Friday, January 1, 2010

Random Musing Before Shabbat – Vayekhi 5770 – Musing Block?

This is a difficult musing for me to write. If you’re a regular reader, you may have noticed I’ve missed writing the last few weeks-without even offering explanations. My apologies to you for that failure on my part.

My passion is waning. I seek solace in the words of Torah and prophets to little avail.  It is a crisis as much of lack of passion as it is a crisis of faith. Oh, that inner spark still burns – it is there, I can feel it. Yet the pilot light seems unable to light the big burner.

Now, some of this is surely attributable to circumstances. Being out of work for many months. Finally, seeing no prospect of real work in the Jewish world, I accepted a new position that harkens back to my earlier career in technical theater – only this time it will be technical cinema. I am the new Technical Director/Head Projectionist for Amherst Cinema Arts center, which operates two first-run independent small multi-venue film cinemas – one in Amherst and one in Northampton, MA. As with my previous work in the theatre, my new job will make it challenging to be as fully observant of Shabbat and holidays as I might wish (although, truth be told, having not found a congregation since we moved here to Amherst that truly feels like a good match, I have found my own commitment to observance waning.

So between the time and challenges of starting up in a new position, what little passion I yet have for Judaism, Jewish learning, and Jewish education have been unable to stir me enough to actually sit down, study Torah, and write a weekly musing.

I’ve written before about the end of the book of Bereshit being a threshold. Had we not settled in Egypt, we might not be a people today.

I was frightened of the thresholds before me. I wanted so desperately to find full-time Jewish work, I kept avoiding other doorways that opened to me. Only when I felt I needed to make a choice did I finally cross this new threshold. That it is not to say that I am unhappy with my choice, or that I made the choice out of total desperation. The arts have been as much a part of my life as my Judaism, and for a longer time.

It’s quite possible that being away from being a full-time professional Jew will actually serve to increase my passion and desire to be actively Jewish. (At least, that’s a fantasy I’d like to come true.) I fear being drawn further and further away from my Jewish world, because I recognize that, even though I may  not currently be deriving the sustenance (literally and figuratively) that I need from it, it has, and can continue to provide me with sustenance of a figurative kind and a literal kind.

I’m not a truly bold person, and I’m somewhat risk averse. I say to myself that there I things I could do to find a way to live full-time through Jewish work if I wanted to do so. Thus I wind up questioning my own desire to do so. It’s a vicious circle.

I searched and searched the words of this weeks parasha and haftarah looking for inspiration, seeking a connection to what I am now writing. They have eluded me so far, except for that tangential reference to the end of Bereshit being a threshold point.

I’m not going to give up. I am going to keep searching the text for inspiration. It may come, it may not. The question for me is how I respond if it does not. Do I have the will to try yet again? Can I find a way to get the spark to light the burner?

Now here, finally, is a connection. You, dear readers, are often a source of my inspiration. So these words which we traditionally say when we reach the end of a book of the Torah ring out loud and clear to me as a sign:

Khakzak, Khazak, v’nitkhazek.
Be strong, be strong, and we will be strengthened. (Thanks, Julie, for that ever-so-useful-translation from your music!)

Next week, we begin a new book. Perhaps I will begin anew as well. We shall see.

Shabbat Shalom,

©2010 by Adrian A. Durlester


Unknown said...

Thank you Adrian!

I often struggle with the same issues and wonder about living bachazara ba'aretz. :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you know that if you were in a larger Jewish community (and in any reasonable version of our economy) you would be fully employed. That's not to say you wouldn't still be struggling or searching...I think that's normal. Judaism is a lifelong relationship, like family, and it makes sense that what you need from it (and perhaps what it needs from you) isn't static.

BJENY-SAJES and JESNA's Lippman Kanfer Institute said...

I hope you don't mind that I cross posted to your blog entry which I found to be very powerful and troubling.

Good Luck and don't give up the search.

ps I am not as optimistic as homeshuling

Peter Eckstein said...

Hey Adrian,

Good luck in what comes next. I hope you're having fun doing what you're doing now. I hope you are still growing. I hope to read more of your thoughts in the cloud.

Thanks for your wisdom.