Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm a bad Jew

I'm sure I tempt fate in admitting I'm not an overly religious soul. I've never been particularly good at remembering the intricacies of prayer, and often find myself skipping to the wrong page, choosing the wrong tune or otherwise stumbling over myself as I try to keep up with everyone around me. I do my best, but I often fret that it isn't nearly good enough and joke to my wife that I should wear a "Bad Jew" sign wherever I go because I always seem to muck it up despite my best intentions.

Still, in the eight months since my father passed away (it still stings to write it, and I guess it always will) I've found great comfort in reconnecting with who I am and where I come from. I've found it peaceful to head to synagogue in the predawn darkness, because doing so not only gives me a brief slice of time with a similarly devoted group of really kind members of my community - another family, really - but it gives me an opportunity, as I drive alone, to reflect on what's changed, and how I've had to change as a result.

I'm going to guess, hopefully, that wherever G-d is, I'm not being judged on my current ability to read out of a prayer book or lead others in the service (I'm working on it), but on how I'm trying hard to leverage the experience of connecting with community to become a better person. I'm going to guess that the spirit of a thing matters more than the letter of it.

Your turn: Please share a tip on how to be a better person, because I can use all the help I can get!


MB said...

I don't think you need any help. From what I see, you're as good as it gets.

I have faith that G-d doesn't really care whether you remember the intricacies of prayer, skip to the wrong page, choose the wrong tune or otherwise stumble over yourself. He knows what's in your heart and that's all that really matters.

kenju said...

You have never appeared to need help in that regard, Carmi. But if you really need help, observe those around you whom you believe to be good people. Pick something about them to emulate, and little by little, you will improve.

sage said...

You have a good heart, Carmi. The more we love, the more we grieve, but we should never trade the love. I'm sorry about your father.

As for being judged by our ability to pray or sing, blame the Almighty for not giving you the talents. He has big shoulders and can take it. If singing in tune is a requirement for gaining G-d's pleasure, then I'm in a heap of trouble.

btw, I think G-d has a great sense of humor too and probably smiles and chuckles at our attempts to worship, just like we parents get a kick out of watching our children.

hahamommy said...

Seems to me that you're a Good Human ♥ A Good Human in pain needs to focus on healing! When you've got the energy ready to trickle out into being a Good Anythingelse, then you know the process of healing really is underway.
I think it's this whole human process that intrigues G-d the most. At the very least, you're keepin 'im entertained ;)

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

My childhood rabbi taught me that it's not about how well you follow the customs and rituals. It's what's in your heart that matters. That's what God looks at every Yom Kippur. You can be a great Jew and never go to Temple, never light Shabbat candles, never do a thing.

Don't stress so much, Carmi. Like we'll tell our daughters, it's not how we look on the outside. It's what inside.

kcinnova said...

Being religious, to me, is all about following laws and customs. I don't find anything wrong with those things -- in fact, they are often rather comforting! But human beings are fallible and we often muck things up. That is why being in community with others is both comforting and challenging.
Faith and prayer are about relationship... and in my understanding, that is really what our Heavenly Father wants from us.

Blessings to you, Carmi.