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Introspection and Self-Reckoning

08/15/2018 12:40:30 PM


Rabbi Sam Shabman

There is a story about three people working the same job, and someone approaches and asks each of them the question: "What are you doing?" “I’m making a living,” says one. “I’m dragging heavy stone,” says another. Finally, the third says, “I’m building a cathedral." It was only the third worker who grasped the ultimate human meaning of the task at hand. Often, we can find ourselves engaging in tasks, and yet forgetting the underlying goal. As the cliche goes, we find ourselves “missing the forest for the trees.

I think about myself and what I would say to that question. If someone asked me that same thing, the question “What are you doing?” or more commonly phrased as “What do you do?” I might respond the first time, “I am work for a community.” Unsatisfied with the response, the person asks me the same question to which I sharpen the response, “I work at a synagogue.” A third time, she prods even further, to which I say, “I am fostering relationships.”

After all, relationships are what it’s all about...whether relationship to God, to the community, or to your fellow human being. Ours is a sacred quest for connection and meaning, and we derive that from our shared experiences with each other and with God.

We now find ourselves in the month of Elul, the home-stretch to the High Holy Days, a time of profound introspection and self-reckoning.

I invite each of you to ask yourself that same, hard question from above, “What are you doing?” and see how your response may change each time.

As the month of Elul passes before us, let us sharpen our answers and peel away the layers until we arrive at the essence of who we are and what we are doing as we approach the New Year.


Sun, June 16 2019 13 Sivan 5779