Tag Archives: wonder

Happy Thanksgivukkah

WonderAmazement never ceases for the enlightened mind.

At every moment it views in astonishment the wonder of an entire world renewed out of the void, and asks, “How could it be that anything at all exists?”

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Wonder”
Chabad.org

As you read this, it is Thanksgiving, an American national holiday dedicated to giving thanks for the bountiful blessings we have each received from God. At least that’s how it was originally conceived. It’s also the first full day of Chanukah (spellings vary), the Jewish holiday celebrating the miracle of the meager Jewish forces defeating the mighty Greeks, and that in sanctifying the Temple, Hashem, God of Israel, allowed one day’s worth of sanctified oil to burn for eight days, thus cleansing and dedicating the Temple for holiness.

Thankfulness and miracles. And yet how often do we fail to appreciate what God gives us, especially in a land of plenty.

I’ve been pondering my conversations with my Pastor as well as the sermons of John MacArthur and the other presenters at the Strange Fire conference. In my recent investigation into the concept (as opposed to the movement) of Christian fundamentalism, I see that at its heart, it is just the attempt to render a basic definition of the essentials of what makes a Christian. It’s the minimum set of standards, so to speak, that one must uphold to be an authentic believer.

Of course, in order to create a minimum set of essential beliefs or attributes, you have to take the vast body of information in the Bible and reduce it down to its bare bones, so to speak. You have to determine what is an absolute must about the Bible, and then consider that most of the other “stuff” is good, but not a deal making or breaking requirement.

But that’s also one of the flaws in Christian fundamentalism. It’s reductionistic. It cuts out things like miracles, and wonder, and awe, and amazement in an incredible, infinite, personal, creative God!

In establishing a core, fundamentalism must eliminate or at least set to one side, thoughts, feelings, and meditations such as those expressed in the above-quoted words of Rabbi Freeman.

Is it wrong to be astonished by God? Is it an error to be thankful for not only the tangibles of the Bible, but the sheer fact that God exists and chooses to be involved in our lives just because He loves us?

For Jewish people, awareness of God goes beyond the generic thanksgiving for the blessings of Heaven. The very fact that Jews exist in our world today after so many thousands of years of effort the world has expended in trying to exterminate them, is a very great miracle.

We say every day during Chanukah in the Shemona Esrei the Al Haneesim (on the miracles), “When the wicked Greek kingdom rose up against Your people Israel to make them forget Your Torah and compel them to stray from the statutes of Your Will.” The order of the prayer mentions that first the Greeks wanted the Jews to forget Torah and secondly to stray from Hashem’s statutes.

The Greeks understood exactly how to undermine Judaism and expedite assimilation. How was this done? The Gemara in Hureous states that a father has an obligation to teach his son Torah from the moment he is old enough to speak. The first pasuk of Torah that a father teaches his child is,”Moshe commanded us with the Torah and this is the heritage of the congregation of Yaakov.” The second pasuk a father is obligated to teach his child is the Shema – “Hear, O Israel: Hashem is our G-d, Hashem, the One and Only.” – Which asserts our belief in the unity of G-d.

-Rabbi Yosef Kalatsky
“The Light of Torah: The Torah Sustains Judaism”
Commentary on Chanukah and Torah Portion Miketz
Torah.org

Tefillin with RabanI know that a lot of Christians support the existence of the Jewish people and Israel, and yet devalue the practice and observance of Judaism. A lot of prejudice has been generated in Christianity against Judaism over the long centuries, and particularly the mistaken idea that much of the Torah represents not the Word of God, but the man-made traditions of the Rabbis. Further, the general (and again, mistaken) belief in the Church that God only gave the Jewish people the Torah to prove to them that no one can attain righteousness by human effort and that they must depend on the grace of Jesus for salvation, re-enforces the idea that Torah observance and therefore Judaism is a “religion of useless works.”

It is beyond imagination to most Christians how a Jew who has faith in Yeshua as Messiah and thus is saved by grace, can still desire and even demand to continue observing the mitzvot and align with the larger, non-believing Jewish community.

