is love and not fade away
Permit me this leap.  The concept of the song is that the love and energy should not fade away. What afterall is the option for love?  Either a person could continue to love strong or to choose to stop loving; for most people I think there is a third option and common reality - that feeling fades away (cue another great song, The Thrill is Gone). Our job as educators, parents, teachers and individuals is to inspire our students and children to keep the spark alive and on fire - to make the world a better place and sanctify the Creator's name.  My fear is that the love fades when students leave school and educational frameworks.  Rabbi Goldberg's push to abandon a reactive agenda and focus energies on what is critically important is a call to action.  I humbly argue that the 'Not Fade Away' notion is the agency of davening - to be screaming like Mikey Hart and Jerry Garcia - that we won't silently disappear, but with joy and song show our deivkut, clingingness to the cause of Judaism.  It is wonderful to see more rabbis and leaders standing up to confront the hard issues we face.

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