Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Unbound: the Year of Unraveling - Erev Rosh Hashanah 5775

Since I'm unable to insert my sermon with proper citations in this setting - check it out on Temple Shir Tikva's website.  Shana tovah!  Jen

Erev Rosh Hashanaha Sermon 5775 - Rabbi Jen Gubitz

Friday, September 26, 2014

Shabbat Shuva: Return to Sender (From 5774)

Shabbat Shuva: Return to Sender
September 6, 2013 ~ 3 Tishrei 5774
Rabbi Jen Gubitz

Turning the key, with a creak the mailbox opened.  Thumbing through the pile she found another packet from AdSense with unusable coupons unless you plan to redo your house every month; a charitable foundation’s solicitation with more return address labels; another’s solicitation that was an exact replica of the form email they’d sent her 10 times that week; an excise tax bill from the town; and an envelope so dog eared and tattered it looked like it had traveled through decades. And in big bold sharpie-black letters across the front: Return to Sender, Address Unknown.

You can probably already predict this extended metaphor: for we are in that period of Jewish time when the postal service to the divine needs to add Sundays to its delivery schedule, needs to hire extra elves (wrong holiday), needs to hire extra messengers (perhaps angels), to support all the influx of pieces arriving in the mailbox on High.

And so we must ask ourselves: To whom will you write? And what will you say? And how will you say it?
Prescribed to us by the month of Elul and the Yamim Nora’im, these days of Awe, we engage now in a reflection of our inner Rolodex - organizing, optimizing not the actual cards but the relationships represented by each.
We read and re-read, we write and re-write, letters to our loved ones, letters to the universe, letters to God…

So to whom will you write? And what will you say? And how will you say it?

In a stationary store, it’s as though there is a card for every occasion…
Thank you!  Happy Birthday! New Baby! Mazel tov on your Wedding! Condolences on your loss.

But it is rare to see a card that says in a non-cheekish, non-hipster, or non-sarcastic way, “I’m sorry… “I regret when I… “Forgive me… or “I forgive you…

While the industry may one day catch on to this opportune business endeavor, sans stationary -

To whom will you write? And what will you say? And how will you say it?

Our body clocks are attuned to the Jewish calendar and there are people in our lives who are waiting to hear from us. Don’t send them a form letter. Don’t send them an automatic email response. Or a printed holiday greeting.  

That’s not enough.

And so too are the Gates on High waiting to hear from you.  What will you say and how will you say it? And how does the Divine open each letter? And how does the Divine consider its contents, giving each its due time?  

But wait, before you head to the mailbox, there’s one more person waiting to hear from you.

What will you say to yourself? And how will you say it? How will you consider the contents of your letter? How will you give yourself your due time?

[An aside: you can give yourself that due time on a website called doyou10Q.com, which invites you to reflect on 10 personal questions. After locking it, it will allow you to return to your answers in 5776.]

On this Shabbat Shuva, and in these days of return, may your hand tire
from all the letters that will transpire as you seek to build and rebuild, write and rewrite, and I pray, read and re-read all the soul correspondence you send and receive...

So to whom will you write? And what will you say? And how will you say it?

O source of this New Year, 5775, we pray that our messages be worthy of your merit. We seek to address you in your holy dwelling place so we may return and return to sender, return and return to ourselves - again and again, a Forever Stamp embossed on our souls.