June 30, 2022 -

If It Be Your Will – Rabbi Andi Berlin

This message on “If Not Now, When?” the interactive blog of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple is adapted from the sermon shared by Rabbi Andi Berlin, guest rabbi for the Fairmount Temple clergy team during the High Holy Days, and was shared on Yom Kippur, 2018. We encourage you to comment below or to share the link to this sermon on social media such as Twitter or Facebook to continue the important conversation it engenders

In the past, I have shared sermons about the importance of performing ritual. I have preached about its imperative on Jewish continued. I have preached about the proven psychological benefits of using ritual to create meaning in one’s day, in one’s life. I have preached bout how families are closer, children more secure, spouses more loving when using ritual to frame and deepen relationships. Yet, each time, I have felt something was missing. I have never been able to transmit how ritual feels.

Close your eyes and imagine…

  • Parents hands resting warm and secure on a child’s head as they say the blessing on Friday night
  • An offhand Shabbat dinner invitation giving birth to years of friendship
  • Parsley’s mess of curls and overlapping lines spilling outside its oblong spot on the Seder plate
  • The doorbell ring announcing unanticipated joy of a Purim basket held by good friends, or even just an acquaintance.
  • Schach on Sukkah roofs rustling in the breeze on quiet nights and flittering stars
  • The shemah, sung in hush and tired tones with kids tucked in and closing eyes
  • Mikvah waters, buoyant and enveloping, enhancing our greatest joys and soothing after our deepest pain

Close your eyes and imagine…

  • Moisture dropping each year from tongues that try to catch the salty water falling off a parsley sprig
  • Blessings murmured wistfully as the mezuzah is removed from a family home as a couple shuts the door for the last time
  • Attentive and careful washing, cleansing, soft caress of caring for the dead as burial awaits
  • Spouses and partners coming together on Friday night, knowing that whatever tensions have hung in the air that day, they will rest through the blanket of Shabbat
  • The thud of dirt echoing on a wooden coffin marking the finality of loss
  • A child’s fingers interlaced with and braiding her mom’s tallis fringe as the service drags on
  • Books of dust and fray lining shelves in a living room, Hebrew words, thoughts, arguments filling their pages

Close your eyes and imagine…

  • Fingers making dancing shadows against the havdallah light
  • Children’s laughter peels as crumbs and mess trace the hiding of the afikomen
  • Mi sheberach for comfort and care…knowing it is too late for healing, permitting a family to let her go
  • A single flame blinking bright then soft in the yahrzeit jar as tears remember parents who raised or spouses who cherished
  • The dazzling glow of Chanukah lights illuminating laughter and song, licked fingers from grease and sweetness
  • The clink, clunk, the ping and rattle of coins deposited in their tzedakah box, in the pushki on grandma’s shelf

Close your eyes and imagine…

  • The lift and settle of our souls, the moving and reaching of our spirit; the height to which we climb as music opens windows between earth and Divine.