But, as Rabbi Kalatsky points out, or at least as I infer from his commentary, God gave the Torah to Israel to sustain Israel, to define and preserve the Jewish people. Being Jewish isn’t just a string of DNA and it’s not just a set of ethnic practices, customs, traditions, and rules, it’s an identity, a life, and a continual experience assigned to the Jewish people by God. A Jew who doesn’t observe the mitzvot is still Jewish of course, but the full blessings and apprehension of the unique relationship between Jewish people and God can only come from a life immersed in Torah and in Judaism. And Rabbi Kalatsky is hardly the only one to make such observations.

It was Judaism that provided the refuge for my parents in the disorienting passage from one society to another. My father’s rabbinic calling transcended borders. Hebrew remained the key to eternal verities. The Jewish calendar continued to govern the rhythm of our home. I never heard my parents lament the money they were forbidden to take out of (1940s) Germany, only the shipment of books from my father’s library that never made it to America.

-Ismar Schorsch
“At-Homeness,” pg 149, December 8, 2001
Commentary on Torah Portion Vayeishev
Canon Without Closure: Torah Commentaries

As I write all this, I find it strange and even amazing that I, a Gentile Christian, can feel so passionate about supporting a Jewish life abundantly enriched by the Torah of God.

Many Christians see Judaism in more or less the same way I see some fundamentalist Christians: as a faith made up of discrete, definable, finite, quantifiable pieces. A faith that is like listening to an auto mechanic explain what each of the parts of your car’s engine does, who takes it apart, shows you each gasket, spring, and fitting, then puts it all together right before your eyes and starts it up for you. Sure, it’s incredible and amazing, but it is also fully within the grasp of human beings.

Is that all that God is? Is He nothing more?

Consider three things, and you will not approach sin. Know whence you came, whereto you are going, and before Whom you are destined to give an accounting.

-Ethics of the Fathers 3:1

If we thought about our humble origin on the one hand, and the greatness we can achieve on the other, we would come to only one logical conclusion: the potential for such greatness could not possibly reside in the microscopic germ-cell from which we originated. This capacity for greatness can reside only in the neshamah (soul), the spirit which God instills within man.

What an extraordinary stretching of the imagination it must take to think that a single cell can develop into the grandeur which a human being can achieve! People have the power to contemplate and reflect upon infinity and eternity, concepts which are totally beyond the realm of the physical world. How could something purely finite even conceive of infinity?

Our humble origins are the greatest testimony to the presence of a Divine component within man. Once we realize this truth, we are unlikely to contaminate ourselves by behavior beneath our dignity. We have an innate resistance to ruining what we recognize to be precious and beautiful. We must realize that this is indeed what we are.

Today I shall…

…try to make my behavior conform to that which I recognize to be the essence of my being: the spirit that gives me the potential for greatness.

-Rabbi Abraham J. Twersky
“Growing Each Day, Kislev 20”
Aish.com

This too is Judaism; the recognition that it is God’s Spirit that imbues us with the ability to strive to be more than who we are right now.

Hashem, what is man that You recognize him; the son of a frail human that You reckon with him? Man is a breath; his days are like a passing shadow.

Psalm 144:3-4 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

sky-above-you-god1David, a King, a man after God’s own heart, gazed up in wonder that God took any notice of human beings at all. Why don’t we do the same? Why can’t we turn our hearts away from our trivial pursuits and in thanksgiving, awe, and wonder, turn to the majesty and magnificence of the One true King of the Universe, Lord and Master of Eternity, and the lover of our very souls? For as much as the food on our tables, and our jobs, and our families, and all that God’s providence has placed in our lives, wonder too is a gift of God.

And when Thanksgiving and Hanukkah coincide we find ourselves doubly blessed. We will be able to offer thanks to God on the same day for both our spiritual and material blessings. Let us delight in this extremely rare opportunity to bless God for the food for our bodies as well as the survival of our faith that grants us spiritual sustenance for our souls.

-Rabbi Benjamin Blech
“Thanksgivukkah”
Aish.com

I’m writing this a full week before you’ll read it. Perhaps you’ll wake up early on Thanksgiving morning and read this “meditation” with your first cup of coffee, or while the turkey is baking and there’s a lull in the kitchen activity, or later, after the meal and the football games are over, as the pumpkin pie is settling in your stomach and you hold a glass of wine in your hand, but I have a hope for the day you read this. I hope that you’ll take a moment, turn away from your computer, maybe close your eyes or turn your gaze to Heaven, and know that you are in front of the Throne of God, a God who loves you, a God you provides, not only for your body, but for everything you can imagine, and for everything you can’t.

