As you know, life is filled with repetition. Days and weeks pass quickly, as you fill them with routines and schedules, often tasks and activities you do “all the time”.
September and fall time inject change, especially for those with school age children, as they “officially” become a year older, in entering a new grade. Even that “ritual” becomes “old”, as the children become older.
Judaism, as a program designed for daily living, challenges you with a different perspective on how to approach life’s habits and repetitions. Begin with possibly faulty assumptions about God. The Power of the Universe, as “accessed” through Judaism, is not an “Idea” to ponder, or a remote “Being”, irrelevant to, and removed from, reality. Nor is IT a “matter” of “belief” or “faith”, to calm and comfort you, with assurances of Salvation and a secure Afterlife. Judaism allows freedom of choice about God, so there is nothing to stop you from “believing” what you do about God, yet nowhere in Hebrew is there a precise word for “faith” or “belief”. “Emunah” translates as “steadfastness”, “stick-to-it-iveness” and “on-going commitment”, more than, commonly translated as, “belief”.
As mystical tradition suggests, God is a Verb. God not only exists; God is involved in the Doing of your life, particularly in relationships and matters of timing and circumstances. Instead of designating God as subject to “Belief”, Judaism focuses on God in terms of dynamic interaction, and even partnership, in engaging life. The word that describes God’s “Place” in Judaism, and in your daily life, is “Brit (Bris”), “Covenant”. That translates as “Partnership”, “Relationship” and “Contract”. Nor is there just one mention of Brit or one context. There are numerous kinds of Brit to indicate many and varied contexts for God’s “Presence”. Welcoming a new-born on day eight is one; Bar/Bat Mitzvah is another. The wedding day is another. The weekly Shabbat, marking your usage of time, is another. On a community level, in addition to those mentioned, all involving community celebration, there are all the Holy Days celebrating the Covenant, beginning with the gift of Torah on Shavuot, when all Israel publicly welcomed the Covenant at Mt. Sinai.
Thinking of God, in terms of Covenant, matters of Partnership, Relationships and interaction of people, time and place, invites you to revisit, not only God in your life, but of practical consequence, how you are approaching life’s repetition, and how you connect with moments and tasks you have seen and done “millions of times before”. What the Covenant, in its many forms, gives you is an understanding that the next moment, and each, thereafter, is a first, and an opportunity to do something very special, and even wondrous, with someone, and in some situation, you had not seen in “this” way before.
Jewishly, the month of September correlates with the Hebrew month of Elul, embraced, in Jewish tradition, as the period for drawing near to, and reconnecting with, God, helping you prepare for the Days of Awe. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, are days for transforming how you approach the days, weeks and year ahead. You can start by looking anew at who and what are important in your life, and how they can be part of turning some or much of what is ordinary into moments and activities that become extraordinary, dare you say, even Godly. Pay closer attention to timing and circumstance, and all those alleged “coincidences”. Including God in the daily equation will open your eyes, with renewed appreciation, to those who share your life journey, and a myriad of opportunities to do so much more, and so much better, than you had possibly considered before.
Engaging and embracing Brit, God’s presence in the otherwise ordinary parts of your day, can change your whole perspective on why you are on the planet, and what you have to offer and to gain. It is in your interest to do so, and it is in God’s interest to have you on the Team.
After note: many of you were taught to write G-D for God, since the Hebrew identity is abbreviated as Yud, Yud and or written and pronounced Adonai. My custom is to distinguish between the actual name for God in Hebrew and so many other designations of the Almighty, that are not the precise “Name”, including the English designation. Either way is “right”.