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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Is Religion 'Post-Truth'?

Sometimes, during a synagogue service, something odd happens to me. I don’t know how frequent this is for others. One phrase from the texts, or just one word, jumps out of the general smooth surface of ‘blah’ that we are saying or singing and really catches my attention. Don’t misunderstand me – of course all the words we have in the prayer book are wonderful and thought-provoking and packed with meaning and relevance – know what I mean. They can float by us, or we can float away somewhere else while they are happening.

So what I’m talking about is that moment, that occasional experience, when something pokes through the surface same-old, same-old, blandness and really captures my attention, my imagination. Like being at sea and suddenly a dolphin leaps out, playful and attention-grabbing. Or maybe like the glint of a shark’s fin – and one senses there’s danger there. Sometimes the words in our liturgy invite us in to play; at other times they might contain hidden threats: they can bite us, confront us, endanger our wellbeing or our complacency.

This year the word that keeps getting at me is a little word that we say quite a lot, whether in the Hebrew or in the English. It’s the word emet – true/truth. “Your word is true forever”, “It is true that the Eternal God is our Sovereign”, “It is true that You are the Faithful One...who rescues and delivers us”, “The sound of the shofar breaks into our lives. It shatters our illusions and we awake to truth”. Emet – dolphin or shark?
What kind of truth are these texts proclaiming, exposing us to?  do the truth claims hold up, or do they expose themselves to ridicule? “It is true that You are the Faithful One...who rescues and delivers us” – how do we, after the Shoah, get away with this? What kind of ‘truth’ is this, that we repeat day in day out, year in year out, during our services? What sense does it have? What sense do we make of it?

So, I’m setting my stall out right now. The ‘truth’ stall. There’s a lot of examples on display here, vying for attention. And I’ll come back to them. But I’m going to set out another market stall next to it. And let’s call this other stall by the term that during this last year was named ‘Word of the Year’ by the Oxford Dictionaries: yes, it’s our old-new favourite word: ‘post-truth’. Let’s have a look what’s on the ‘post-truth’ stall.  

You know what will come to mind first, I imagine. Trump and his ‘alternative facts’ - and the finger-in-his-ears, la-la land of his internal world which calls ‘fake news’ anything  he doesn’t want to hear. Many politicians – including not a few American Presidents (remember Nixon?) – bend the truth (which is sometimes complex), or avoid the inconvenient truths, but Trump is gruesomely fascinating in being the first one who seems genuinely to revel in lying. Which includes lying to himself - which we all might do on occasion, but he’s made it into a defining character trait. In doing so he’s creating a ‘post-truth’ presidency based on feelings (his own unregulated, erratic  and narcissistic feelings) rather than facts.

So Trump is an easy target. Our first exhibit on the ‘post-truth’ stall. I probably shares pride of place with that other phenomenon that possibly comes to mind when we think about what might be displayed on the ‘post-truth’ stall: Brexit and that notorious £350 million a week figure, on the side of the VoteLeave bus, that would be freed up for the NHS once we left the EU; or the perhaps more pernicious ‘post-truth’ claim by Farage and others that Turkey would be joining the EU in 2020 and this would allow 70 million-plus sexually-predatory Muslim terrorists into the UK.

These are obvious examples of ‘post-truth’ phenomena in our current landscape. But I’m sure anyone reading this you could add items to the ‘post-truth’ inventory. Because ‘post-truth’ claims have been around for a long time, almost as long as recorded human history - if by ‘post-truth’ we mean, as the Oxford English Dictionary now defines it: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.

So the infamous Russian anti-Semitic pamphlet of 1903,'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion', describing a Jewish plan for global domination, would be a classic example of a ‘post-truth’ document; as would the blood libels issued verbally against Jews for the 800 years before that. Jews have particular historical reasons to be sensitive to, and to call out, ‘post-truth’ texts and claims. They are always dangerous to - and sometimes deadly to - someone’s wellbeing, individual or group.