Happy Thanksgivukkah.

Seeking Out a Greater Imagination

“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Seek what they sought.”

-Matsuo Basho

Rabbi Sholom Ber of Lubavitch used to say that if the hedonists would know the ecstasy of mystic union, they would instantly drop all their worldly pleasures and chase after it.

It is not just pleasure. It is the source of all pleasures.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Paradise”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

I recently had a discussion with an (apparent) atheist in the comments section of one of my blog posts. As with many other Christian/Atheist discussions on the web, he found Christianity wanting due to its lack of morality. That generally means “lack of morality” as progressive secular humanism defines the term (and the definition tends to shift over time). But is the sole reason for someone to become a person of faith or a person of faithlessness to gain a sense of morality and ethics?

Probably not. At its core, I think a person selects one system of philosophy or theology over another in an attempt to seek a reason for existence. Rabbi David Hartman in his book A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism (chapter 9) says it this way:

As history has shown, the human being is not only a fact-seeking animal, but equally and possibly more so, a value-hungry individual seeking direction and significance in life. We hunger for a frame of reference that orders and orients everyday existence into some meaningful pattern. In spite of the extreme importance of facts, their range does not exhaust the sources from which one constructs a vision of life that gives meaning and direction to existence.

Beyond the quest to determine the moral relativity of right and wrong, and even beyond the desire to understand the nature of the universe, its origins and its development, is the overwhelming desire of human beings to seek out and discover themselves. This is perhaps the greatest mystery within our awareness, greater than the origin of life and greater than the scope of the cosmos.

Who are we? Why are we here? Is this all there is? Is there something more?

I was recently watching the first part of a two-part episode of Star Trek: Voyager called “Scorpion”. The starship Voyager was about to enter an area of space dominated by the Borg, which is a highly malevolent cybernetic race and mortal enemies of the Federation. It is the only path Voyager can take to make it back to the Alpha Quadrant and home.

The Borg are under attack by an equally malevolent race of beings from a realm outside our universe who are referred to only as “species 8472.” The destruction caused by the war between the Borg and species 8472 is vast and multiple star systems have been destroyed in its wake. If Captain Kathryn Janeway (played by Kate Mulgrew) orders Voyager to go forward, the ship and everyone on board will be annihilated. If she turns the ship around to ensure everyone’s safety, she must admit that she will never get her crew home. She’s trapped in an endless loop of guilt and remorse, because it was her decision to save an alien race that stranded the Voyager crew over 70,000 light years away from home nearly four years ago.

As a diversion, Janeway had previously programmed a holodeck simulation of Leonardo da Vinci (played by the acclaimed British actor John Rhys-Davies) and his workshop environment. Janeway takes on the role of Master da Vinci’s student in order to relax, work on various art projects, and be inspired by a holographic replica of one of history’s most innovative creators. In the throes of despair, as Voyager is poised to either move forward to destruction or turn back in defeat, Janeway makes a midnight visit to the Master’s studio seeking a solution she cannot find within the limits of her own resources.

She finds da Vinci sitting in his darkened studio, softly illuminated by dozens of candles, staring at light and shadow as they play upon a blank wall. Janeway sits with him and asks him what he sees. da Vinci (Rhys-Davies) responds:

A flock of starlings; the leaves of an oak; a horse’s tail; a thief, with a noose around his neck… Uh… And a wall, with the candlelight reflecting on it. There are times, Katarina, when I find myself transfixed by a shadow on the wall, or the splashing of water against a stone. I stare at it, the hours pass, the world around me drops away, replaced by worlds being created and destroyed by my imagination. A way to focus the mind.

Out of desperation, with all other options exhausted, Janeway turns to this computer generated simulation of one of the world’s finest minds and imaginations and opens her soul to him.

There’s a path before me – the only way home. And on either side, mortal enemies bent on destroying each other. If I attempt to pass through them, I’ll be destroyed as well. But if I turn around – that would end all hope of ever getting home. And no matter how much I try to focus my mind, I can’t see an alternative.

