Debra Darvickenhance your now in word and image
Because it’s time to reclaim the word that defines my co-religionists and me. The derogation and hatred embedded in the word “Jew” is so deep and so old that we Jews, more often than not, self-identify as Jewish not Jew. In naming this page J-E-W, I reclaim the word even as it discomfits me. The dashes signal that space for reclamation. The dashes signal to every Jew that the spaces are ours to fill, ours to define. It is for us to imbue the word with all that Jews strive for, and were commanded to be, since Moses stood on Mount Sinai.
One of the prayers in our morning liturgy gives gratitude for the renewal of each day. Among the fourteen phrases thanking God for our numerous blessings, one thanks the Divine for “providing for all my needs.” Whenever I recited this blessing, I would get to that line and acknowledge that my basic needs are met and so much more.
One of my teachers opened my eyes a bit wider by suggesting “all our needs” includes the stuff of life we say we need like a “hole in the head.” In other words those frustrations, accidents and devestations that befall us that we certainly don’t ask for and would never in a million years say we needed.
I acknowledge this is dicey philosophical territory. Does someone actually need a cancer diagnosis? A viscious frenemy or relative? Or, God forbid, the loss of a loved one? No. No. No. But really horrible stuff happens — to all of us. Six plus decades playing this game called Life and I recognize the painful experiences that have surely formed me and demanded of me growth and healing. I’ve railed at God plenty for “giving” me what I not only didn’t ask for but said up front I did not need in the least. Guess what? I got some of those too. Accepting them has brought insight and ultimately understanding.
The verse “who provides for all my needs” is followed by “who guides us on our path.” Perhaps this is intentional. When we’re shunted onto a painful path a little Divine guidance just might light the way.