If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.
When My Rabbi visited town recently, she brought a magnet with that quote on it to me.
I always refer to her as “My Rabbi” and, until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to what others might hear in that phrase . . . probably because I myself couldn’t explain what it meant. I just knew that “it was.”
I used that phrase to describe her while talking to Rabbi Arthur Green and then, as he and I continued our conversation, I learned the phrase led him to assume that she was the rabbi who helped me complete my conversion to Judaism.
The shallow, selfish, sensitive part of me (my “ego”) urged me to be offended by his assumption because, in some strange way, I no longer think of myself as a convert . . . but . . . he was right: My Rabbi did help me complete my conversion to Judaism.
Nevertheless, that’s not why she is My Rabbi — that would be putting the cart before the horse!!
The truth is that I chose to complete my conversion to Judaism with her because she was already My Rabbi.
So, why is she My Rabbi?
…because she’s the kind of person who would bring me a quote to remind me how astounded I would be if I acknowledged what I am capable of doing!
You see, My Rabbi is able to accept and love me for exactly who I am — acknowledging the existence of my faults, inconsistencies, and contradictions — while also seeing me as an image of G-d that is created anew at each moment and filled with infinite potential and possibility.
She’s not the only person in the world who can do this, of course! It is the kind of love we hope a mother will share with her children. It is the love that I always found in my Granny’s eyes (which probably explains why I still miss her so much!). It’s the love that connects people across generations, across space, and through time.
In my experience, this love allows a person to simultaneously feel:
–the safety and security of a child enveloped in it’s mother’s womb or wrapped up in it’s father’s strong arms following a frightening experience;
–the infinite hope and promise that a pregnant woman can feel for the child inside her or that any person can feel when holding a newborn child.
It is a sacred, holy love, because:
–standing in this love can open a “window” that allows us to find a new understanding of the past and/or to imagine a different future . . . without requiring us to deny the present;
–sharing this kind of love creates a bond, connection, or oneness between people that cannot be broken . . . but yet has nothing to do with the day-to-day details of life.
This love is, of course, what people mean when they refer to “G-d’s Infinite Love,” Ahavah Rabbah. It was the love that Jesus shared. It is the love the Dalai Lama shares. It was the love of Hillel and Shammai. It is the love that I am humbled to see Pope Francis display so easily. It is the love that mystics seek through union with G-d. It is the Hesed for which the original Hasidim were named.
It is a love that reminds us that although we don’t know what today will be and we don’t know what tomorrow might bring, we cannot waste time and energy fearing the infinite possibilities. Instead, we must embrace the infinite possibility because embracing it is the only way to truly LIVE!!
To embrace life in this way, we must:
(1) Fall into the the security of G-d’s Infinite Love;
(2) Stand in each and every moment without any shame about the flaws that make us beautifully-original images of G-d;
(3) Never, ever doubt that we are capable of so much that we could astound even ourselves if we allowed ourselves the freedom to continue becoming . . . infinitely . . . whatever we might become . . .
From the moment we met, My Rabbi offered me Ahavah Rabbah and began teaching me about those three rules —that is why she became “My Rabbi”!
The fact that she has been willing for the last ten years to continue offering Ahavah Rabbah, teaching me, and –when I have occasionally lost my way– gently pointing me back to whichever of those three rules I have most-recently forgotten — that is why I hope she will always be “My Rabbi.”
If you don’t have a rabbi (priest, pastor, imam, mentor, etc.) who can show you, with both words and deeds, how to walk humbly with G-d, then I encourage you to find one!
Shabbat shalom, jen