Then da Vinci replies in a way I found absolutely fascinating, especially since Janeway has always been played as a pragmatic atheist (and after all, she programmed da Vinci).

When one’s imagination cannot provide an answer, one must seek out a greater imagination. There are times when even I find myself kneeling in prayer.

I’m sorry to take you through a mini-tour of one of my favorite Voyager stories (especially if you’re not a Star Trek fan) but this is the point I was building up to. This is what we as human beings are seeking; a greater imagination. I don’t mean one that we can possess, but something beyond ourselves and our reality. Janeway and Voyager are exploring the galaxy, or a non-trivial part of it, as they attempt to travel 70,000 light years from the Delta Quadrant back to the Alpha Quadrant and Earth, but the real journey; the human journey is far more wondrous and vast.

The human journey is the attempt to travel beyond the limits of observation, science, and the very conceptualization of a physical and temporal reality and to find what lies beyond, which must surely be a greater creative imagination than ours and the One who is responsible for everything we now experience.

On a website called The God Debates, a discussion on a cause for the universe’s existence is going on (as I write this). I seriously doubt that the matter will be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction, but the need to have this discussion is completely human and shows us how much we need to seek out “a greater imagination.” An even more unusual example of this is a story at Jewish Ideas Daily called Disturbing the Universe. This is Kabbalah scholar Daniel Matt’s review of cosmologist Lawrence M. Krauss’s new book, A Universe from Nothing: why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing. In the same article, Matt reviews Alan Lightman’s new novel Mr g: A Novel About the Creation. An article where a Kabbalah scholar reviews both a very serious book on cosmology and a seemingly light-hearted but compelling work of fiction on God and Creation? Definitely worth a read.

However, why does one person seek the limits of the universe in a microscope, a telescope, in a chemistry class, in an archaeological dig, or using the cutting-edge tools of physicists? Why does another person seek to escape the limits of the universe entirely and encounter the infinite wonder that lies beyond the scope of the mechanisms mankind feebly constructs with flesh and blood hands?

Maybe sub-atomic particles and a vast, expanding universe are the only wonders that exist, but I certainly hope not. If it is true that this is all there is and there is nothing more, then everything mysterious, wonderful, and astounding about our existence is potentially within man’s grasp and one day, there will be no more mysteries. The universe will be “solved” and man will reach the end of his own adventure and become his own “god” (if he hasn’t already).

But in seeking God, man longs to go beyond the possible and to engage a mystery that can never be solved. But that’s the greatness of spiritual man: the need, the desire, and drive to seek out the impossible and to experience even the briefest glimpse of the unseeable, the untouchable, the unknowable.

In seeking God, man approaches the real purpose of his being. This is what pushes us past the barriers of despair, loneliness, hardship, and torture. This is why man endures. This is why man achieves. Without the search for God, man’s labors are no more significant than an ant pushing a bread crumb across a dirt lot, regardless of the illusion of “greatness” we bestow upon ourselves.

Some abandon the covenant after the death of a single loved one, but others retain belief in God’s love for and commitment to themselves despite having lost their whole family in the Holocaust. One human being leaves Auschwitz an atheist and another as a person whose belief has grown stronger.

-Hartman

I suppose there are many cynical explanations for why a person who has suffered incredible horrors would retain a faith in God and even increase that faith in the shadow of Auschwitz, or a dying child, or a body shattered in war. Some more “enlightened” individuals accuse us of needing a “crutch” as if atheism is far more courageous and noble. But I don’t think it’s a matter of courage and nobility, and I can’t really say what it is that causes one person to deny God and another to seek him out, even sometimes at the cost of his own life.

The best I can see is that, like John Rhys-Davies’s version of Leonardo da Vinci, even when it seems to defy the person we think we are, we absolutely need to seek out a greater imagination than our own. We find ourselves seeking it and Him by kneeling in prayer.

It is only God who makes it possible for a human being to search for that which exists in a place no man can reach or touch or see. But that’s where we will find Him…and us.

 

Rediscovering Awe

WonderThe presence of Mashiach is revealed on Acharon Shel Pesach, and this revelation has relevance to all Israel: Pesach is medaleg, “skipping over” (rather than orderly progress), and leil shimurim, the “protected night.” In general the mood of Pesach is one of liberty. Then Pesach ends, and we find ourselves tumbling headlong into the outside world. This is where Mashiach’s revealed presence comes into play – imbuing us with a powerful resoluteness that enables us to maintain ourselves in the world.