The more you think about it, the more you can see how much we are surrounded by ‘post-truth’. The advertising industry used to be built on it – though there’s regulation now to mitigate some of the more slippery bits of ‘truthiness’. Newspapers are full of it, some more than others: I name no names - on this occasion.

But if we are thinking about what in our world relates to or denotes  “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”, what about religion? With that definition the New Testament and the Gospels would be completely ‘post-truth’ documents  – naked appeals to emotion and personal belief. So what about (closer to home) the Hebrew Bible, the Tanach, the Torah – is this just another ‘post-truth’ text?

God making the world in 6 days? Adam and Eve? Truth or ‘post-truth’? The patriarchs and matriarchs - are they real historical figures (“objective facts”), or creations of the literary imagination of inspired national storytellers? The Exodus from Egypt of 600,000 Hebrew slaves, crossing the Red Sea; Moses receiving Torah at Sinai? Truth or ‘post-truth’? Are you shifting uneasily in your seats? I hope so.

Suddenly our two market stalls – truth and ‘post-truth’ – seem to be uncomfortably close together. In fact – interesting phrase: ‘in fact’ – what’s on display on them may be getting all jumbled up. We need to do some sorting out here. I’m not claiming that my perspective is the ‘truth’, by the way - but it’s not ‘post-truth’ either. Let’s just call what I’m saying provisional signposts towards what’s ‘true’. 

The fundamental point about the word ‘true’ or truth’ – and the word emet in Hebrew - is that it covers two rather different kinds of human experience. One kind of experience, and we are immersed in this, is about facts, reason, logic, the mind, scientific understanding, mathematical understanding. It is true that 2 + 2 = 4; the capital of France is Paris; Auschwitz was an extermination camp with gas chambers; penicillin was discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928 at St.Mary’s Hospital here in London [although in the service of 'truth' it needs to be said that although he was the first to grow the culture of the mold involved, it wasn't until Howard Florey and Ernst Chain took up research on it 10 year later that it became available to be used for human immunization]; there was once a king of the Hebrew people called David who ruled from Jerusalem.   All of these are true – there is evidence of different kinds to back up their claims to being true. And a million other examples could be set out on our truth stall. 

But none of them in and of themselves offer meaning in our lives - and although some people are happy to live in a world just of facts and statistics, others of us are interested in questions of meaning and purpose: a world where we need comfort after someone dies, where we need hope when things look dark, where we feel there is value in our activities and relationships - a world of emotional and spiritual realities that are true, or that we hold are true, in a quite different sense.

I don’t want to live only in a world of information and rational thinking where meaning can be found through a Google search - as important as that world is: I wouldn’t want to live in a world without penicillin, without the know-how to make that and a thousand other medicines, the result of a hundred and fifty years of rigorous truth-searching in chemistry and biology and so on.

The modern world – the world of electricity and  technology and scientific endeavour – is a wondrous human achievement. It is truth-seeking, finding answers to questions of ‘what?’ and ‘how?’ But it doesn’t address our human aspirations and dreams, and our innate human questions about ‘why?’, our questions about meaning. Why did that person have to die? or leave me? Why does she seem more popular than me? Why is he more successful than me? Why am I always struggling, or on the verge of tears? Why do they always seem so happy? Why am I moved when I see others’ suffering? Why am I not moved when I see others’ suffering?

For those kind of questions – and there’s a million of them - we need another kind of truth-telling: the truths contained in stories, in art, in novels, in myths, in psychology, in poetry, in – dare I say it - in religion, all of which create meaning . This other kind of truth is not rooted in historically accurate information but in the truth of the human spirit and the more elusive aspects of human experience. These kinds of truths can’t be proven rationally or arrived at scientifically.

You can’t prove that love is a more creative impulse for human society than hate; or that generosity is more life-enhancing than greed; or that compassion is a sounder basis for building a meaningful life than cruelty. These things are true, I would say, (although you can always find counter-examples) - but they aren’t true in the way that 2+2 = 4 is true. These truths don’t belong to the world of ‘logos’ but to the world of ‘mythos’ – this is the ancient Greek distinction between two kinds of truth, two categories of truth. And if we confuse these two categories we can end up in a lot of trouble. In the history of religion people got - and still get – oppressed, persecuted and killed because of the muddle between ‘logos’ and ‘mythos’.

