In light of the fact that someone recently asked me what I believe, here are some of the things that I believe today (in no particular order), on March 3, 2019:
- That God speaks to me through the text of the Torah.
- That the Rabbis who wrote the Mishnah, Midrash, and Talmud were creative geniuses to whom I am eternally grateful.
- That worthwhile relationships require hard work.
- That children are both amazing and impossible, often at the same time.
- Taking care of children, teaching them, and raising them to become respectable, responsible adults requires untold sums of patience, hard and boring work, inspiration, and perspiration. (This is true even for proponents of free-range parenting.)
- That things (habits, manners, ways of being in the world) that weren't modeled for us as children are more difficult to acquire in adulthood.
- That human bodies come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and that no one shape or size is better than any other shape or size.
- That the things that we love the most often cause us the most pain: our family, our friends, our romantic relationships, our communities (Jewish or otherwise), our religion... The list goes on. It is very long!
- That everyone (everyone!) can benefit from both individual and group therapy.
- That nature is both beautiful and cruel.
- That the ability to feel deep gratitude is an enormous blessing.
- That we improve at things through practice.
- That all of us struggle with things that are often/always/sometimes invisible to others.
- That time spent outside in nature, standing still in appreciation or meandering while lost in thought, is never wasted.
- That the myriad, unending series of individual choices that we all make in life are constrained both by things that we understand and know and things that we don't know or understand.
- That the Torah contains beautiful wisdom and really, really challenging verses.
- That the Talmud contains beautiful wisdom and really, really challenging pericopes (that's the fancy English word for sugyot).
- That the Midrash contains beautiful wisdom and really, really challenging passages.
- That it's normal to go through periods of feeling energized and excited by things (concepts, communities, hobbies, practices) and then distant from and alienated from them. Even bored by them. Things wax and wane. That's how it goes. Sometimes, we push through and continue our practiced commitment to them even during periods of waning interest or outright alienation, and sometimes we don't. And that's okay!
- That there are multiple authentic ways to practice Judaism and that different ways work for different people. Maybe even for the same person at different times of their life.
- That racism and sexism (among other -isms) are ubiquitous in the United States today (and probably elsewhere, but that's where I live). They are sometimes insidious and sometimes really blatant and in your face. The impact each one of us every single day.
I am quite sure that there are many more things that I believe, but that's what I have for you today!
Labels: childhood, education, Jewish community, life, mental health, teaching