-from Torah lesson: Chumash: Acharei Mot, Revi’i with Rashi
Compiled and arranged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 5703 (1943)
from the talks and letters of the sixth Chabad Rebbe
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory
Translated by Yitschak Meir Kagan

This is very much what I said in yesterday’s morning meditation, so why am I repeating myself? I don’t feel like it’s time to let go of this theme and move on. I am still passing from one state to another, like the season passing from winter to spring.

I mowed and edged my lawn for the first time this year just the other day. Thanks to my previous application of fertilizer, the lawn, especially in some areas, had grown quite tall and green. Things were a little “out of control,” but nothing my trusty lawn mower and I couldn’t handle.

But I find that I’m not ready for spring yet. I still want to dress in warm sweaters and heavy coats against the winter’s chill. I’d just as soon Persephone stay with her husband Pluto in the underworld for a month or two longer, rather than rejoin her mother Demeter in the world above (if you’ll pardon my momentary lapse into Greek mythology). I suppose having “failed” Passover this year, I’d just as soon not have to surrender the commemoration of redemption and hope, for leaving it behind is like leaving my sense of renewal undone and incomplete.

But time and the will of God does not bend to the desires and laments of man, and so spring has come, Passover has ended, and it’s time to mow the lawn, again. As I “tumble headlong” into the world after Pesach, I can only hope and pray that the “revealed presence” of the Messiah will indeed imbue me with “a powerful resoluteness that” enables me to “maintain myself in the world” beyond.

In my elementary attempts at learning acceptance and reaching for the “peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension” (Philippians 4:7 ESV), I find that I have no choice but to surrender myself to not only the Almighty, but to whatever circumstances He allows in my life. But in the end, surrender is part of what He wants from me…and perhaps from all of us.

With this preparedness to surrender his soul to G-d, one should begin to recite the morning benedictions: “Blessed are You…,”

Now, all one’s intent in the surrender of his soul to G-d through Torah and prayer, to elevate the spark of G-dliness therein — in the soul — back to its source, should be solely for the purpose of causing Him gratification, like the joy of a king when his only son returns to him, after having been released from captivity or imprisonment…

-Likutei Amarim, end of Chapter 41

It seems that being released from captivity does not necessarily require a “feeling” but only the act and the will to surrender to God…to study…to pray…and to move on beyond failures, real or perceived. It requires that I find the ability to reach inside and to discover a new or renewed service to God apart from how I may feel about anything else.

If you are serving the same G-d today as you served yesterday, who are you serving but yourself?

Can G-d be frozen and defined? Does He get older with each day? Does He eventually, then, become of a relic of the past?

Where there is love and where there is awe, each day brings a discovery of endless wonder.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“No Repeats”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

With each dawn, God is new, and so is my potential for the discovery of awe and an endless wonder in Him.

Wonder

WonderWonder or radical amazement is the chief characteristic of the religious man’s attitude toward history and nature. One attitude is alien to his spirit: taking things for granted, regarding events as a natural course of things. To find an approximate cause of a phenomenon is no answer to his ultimate wonder. He knows that there are laws that regulate the course of natural processes; he is aware of the regularity and pattern of things. However, such knowledge fails to mitigate his sense of perpetual surprise at the fact that there are facts at all. Looking at the world he would say, “This is the Lord’s doing, it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalms 118:23).

Abraham Joshua Heschel
God in Search of Man : A Philosophy of Judaism
pg 45

Astronomers have combined two decades of Hubble observations to make unprecedented movies revealing never-before-seen details of the birth pangs of new stars. This sheds new light on how stars like the Sun form…The movies reveal the motion of the speedy outflows as they tear through the interstellar environments. Never-before-seen details in the jets’ structure include knots of gas brightening and dimming and collisions between fast-moving and slow-moving material, creating glowing arrowhead features. These phenomena are providing clues about the final stages of a star’s birth, offering a peek at how the Sun behaved 4.5 billion years ago.