Nowadays the word ‘myth’ has lost its original meaning. When we say something’s ‘a bit of a myth’, we tend to mean it’s not true; it’s even come to mean that something is a lie. But it’s a real shame – and sometimes a tragedy – that ‘myth’ has lost its original meaning of a narrative or story that offered meaning to human life, that gave a perspective on values, that created a container, a framework, to help us think about the purposes of human life and family life and social, community life; ‘mythic thinking’ generated  narratives and stories that spoke about the daily dramas and dynamics of our lives, and the fragility of all human life, and animal life, and natural life on this irreplaceable, extraordinary planet, a cosmic speck in the universe.    

I think there’s a lot of confusion between these two kinds of truth - ‘mythic’ truth and ‘rational’ truth, if we use a shorthand. If you read the opening chapters of Genesis through the lens of rational truth, we can see that it is absurd, in the light of scientific knowledge, to believe that the world was created in 6 days. Some people of course do believe in that literal understanding of the text. But as a poetic myth, the story of how humanity emerged as part of an evolving process, stage by stage, which then moved generation by generation into family groups, then tribal groups, each with their own identity and purpose, and we trace how the Hebrew Bible’s ‘mythos’ develops its story with this small undistinguished  Hebrew tribe finding itself with a value system and a destiny to live out certain  values and be an inspiration and model for other tribes and nations – wow, this is another kind of truth-telling; and we find we are in the middle of a truth-creating story, a truth-revealing story, a story about meaning and purpose, in which we can, and still do, locate our own lives.

So that when we read in our liturgy now – the liturgy being the creation of generations of rabbinical writers who accepted that original ‘mythos’/truth-generating story as having something of value to shape their own lives – when we read the words they composed - “Your word is true forever”, “It is true that the Eternal God is our Sovereign”, “It is true that You are the Faithful One...” -then yes, our ‘logos’ mind can jump in and object ‘but this isn’t true, it’s not rational, it’s not scientific!’.We can get snagged on that part of us, like being in a wool jumper that gets snagged on barbed wire and starts to unravel - those internal (or external) ‘logos’ voices can pierce us and unravel our minds.

 But if our mythically-sensitive minds - otherwise known as our souls - wait a moment and allow the words in, allow them to breathe in us, to inspire us, allow their meaning-generating mythic wisdom to embrace us, hold us, then these words – words like “It is true that You are the Faithful One...”  - can cajole us, seduce us,  into inspecting our lives, and asking ‘what are we faithful to?’, ‘what do we value and hold dear?’

 “Your word is true forever”:  how can God’s ‘word’ - that is God’s ‘mythic’ truths , about justice and compassion and lovingkindness and generosity and mercy – how can they help shape our lives, our vision, our daily actions? These values aren’t post-truths. Care for the stranger, the outsider, the homeless, the impoverished – this is written into our ‘mythos’, the story the Jewish people has been telling itself for millennia.

They are the signposts that can give us direction, provisional signposts maybe – yet  still they are signposts towards what is true. These words, these teachings are – as in the title of the new exhibition by the American artist Jasper Johns at the Royal Academy – they are “Something Resembling Truth”; at least until anyone or anything can point us in a better direction towards what is emet, “true forever”. But after two and half millennia I’m not holding my breath for that to happen any time soon.

[adapted from a sermon given on the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah (New Year), at Finchley Reform Synagogue, September 22nd, 2017]

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Repairing What's Broken

I recently came across a delightful Japanese word, kint’suk’uroi – and realised how useful it was in helping me think about the themes of the Jewish New Year and Day of Atonement. It’s the word used for the Japanese art of repairing with gold, so that a broken artefact becomes more beautiful afterwards than it had been before it was broken.

