Tag Archives: Rabbi Eckstein

ANTICIPATION DAYS

Ya know how you wait and you wait and you wait for special days? Anticipation takes over almost every waiting minute? Lists of things to accomplish before the event occurs? While the pit of your stomach aches just to go to sleep, so you can wake up before it arrives and get more done?

That’s what it has been like in NC this week.

Switching between the weather channel and local news. Walking outside to recheck what might need to be stashed or tied down or chucked in the trash. Checking on friends living close to the coast. Answering notes of messages of concern from friends in other states. Checking on older neighbors. Praying for, not just our coast, but all the other coasts, states and countries that are battling their own natural disasters.
The workers that stand in the gap.
The uncertainty.
The loss of stuff.
The worry.
The prayer.

‘We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy. O Lord, hear. O Lord, forgive. O Lord, listen and act!”~Dan 9:18b-19a

As always – knowing me well and my constant need for reassurance – my many devotions centered on the power of prayer and a merciful and loving Father who not only hears but anticipates our every need – even before we voice it. Oh but He loves to hear our voices cry out to Him, so He waits. Like us – whom He created in His own image – 
waiting – 
anticipating – 
loving – 
completely knowing us to depths of ourselves that even we don’t know.

These are the nights and the days of anticipation. The days of the shofar. Jewish tradition says that every night when sleep comes, the souls rise to heaven and record what they did that day in a book- the real good, the good, the bad, the ugly bad – and then attest to it with their signature.

A part of me likes this idea. Being accountable for my actions was drilled into me over and over as I grew up. Recording them while they are still fresh with joy or heavy with dread – in my soul seems like good parenting. Signing my name in full to the real good, the good, the bad, the ugly bad helps me face what I have done with my day. But in my mind I see something more – something so full of love that my breath catches in anticipation.

When the shofar blows at sunrise, I see a cross stamped – – – completely blotting out my deeds and signature. My tear-filled eyes blink to see His nailed-scared hand holding mine, easing the eternal back into the temporal. Our eyes meet in that silver cord second, and His smile remains within me for the rest of the day. His song singing in my soul as the sun rises above the horizon, and I swing my feet over the side of the bed to start anew.

I am fully known, fully forgiven and fully loved..

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.”~Ps 32:1a

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GET WISDOM

Sunshine + rain + some kind of high pressure that is pushing 
that old bag of wind Florence further South = humidity overload to the nth degree.

The head hurts.

It has been a humid summer. Even most native North Carolinians have wiped their brow a few times. Today was no different until about 6:00 when the girls and I stuck our nose outside. The humidity had dropped (a little). Enough that we decided to take our rambling walk down the hill to the neighbors.

I love these walks because the girls are happily exploring, sniffing out new aromas, chasing random squirrels that drop out of a tree, and eventually – checking back in on me. As for me, it is the quiet of the neighborhood and my time to try to listen a little harder to my Father. I have this tendency to talk or think too much. Getting outside – whether walking or sitting on our swing – is my quiet time. Which – believe it or not – is really hard for me.

“The beginning of wisdom is: get wisdom.”~Prov 4:7

As much as I like being by myself, I am not a quiet person. I talk to myself. I write stories in my head, Songs may interrupt me at any time. I tend to have this running commentary going on in my head at all times. Meditation is extremely SO hard. If I am quiet – I’m generally asleep within 5 minutes. So listening to God is hard – – – really, really hard.

So today as the sun was setting, I was doing my best to listen and suddenly, last night’s dream popped into my mind. I remembered I was dreaming in French. Now you have to understand that I hated learning French and don’t really remember much. But I understood everything last night – even the song that was being sung by a bunch of dancers in white – except for one. That one had a copper skirt that only showed when she kicked her feet up in the air.

I figured my mind was getting me off track again, so I prayed a little on some prayer requests circling around and tried to still my mind again. By that time, I found a rock that had moss growing on it, and I had to take a picture of it, right? Then the dogs were under foot and smiling at me, so I had to stop and talk to them. Do you see why being quiet is so hard for me?

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim You, who walk in the Light of Your presence, LORD.”~Ps 89:15

I tried a couple more times before I finally just smiled up at my Father, shrugged my shoulders, and asked for His forgiveness for not being a good listener, and I swear I could almost hear Him laugh and I was thankful.

Earlier today, I was reading about the shofar blasts that are used during High Holy Days. There is one blast that is a series of 9 notes. The word for it is “teruah”. It is also the original Hebrew word that is used in Ps 89:15. It is usually translated as “to acclaim” in English. Jewish wisdom looks at it slightly different. They say, “Blessed are those who know the secret of the sofar blast…”

Can you keep a secret?

The first shofar was created after God showed His grace, His mercy and His love to Abraham and Issac by providing a sacrifice. Thus, to hear a shofar is always a reminder of His mercy – His grace – His love to all people. A reminder that when we, as a people blow our horn and are able to accept responsibility for our foolishness – our sins – all on our own, God doesn’t have to correct our behavior for us. Instead, He can blow His grace, His mercy and His love over us and smile.

Starting the 4th day of the High Holy Days – a little wiser and a whole lot more thankful that My Father certainly knows and loves my heart and hopefully, as I grow a little wiser, my heart will be a little more like His. 

