Shabbat Shalom with a Heart Healthy Dose of Torah – Emor

God was not in thunderous winds. God is not in the earthquake. God was not in the destructive fire. Where is God? God is in the Kol Demama; the Still Small Voice. Our nation is aching right now. The pandemic and all of the ill attached to it, the economic, educational, and spiritual poverty that continues knocking at our doors, the violence in the world – these are the current plagues threatening our society. The Far-eastern traditions all teach that the dignity of all breath is holy. The holy book of Islam, the Quran teaches that God made each of us unique, that we might learn from and with each other every time we engage. The Jewish and Christian Bible speaks of the tower of Babel. People demonstrated such a love for God, wanting to have a close relationship with God – that God spread them and that love around the world in every language spoken – as in every religious tradition, such that each culture, each people, each tradition could know the very same God, from whatever lens through which they see the world.

In that quiet place of faith that moves our soul, we find the celebration of faith. For this reason, the house of worship holds importance not just to a religion, but to all of our society. The mosque, the ashram, the Temple, the synagogue, the church, and even the coven – these are places where people of faith look to commune with the Source of all creation – and everyone /everything created from that one Source. These are the places in which world healing finds its grounding. The clergy and leadership of each spiritual home need our love and our support so that we can continue to combat the evils of fear, ignorance, ego, and hate that crouch at our doors. God’s Still Small voice gnaws at us to leave our places of comfort, go to lands where God has heard the cry of those in need, roll up our sleeves, and do the work of holding and restoring lives. Our houses of worship do not exist to perpetuate our denominations – they exist to push those like-minded. Like spirited people of any denomination to work together to pursue sharing God’s blessings for all people and for the earth.

It is time to pray – not the words of prayer but the being of prayer. Often, people read or sing the words and feel good having done just that. The lyrics serve only as the prelude to prayer – prayer is in the doing. If the heart is tuned in, then the words compel us to live our prayers. In the course of worship, we invoke God in many languages. We invoke God’s spirit across many traditions. Across religious and cultural traditions in faith, we all seek to come to dance to sing, to pray before the Source of creation. All the words of the differing traditions teach the very same lesson – we are all in this together and need each other. We should pray for the houses of worship that gather us – bring us together in love and in service. Our prayers should be for our spiritual home, and everyone else’s, as well.

It’s time to pray with our hearts and not our mouths. It is time to answer God’s prayer. However one believes, somehow, something brought life into being. Our human race has the tools built in to serve as stewards of all the earth and everyone on it. Not one person has the direct link to God’s conscience, and the rhetoric that purports to come from God’s competing mouths here on earth is only schizophrenic. Different religions teach different paths to a single truth. I would suggest that more at odds we are with each other, and the more we fight over my dogma vs. yours, the further we are from that truth.

This week’s Torah portion begins with the command, “EMOR – SPEAK.” What follows are lists of rational and irrational rules. Some make sense, and some do not. As written in a Jewish context, we must never read scripture literally – it is an allegory. What follows the portion’s opening command to speak is the implicit – “Here is all the noise that seeks to condemn life. Some of it is good for the community. Some may make sense until you are the one amid the controversy. Some of it makes no sense at all. That is life’s struggle. Talk about it; work through the chaff to find the wheat. The command to speak is not the command to yell; bring guns; demean, dismiss, seek to win over, or victimize another. In the engagement truth will distill out, no differently than the silver separates from the dross.” It begins by heeding the call to speak with each other. As we do, the Kol Demama guides us. As we seek less from our ignorance and fear and more from humanity’s heart, it will be the still small voice that helps us hear each other.

Shabbat Shalom.