This is the period of the Jewish year when the themes of mending what’s fractured in our lives, repairing the damage we have done to others and to ourselves, are highlighted by the tradition. This is the spiritual and psychological  work of what the tradition calls the ‘Days of Awe’.   
Judaism has its own language for this of course. Teshuvah, we are told, means to return, to repair, to restore – we may have harmed someone close to us, hurt them: are we able to have the humility, the courage, to admit this, to address this, to try to put something right in a relationship. We may have harmed a part of ourselves wittingly, or unwittingly – our bodies, our souls, our values, our vision, our integrity, our confidence, they can get damaged, battered by the stresses of everyday life. What do we need to repair, what can we repair? – these are the questions we wrestle with as the New Year approaches.
And they are hard questions. But kint’suk’uroi sets the bar higher than that – it’s an idea not just of repair (where the cracks might still show), but adding something in to make it more beautiful than it was before. With a ceramic pot this might be possible, and we may be ‘clay in the hands of the potter’ (i.e. God) as one of our medieval penitential poems puts it, but what if we have had a falling out with a friend, or a neighbour, or someone in our family, or someone at work? Are we really supposed not just to repair the relationship but make it better than it was before, more ‘beautiful’, as it were? Maybe patching things up is the best we can do. It’s a question – the kind of question we struggle with at this time of the year. 
This concept of kint’suk’uroi reminded me of a parable from the Maggid of Dubno (1740-1804) which tells of a king who had a beautiful diamond that was accidentally scratched. No jewellers were able to repair it, until one craftsman came and promised to make it even more beautiful than it had been originally. And this he did by engraving a rosebud around the imperfection - and using the scratch to make the stem.
The Dubner Maggid was an itinerant storyteller, maybe he’d been to Japan and pinched the idea – it’s not likely though – but his story is certainly a close relative of  kint’suk’uroi . Though psychologically it’s also subtly different. There’s  a difference between covering something over, covering it up, so you can’t see what’s happened, and thereby enhancing the whole object (or situation ), making it more beautiful – and keeping the scratch, the wound, visible (conscious, one could say) and part of a new picture which emerges around it, which can be built around it.
If there’s been a breakdown of trust in a relationship and yet the relationship is important enough to want to maintain it, the hurt has to be aired, it has to be acknowledged and light thrown on it, and if things go well  that old hurt might lessen in its painfulness. But it may be better not to pretend it hasn’t happened. Ideally it can become part of the next stage in the relationship. “Do you remember that time when you did that? And how upset I was? Well it’s still there, I haven’t forgotten, but I’m glad that  we have moved on, built something else...”
But there is an art in doing this – building and repairing relationships – and not everyone is an artist. Or wants to be. There’s also pleasure in destruction, in smashing up crockery, in breaking things – and sometimes relationships, situations, need to be broken, or destroyed. Where there’s abuse or injustice, oppression, victimisation, or a psychological habit that persecutes us  – the energy needs to go into breaking what’s there, not repairing it.
So where does that leave us? Brokenness, repairing damage, letting the scratches, the hurts, the wounds show - or soldering something over them. These are the metaphors I find myself playing with as we start this annual pilgrimage once more. The soul’s journey of return, or renewal (teshuvah).
The other sentiment that kint’suk’uroi reminded me of is the saying by the  Kotzker Rebbe (1787-1859): “There is nothing as whole as a broken heart”. That’s a hard one. I’m not sure I can quite inhabit it. I’m not sure I believe it - or want to believe it. It sounds as if it could be a very profound spiritual or psychological understanding – or a very trite one. I’m not sure. Maybe it depends on who says it, and when . I know it’s not something I’d ever say to someone who was broken-hearted.
It’s so paradoxical  - “There is nothing as whole as a broken heart” – so counterintuitive: if you are feeling broken-hearted - if you have lost someone you love, or you have lost your home, or your homeland, or your work, or you are seriously, maybe terminally ill, if you are feeling completely bereft, broken - is it a comfort to be told by an outsider that, “There is nothing as whole as a broken heart”? Or would you want to hit them? I don’t know.
Yes, there is an integrity to upset, fully felt; distress that overwhelms the heart; grief that rends the soul – these pain-filled states of being, of mind, are real, unquestionably, our naked humanity and fragility exposed. There is an integrity to these experiences (and we hope, we pray, that we are spared too many of them in our lives), but we don’t feel “whole” when we are going through them:  we feel empty, and despairing, and hopeless and angry. We don’t feel “whole”  with our broken heart – we feel in pieces. 
I don’t know why I wanted to talk about this. Or why I am talking about this theme in this way. I intuit - or maybe I just hope - that something in what I am saying connects to some of you, connects to what you might have struggled with this past year, or be struggling with now in your lives.
I suppose I’m trying to dig down into an aspect of teshuvah, this word that we repeat over and over at this time of the year, like  a mantra, almost until it loses any meaning. I suppose I’m drilling down into it to see what the inner dimensions of this returning, repairing, might look like, feel like. Because however many times we say it or chant it - whatever harmonious  or plaintive melodies accompany it - it’s a word on a mission, it has designs on us:  it aims to pierce us, pierce through us, penetrate our defences, our rationalisations, our laziness, our callousness, break through our sclerotic hearts, the way we harden ourselves to the sorrows of the world, the sorrows of others, the sorrows in ourselves.
When we come into synagogue through security on these High Holy Days we just have to wave our tickets, they don’t ask us - as they do sometimes (bizarrely) at airports – “Are you carrying anything explosive?”. But if they did ask us that during these days – “Are you carrying anything explosive?” - we could say: “Yes. Yes we are. We are carrying words, words like teshuvah; and they are explosive, they are meant to be explosive, to set off chain reactions of thinking and feeling inside us; they are words that threaten (and promise) to change our inner landscapes - unless they do that, they aren’t doing their job, we’re not doing our job. The words can become duds, blanks. We become duds. We become blank. We can let it all wash over us, safe from the creative dangers of getting too close to the explosive nature, the disruptive potential,  of the words we read.
In these days when explosions are a live topic for us, it may seem strange to talk about the aim of these words as being to be explosive. But one of the questions of these times is about security: where can our security can come from in fraught times? And maybe over these days ahead of us now we can start to find our security in this re-engagement with our tradition, in re-connecting to the power packed into the language, the words of our machzor (prayer book); the security that comes from rooting ourselves again within our tradition that offers and promises the opportunity for change, for renewal, for transformation; the security of discovering anew that the power, the energy, that animates all being, that animates all of life, flows in us too - in our brokenness as much as in our hopefulness.
[based on a sermon given at Selichot service at Finchley Reform Synagogue, September 16th evening]



