Posted by: jdiscover | December 24, 2010

Back to Blog! Notice the Holy!


It has been a long while since I have written my weekly Shabbat blog. My apologies for not keeping up. The sudden death of my mother at the end of August and my chaplaincy work at NIH (which includes all day on Friday) got me out of the routine.

Now is a good time to return to the practice. I am off this Friday and this week’s Torah portion, Shmot, is my Bar Mitzvah portion.

With Shmot, we begin the story of the Exodus and the formation of the descendents of Jacob (Israel) into an am– a nation or peoplehood. This formation begins on a mountain – Horeb, where Moshe (Moses) experiences a message from God at the burning bush and reaches its peak at Mt. Sinai – which the tradition identifies as Horeb– when all the children of Israel experience God’s message.

I am fascinated by the bush all aflame that was not consumed. Of course Moshe noticed the bush aflame, it was hard to miss, but how did he come to notice that it was not burning up? That Moshe noted that the bush was not being consumed means that he must have been watching it intently for a period of time. Moshe is a keenly aware individual. Only after it was clear that Moshe was closely paying attention, did God call upon him from the bush. Experiencing holiness, the Torah is teaching, requires sharp awareness.

During the past three months I have been blessed to be in the presence of many individuals who are also keenly aware of the Holy. The patients, their families and the staff I have supported and learned from as a chaplain at NIH confront life and death realities every day. They experience life aflame and are not consumed by the fire. From this daily practice comes a sharp sense of the holiness contained in each moment of life.

But we do not need to be seriously ill or in close proximity to illness to experience the Holy. The Holy is part of our daily routines when we stop to pay attention. We all stand on Holy ground! Each moment that we are alive; each moment that the warm fire of life burns within us and does not consume us is a beautiful blessing.  When we become aware and appreciative of this nurturing fire of life, we, like Moshe and the people of Israel are ready to receive God’s manifestation and message.

In this coming New Year may we be blessed, no matter our circumstances, to experience the Holy.

Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi David Rose

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