“Enthusiasm,” for most of its history as an English word, has had a mixed connotation. The word literally means “being possessed by a god” and by the 18th century had come to mean “ill-regulated religious emotion or speculation.” The Oxford Universal Dictionary gives a 19th century example: “Everywhere the history of religion betrays a tendency to enthusiasm.”
Around the time I entered high school I discovered that it was not “cool” to be enthusiastic. As a matter of fact, phrases like “be cool” and “that’s chill” reflected the tendency towards austere distance from the world. Looking back I realize the whole attitude was pretentious and fear driven. The idea was that the more distant you are from things, the less likely they will be able to hurt you; then you can become practically invincible. Of course, it never really worked. This is why the ways of God will never really smack of the kind of “cool” that characterized my adolescence (as well as others). God does not really give us the permission to be distant from him or his world. Yeshua’s example drives this point home.
During the month of Elul, Jewish tradition recommends that everyone practice one of the main disciplines of mussar, cheshbon ha-nefesh, or taking an account of the soul.
“Be diligent to make your call and election sure.” 2 Peter 1:10
Divine-human partnership is one of the great themes of Scripture. Only God can create, but he places human beings within his creation to bear his image, to fill the earth and subdue it.
I’ve taken up power dog-walking lately. Jacky, my granddaughter’s golden retriever, is a noble beast, a trained service dog that stays in his service mode best when he’s walking really fast. Our own dog, Buddy, is a Jack Russell terrier (mostly) that we rescued when he was abandoned in our neighborhood. He’s much smaller than Jacky, but likes to keep the same 3.5-4 mph pace. At this clip, we’re all in the zone, focused on the walk itself and not too distracted by other dogs, in their case, or by mental wanderings, in mine.
"Not by might, nor by power, but through My spirit" - Zechariah 4:6, read on Shabbat Chanukah
There is no doubt that we, as women, have the ability to carry much and rest little. Whether we have families, or care for those around us, we are constantly in motion. Sometimes before we even realize where the day has gone, it is over. But how do we maintain the balance of giving light and being sure our cruise of oil doesn't run out? As the darkness of the winter season comes upon us, it can be difficult to motivate ourselves, let alone feel cheery. However, as bearers of the light of Mashiach, it is possible to dance like the flames of the candles and radiate light, as well as endure the challenges of our days beyond what we think is possible.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NIV)
1. Ophthalmology . pertaining to or having myopia; nearsighted.
2. unable or unwilling to act prudently; shortsighted.
3. lacking tolerance or understanding; narrow-minded.
Then a certain sage arose to test him and said, “Teacher, what should I do to take possession of eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Torah? How do you read it?” He answered and said, “Love HaShem your God with all of your with all of your soul, and with all of your strength, and with all of your knowledge [Devarim 6:5], and your fellow as yourself” [Vayikra He said to him, “You have answered well. Do this and live.”
He desired to justify himself so he said to Yeshua, “Who is my fellow?”
Yeshua answered and said, “A certain man went down from Yerushalayim to Yericho, and he fell victim to robbers. They stripped him, even wounding him, and they abandoned him. As he stood between death and life, they walked on. A certain kohen happened upon him going down that road. He saw him and passed over him. Likewise, a Levi came to the place and approached and saw him but passed over him. Then a Shomroni was walking on the road. He came upon him and saw him, and he felt moved. He approached him and bandaged his wounds and applied oil and wine to them. He had him ride on his animal, led him to the inn, and provided for him. The next day, when he traveled, he brought out two dinarim and gave them to the owner of the inn. He said, “Provide for him. Whatever else you spend on him I will repay you when I return.” Now, who of these three was a fellow in your eyes to the one who fell victim to the robbers?
He said, “The one who carried out the chesed.” Yeshua said to him, “Go and do likewise yourself.” – Matthew 10:25-37, DHE