Monday, 11 September 2017

On Magpies, Sermons and Lego

I was invited to the Liberal Jewish Synagogue  a couple of weeks ago to lead a pre-High Holy Day workshop for rabbis on sermon giving. Somewhat apprehensively, I went along with a few ideas but not knowing quite what to expect.  As it turned out it was a lively morning – and I learnt a lot (I’m not so sure what they learnt).

At one point I asked my colleagues what they thought was the point of a sermon? What’s its aim or purpose? They came up with an interesting list: comfort, hope, provocation, challenge, a space for personal reflection, providing a Jewish map/framework for thinking about an issue, an opportunity for learning, to stimulate curiosity, to stimulate change, to begin a conversation.  

Afterwards, it occurred to me that there seemed to be things missing from that list: there was nothing about God (as if it’s almost a taboo subject) or spirituality (though that begs the question as to what we might mean by the spiritual); nothing about offering people a way of making meaning out of tragedies, personal or collective; or just helping us to cope with the everyday battles and bruises of lived experience; nothing explicit about Jewish values (though maybe that was implied in some of the list); and, at a different level, nobody spoke about the sermon as entertainment.

Entertainment as ‘a  performance that offers pleasure, diversion or amusement’ (Longman dictionary). I think that’s an underrated aspect of sermon-giving. I’m not talking about entertainment as frivolity, as lacking in - or an avoidance of - seriousness of purpose, but unless it is a form of pleasure, of stimulating pleasure in the listener – and that could be emotional or intellectual  pleasure - I’m not sure why we’d bother with it. Either rabbis or congregants...

