The notion of imagining how life will be and then living that reality is actually found in the Torah in this week’s portion, Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25). We read how Moses engaged in a great deal of finger wagging to tell us that we must understand that our accomplishments are not our own. Rather, our accomplishments are caused by grace, and just when we think that we ourselves have accomplished something, it is important for us to remember that God is at the source of all life and being. Our accomplishments are indeed the fruits of our own thoughts and feelings and, at the same time, our thoughts and our feelings exist within the reality of one God, one being, one spiritual reality in which we are all inextricably linked.
This week’s portion includes the second paragraph of the Shema that begins with the words “and if you listen.” It says in that paragraph that if we obey the commandments that God is enjoining upon us to love Adonai our God and serve God with all our heart and soul, then God will grant the rain for our land in its season, the early rain and the late rain. And we shall gather in our new grain and wine and oil— and God will also provide grass in the fields for our cattle—and thus we will be able to eat our fill. And if we are lured away to serve other gods and bow down to them, then God’s anger will flare up against us and the rains won’t fall and the people will perish from the good land that God is assigning to us.
What if that’s actually true? What if our actions and our thoughts really do determine the future? What if love really is the answer? What if loving God and loving one another really will allow the desert to bloom? We can debate whether global warming is real and we can also debate whether global warming is reversible and we can also step into the love that is all around us if we can just step out from behind our self-centeredness to realize our oneness with our neighbors and with all life and being.
Next weekend, we will move into the month before Rosh Hashanah – a month when the focus is on love before entering into a month when the focus is on judgment. Elul is a month when we prepare for Rosh Hashanah by preparing our hearts to offer an apology to those we have hurt and wronged and to turn to God to say we are sorry for all the ways we have let ourselves down and all the ways we have let God down.
As we prepare for round challah and apples and honey to welcome the coming new year with sweetness, we don’t know what life will bring and, yet we do know that love does make the world go round and we do all live on the same planet and our fate is bound up with others in our human family and in the family of the Jewish people.
May this be a time of great potential and great blessing in our lives; a time of healing, a time of forgiveness, a time of moving away from shame and toward love in our everyday thoughts and actions.