We are faith leaders representing many different traditions and congregations who seek to promote understanding, dialogue, and common purpose in our community. This space offers members of our association an opportunity to share reflections with the broader community. The writings represent our individual views, not the positions of the Association or of our respective congregations. We aim to model dialogue that welcomes a diversity of ideas and perspectives grounded in friendship and respect.
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Does Prayer Work?
If many people pray for someone to get better and the person partially
recovers, did God answer the prayer?Was
the prayer lacking because not enough people joined in?Would the person have completely recovered if
twice as many people had prayed?
The thought of this age old question came to me, along with so many other
thoughts, contemplating the tragic story that unfolded in our largery community
this week leading to the tragic death of John Wile, a man with cognitive impairment
who had been missing after going for a jog earlier this week.My heart goes out to his family.
I was moved how so many people joined in the effort to attempt to locate
him, but without success.So did all our
prayers not work?Did we not offer enough?Do enough?
This is the wrong way to imagine how prayer works.Rabbi David Wolpe refers to such bargaining
prayer – make my loved one better and I’ll be good as “hardly the highest
spirit of faith.”
Would that it were so, and certainly, every so often, it does seem as if it
is, and I dare not to put limits on what God might do, but in my experience,
prayers aren’t answered with rewards sprinkled down on us from heaven.
Prayer does, however, move us to be godly, to be the agents of God, if not
God’s answer, in a world in need of prayer.Prayer is the challenge of love and of hope given voice, given life.It is the recognition, when we use the prayers
of the past, that our challenges are universal experiences of humanity.And when we often our own prayers, it is linking
our own experiences with the universal and, I believe, the Universal.
In our community this week, a life came to an end, hearts were broken and
hopes sank.Our prayers were neither
answered nor ignored.I’d like to think
they opened windows through which all the necessary responses to such a moment
in life entered – sadness, love, advocacy, futility of purpose, the presence of
God, the demand to do more even as one individual.
Just as the urge to find God present in the world motivates us to continually
strive to be just a little closer better than we have been every day, the need for
our prayers hasn’t ended, if anything it is one of the best ways to make
progress along that path of discovering God.
Rabbi Aaron Benson serves at the North Shore Jewish Center.
My mind has been thinking about time and how it seems to be different now with all of what is happening. First there is COVID-19 and our stay-in-place semi-lockdown. For those who have full-time jobs, and even for those who don't, we schedule things around moments in time. Our lives are routine-based: when we get up, when we eat, when we work, when we have time for family, when we have time to ourselves, when we sleep, etc. When our routines are disrupted, many of us feel out of sorts or even lost. What happened? Why is this happening? When is it (routine) coming back? I've heard that there are many Americans who find it difficult to take a vacation, a real vacation of a week or two, because it takes them away from their work for too long. As we are gradually allowed to come back to our former lives before COVID-19, perhaps we will have a better sense of time, our old time. But then again, maybe time will never be the same. George Floyd was killed senselessly an
One of the most popular features on a local newscast of a small TV station is something rather surprising. It is a feature called- “The Day of the Week”. Today is…….. Monday! The station put forth this as a kind of joke at first, but it was so popular that it became a regular daily addition to the morning newscast. Apparently, so many of us have lost track of what day it is that we need a reminder. During this stay-at-home time, every day seems to blend into the next. It is truly difficult to remember how many days we have all been quarantined at home, what the date is and what day of the week it is. Many of us have a few markers that help- jobs that pause for the weekend, celebrations of Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays- special days of worship. But even with these, the days seem to bleed into each other like a striped shirt washed in hot water. The period that we are in right now in the Jewish calendar is ironically, a time of counting. A time when we purposely try to keep
I did not want to write about this virus-time. I did not think I could. Another piece was in my mind this week, not quite yet taking shape. But when I sat to write, the virus took my attention and I could not wrest it back. There are useful and funny memes online, and stories of good will and good works, and words of inspiration and comfort. And terrible stories, too. Mostly at a distance, we have been sharing dance and art and music, facts and opinions, cautionary tales and fairy tales. We miss hugs and doing projects and working and learning together in person. Sometimes we are in a bubble for a while that lets us just be, free of anxiety or fear. Sometimes we cannot get out of bed. Sometimes we cannot sleep. Sometimes we eat all the chocolate and sometimes we eat nothing. We who are privileged live like this. We are grateful to the people who work at the jobs we need to have done even in the face of the danger and I believe we do not understand a fraction o