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”~Matt 5:8

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Happy Birthmonth, America

  • In Philadelphia on the 2nd of July 1776, a vote was taken that changed the way the world thought.
  • On the 3rd of July 1776, a small sentence on the second page reported the results of that vote.
  • On the 4th of July 1776, the final draft was submitted to be published and eventually – signed in August of 1776.
  • Thus, the date everyone in this brand new country saw as they read this small document was July 4, 1776.
  • Independence Day.

It was [is] not a perfect country, and it was [is] filled with controversies.

  • Natives vs Europeans vs Africans vs …
  • English vs French vs Spanish vs Dutch vs …
  • Catholic vs protestant vs Jews vs atheists …
  • Tory vs Yankee vs Rebel vs Republican vs Democrat vs …
  • Slave vs Free vs indentured vs …
  • Rich vs middle vs poor vs homeless vs …

The divisions continue to swirl in growing concentric circles over and over and over.

We are human and we tend to make mistakes – sometimes – very big ones. Unfortunately, we also tend to dwell – focus – ruminate on those mistakes over and over. Giving it new names – justice…punishment…pay back…unfair… bias…bigotry…  But what if instead of concentrating on the mistakes, we concentrated on the knowledge and the wisdom gained from those horrible mistakes?

Walking dogs are always a great way to meet people. A couple of years back, one of those people encounters introduced me to some new concepts that I’ve just started re-reading this past week. Typically (for me), I get side-tracked by daily craziness, or whining about this or that, and do not pursue things with great intensity. (After all, I am reitred and “deserve” to be a little lazy, right?) I guess that laziness was a mistake because…(ready for it?)…guess what popped up in a devotional today? You got it!  Not one but both ideas in one short devotional. One God giving a one big hint. Gotta love those God hints.

The first idea is called Appreciative Inquiry by David Coopperrider and Diana Whitney. Essentially – it is looking for the best in any situation.

http://http://appreciativeinquiry.case.edu/intro/whatisai.cfm

The other is a 2004 documentary called “What the (Bleep) Do We Know?” The content of this movie explores a spiritual connection between quantum physics and consciousness.

http://http://www.whatthebleep.com/

Now the first idea relates a little more to my world. After teaching for so many years, I’ve trained my self to look for the best in most everything (although like everyone, I can get caught up in negative situations). Quantum physics and consciousness is a little out of my realm – well – more than a little. Although, I have picked up a lot of scientific facts from reading National Geographic, Discovery, ect, I really struggle with the in-depth study of it. Thank God for my children who seem to have taken after hubby and are much more adept at understanding such things so they can help explain it to me.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” ~ Phil 4:8

Fairly obvious advice from the WORD. Think on the admirable, the excellent or the praiseworthy. What if we tried to do that more in our world today? What if we did that with our friends? Our enemies? Our state? Our nation? A couple political conventions? A lot of people would complain that we are only hiding our heads in the sand or taking a “Pollyanna” approach. Yet, if we acknowledge the injustice, the damage, the pain and accept that we can find knowledge, wisdom and discernment in our mistakes, is it ignoring the problem or moving forward with new insights? I need to keep reading, but now I have a spiritual underpinning for this thought.

“Then Balak said to him, “Come with me to another place where you can see them; you will not see them all but only the outskirts of their camp. And from there, curse them for me.” ~ Num 23:13

The second one takes us a little deeper and back into the OT with Jewish wisdom. I have always skipped over stories that I don’t understand or can’t figure out why it is in the Bible. Drives me crazy. Like a jigsaw puzzle that takes forever to put together. I will read and re-read a story trying to figure out why it is important for me to know and after a while – I will just push it out of my mind and go on to the next puzzle. Obviously, I don’t know this Bible story well, so again, I will have to go back and re-read it a few more times. Essentially, Balak, King of the Moabites, hired Balaam to curse Israel. The hitch was that they had to see the people to make the curse work. You might be wondering what this has to do with Quantum Physics? Lucky for both of us, the rabbi who wrote this devotional had the answer.

“The gift of sight allows us to take in so much information about the world around us. Not only do we receive facts and knowledge by looking at something, we also may receive inspiration or good feelings from what we observe. However, what we often don’t realize is that when we look at something, we aren’t just on the receiving end. We are also contributing and affecting the world around us, even if we don’t know it. Quantum physics confirmed this concept through an experiment that was set up in order to ascertain whether matter was a particle or a wave. I’m not here to give a physics lesson, but the end result was startling. When not observed, matter behaved like a wave. However, when the matter was observed, it changed into a particle. In other words, scientific evidence proved that an observer does influence what is being observed. That means we all affect what we look at, and how we see things affects them profoundly.” ~ Rabbi Eckstein.

America has completed her 240th year.  For those who are moving and shaking and those who are just observing. it looks like the 241st year will be another decisive and derisive year in many ways.   I wonder how and what I am learning today relates to those facts, yet – I know it does. I need to do some more reading on both of these ideas. I need to read more American history. I NEED to read more of the WORD. Knowledge always comes first, and if I’m observant, wisdom and discernment will follow —- eventually. Right now, I do know that America and Israel are tired together in more ways than the one that is written on paper and stored in Washington D.C. I know God is moving more than just me. I’m just not sure why I’m on the journey that I am walking. It makes me smile, because there is always something unexpected and uncontrollable that Our Father will bring my way – if I have the courage to stay the course unto its completion.  One step at a time…

In the meantime – Happy Birthmonth, America. It is promising to be an interesting – if somewhat scary – yearus-1443698_960_720