“Hubble movies provide unprecedented view of supersonic jets from young stars”
Physorg.com

How do you combine these two quotes together? Can you see the hand of God in “energetic jets of glowing gas traveling at supersonic speeds in opposite directions through space?” I can. It’s not always easy, though. Building somewhat on yesterday’s morning meditation, we live in a world that strives to explain everything in terms of naturally occurring events. Nothing is amazing or astounding anymore, it’s just stuff that can be explained by science. But according to Heschel, just because you can explain something takes nothing away from the wonder of it being a creation of God.

Religious people and particularly “fundamentalist” Christians tend to take the opposite approach. They find wonder in all of God’s creation but see science as the enemy of God. Any scientific analysis of observable phenomenon is considered a denial of God’s existence. It’s only a miracle if it remains unexplained in terms of it’s physical, chemical, or electrical properties. Of course, by that thinking, we wouldn’t have the study of medicine which saves so many lives. We wouldn’t have the existence of the Internet which gives us virtually instantaneous access to information that would otherwise take weeks or months for us to locate. We would probably still think the Sun circled the earth and that God made the world as flat as a pizza.

Science is a tool and like any tool, it can be used and misused. In the post-modern era, scientific inquiry is often used as a tool to “prove” that everything in existence has a “natural” origin and that the universe doesn’t require a supernatural agent to explain its formation (and never mind that no scientific inquiry can adequately explain how the universe came into being in the first place). Yet science as a method of investigation, is amoral. It’s neither good nor bad. It simply is (at its most basic level) a set of steps that tells us how to look at something with as much objectivity as possible so we can learn what it is without tainting the conclusions with our own intervention and personality.

That’s of course, if it’s used correctly and with its original intent. Human beings have a tendency to abuse tools in order to acquire the results they believe fits their best interests, the truth not withstanding.

Even if used correctly though, scientific inquiry can have an unintended side effect. It can dull wonder, as Heschel states (pg 46):

As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. Mankind will not perish for want of information; but only for want of appreciation. The beginning of our happiness lies in the understanding that life without wonder is not worth living. What we lack is not a will to believe but a will to wonder.

What a hideous way to exist. Nothing is amazing. Nothing is fantastic. No event leads us into the presence of sheer awe at the glory of God’s works. That is such a sad and sorry way to live.

OceanThere are atheists who are proud to call themselves by that name and who marvel at mankind’s genius as it progresses toward a higher and enlightened scientific and social order. As the last gene becomes identified and mapped and the last star in the galaxy becomes classified and planets made of diamonds are cataloged, it all is taken in stride and in self-satisfaction. But it’s all so empty without God, for whose glory creation exists.

Heschel wonders why a “scientific theory, once it is announced and accepted, does not have to be repeated” but observant Jews continue to pray the Shema twice daily saying “He is One”. The reason this is done is because the “insights of wonder must be constantly kept alive. Since there is a need for daily wonder, there is a need for daily worship.”

Heschel continues (page 49):

The sense for the “miracles that are daily with us,” the sense for the “continual marvels,” is the source of prayer. There is no worship, no music, no love, if we take for granted the blessings or defeats of living…Even on performing a physiological function we say “Blessed be Thou…who healest all flesh and doest wonders.”

Where is your sense of wonder? Perhaps it is doing well each day but if not, there is a way to inspire yourself. You don’t have to wait. Just start “doing” wonder. It’s like praying twice daily. Even if you don’t “feel” like it, the feeling doesn’t have to come before the doing:

People are not changed by arguments, nor by philosophy. People change by doing.

Introduce a new habit into your life, and your entire perspective of the world changes.

First do, then learn about what you are already doing.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Change by Doing”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe
Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

Do you need help? It’s available, in fact, no one can develop a true sense of God alone because God didn’t create us to be in the world alone. As Rabbi Freeman writes:

Each of us has deficiencies, but as a whole we are complete. Each one is perfected by his fellow, until we make a perfect whole.

What we have, we were given by God. The environment around us, our intelligence, our sense of wonder, others among us to complete us and encourage us. We need only take advantage of God’s gifts including the gift of prayer. We need never lose our sense of wonder in the universe or our awe in God. I suppose it’s why Jesus said this, for who but a child has the greatest sense of wonder at the world and beyond?

Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. –Matthew 18:3 (ESV)

Later today, I’ll post my commentary on this week’s Torah Portion Shoftim. Stay tuned.