Letters to G-d from a Bored Jew
Again? Same ol, same ol? Fall’s around the corner, the World Series is coming soon, and we Jews have to spend *hours*in the synagogue. Hours, G-d. Not even *you* have to spend that long in there. What do you want us to do, get excited? Every year, same setup, same framework, and you want us to really be sitting on the edge of our seats? We miss days of school and work, we put on uncomfortable clothes, and we go sit for hours with prayer books in hand, mumbling words that we said last year, hearing sermons that we’ll hear next year, and pretending that we’re so pious as to be “turning over a new leaf.” Yeah, right. That might have worked in the 80s and 90s, but we’re in the 21st century now. If you can’t give us an app, at least give us a break.
Quit blaming me. If you’re bored, it’s your own fault for not making life more exciting. If you’re bored in synagogue, maybe you need more preparation before you go. A book, a chat with a mentor, yoga, some solitude. The service itself is not the main event. The internal change inside of you IS.
Maybe you need to change synagogues. Or maybe you need to start your own, with a community of like-minded people who are looking for an alternative. Or perhaps a forest would work better for you than a building.
Remember what Rabbi Heschel said: “Life without wonder is not worth living.”
So quit blaming me and start taking control over your life. Make wonder happen!
I don’t even know if I believe in you. I mean, okay, you created the world. I can’t think of any other explanation of how this universe got here. But since then, how do I really know if you’re here with us? Maybe you retired, retreated, got sick of how we acted, changed your mind?
Because if you don’t exist, or even if you’re not here with us, all of this New Years stuff might be one colossal waste of time. If you do exist, why don’t you show yourself? What is this, a childish game of hide-and-go-seek?
Even if I didn’t exist, doing Jewish on the High Holidays is *still* worth your while. What could possibly be better than bettering yourself and your world? I think you know this even without me telling you. Even if I didn’t exist to tell you.
And if we’re already talking about my existence – and please don’t take this personally – I really don’t care that much if you believe in me or not. If I did, I could make it happen in a second. Truth is, I like the idea of the world and its inhabitants being in a state of “doubt.” It builds character. And yes, I like playing hide-and-go-seek. And so do you, and don’t deny it.
You play it all the time. Only you usually hide…FROM YOURSELF.
The question you should be asking yourself is not “Is G-d listening to me?” but rather “Am I listening to me?”
The High Holiday season is a great time to hear *yourself*. And the synagogue service can be pretty cool, and deep, too. Take the shofar. When the shofar speaks, people listen…to themselves. It transcends words. It gets into your kishkies.I don’t care how you dress, but there is one thing that kinda ticks me off. Please don’t come to shul with earbuds; and I don’t mean the physical ones. I mean the ones that you put in your ears when you don’t want to hear about your faults and your spiritual to-do-list.
On the other hand, there’s one thing that I love: when you cry. I know that sounds cruel, but I don’t mean it that way. I don’t mean crying from pain and deep sadness. I mean breaking down and crying because you are working on yourself, and because it’s a humbling process – which is hard work, and because it can be overwhelming when you get to realizing how much fixing there is to do in this world.
So, yeah, I really want to recommend crying. Try it! It’s actually quite refreshing. I don’t care where and I don’t care when. But some time during the High Holiday season (even in the bathroom as far as I’m concerned) if you can’t bring yourself to cry, then you haven’t yet taken your earbuds out.
Why did you make a world so broken? Why did you make humans so weak? Why did your universal blueprint include a yearly improvement plan, making promises, breaking promises, and all the baggage that comes with that?
I made a broken world so you could fix it. I made broken humans so you could fix yourselves. I made you brittle so that you could see the brittleness in others and help them, and vice-versa. And you, Mr. Big-Complainer-of-Boredom, do you know how boring a world is that needs no fixing? Ask any Maytag technician and he’ll tell you.
Now quit whining, and get to work. Just like your parents always told you: “One day, you’ll thank me.” Yom Kippur (and the World Series) is just around the corner. And if you wanna know how to prepare for *those* holidays, just ask Sandy Koufax.