I think of sermons as a kind of play - it’s like being a child with a whole heap of Lego pieces, you can make anything you want. I remember when my son was young he used to have those Lego sets where you could build a castle or a spaceship: you’d get all the pieces, and instructions on how to build what was pictured on the box, but when you’d done  that and had the satisfaction of ‘getting it right’, it was much more fun to mix the castle pieces with the spaceship pieces and make your own imaginary constructions. And the more boxes you had the more intriguing could be the designs you could make. There was no limit to what you could do – the only limits were self-imposed ones originating in the limits you put on your own imagination.

So here’s an image to play with: sermon-giving is like playing with Lego – the pleasure is in bringing different sets of ideas (and images) together. I talked a bit in that workshop about how I see myself as a magpie. My eye is caught by, I’m always on the look-out for, things that I can use for sermons. Because I’m not really interested in straight-out-of-the-box building to an existing design. That’s not very creative or satisfying, for me. I’d rather be a magpie, and pick up lines of poetry or songs, quotations from the newspaper, biblical verses, jokes, ideas from novels, from TV characters, from films, from exhibitions in galleries, from a conversation I might have with someone, or something I overhear or see in the street, stuff that floats up from the unconscious when I’m taking a walk, or a shower. We are all bombarded all the time by stuff that comes at us, as well as things we go out deliberately and engage with, it’s all the stuff of life, randomly generated, the kaleidoscopic chaos of everyday life.  I am happy to make use of any of it, to play with it and see what I can shape it into – for my, and others’, entertainment and stimulation.

But  when I ‘play’ with this material, I am aware that there is also a concentrated seriousness at the heart of it. I might even call it a moral seriousness. Because although I appear to be writing right now about how I build a sermon, out of bits and pieces, what I am also talking about – what I am really talking about - is how we all construct a life for ourselves, brick by brick, day by day.

The question underlying what I’m saying is something like: how do we each build our life? what are the values we assemble, the beliefs we utilise, the ways of living we cobble together, the ways of doing things we learn, the ways of finding meaning and purpose  we seek out? For example: what parts of our family history do we treasure and integrate into our lives?; and what parts cause us grief and we can discard? What happens if things in the past that we don’t want – old hurts, grudges, grievances, fears - still stick to us, like pieces of Lego that get jammed together so we can’t prise them apart and build something new? what do we do when our options seem lessened? 

We are all building our lives out of the ‘boxes’ around us. There’s the box called ‘what our parents gave us’, boxes called ‘what our schooling and education gave us’ and ‘what our life experience taught us’ and ‘what our disappointments taught us’ and ‘what our successes taught us’ and ‘what our relationships taught us’; and religious or Jewish boxes with values packed inside,  like generosity, kindness, lack of ostentation, righteousness in all its multi-coloured forms? And we are all making up our lives as we go along from how we assemble the bricks. We are limited only by our imaginations.

We are all constructing patterns of meaning, though someone from the outside might look at what we are building and wonder : ‘What is that supposed to be?’, like I sometimes used to do with my son: but he had his story about what he was building. And one of the worst things you can do for a child is to tell them they have got it wrong because what they have put together isn’t the same as the picture on the box. Similarly with an adult. Other people might not recognise what you are building – how important is that to you, that it should look like what’s on the box?

It’s different if a child is frustrated because they want to follow the instructions and can’t; or they can’t find the right pieces because the ones they are looking for have got all mixed up with pieces from other boxes, and they need help sorting things out. Then your job might be to patiently sit with them and help them sort things out – this belongs here, that belongs over there, where can we look for that blue round bit? Ah, it’s hidden over there.

Similarly with an adult. Help might be needed to sort things out. To work out what belongs where. Because we all have, one way or another, assembled our lives from all sorts of bits and pieces of experience and knowledge and desire and hardship - and fragments of wisdom accrued along the way. And we may not be sure what we have achieved, what we’ve built. In this Hebrew month of Elul, the for reflection before the High Holy Days, we are encouraged to give some more sustained attention to what we have fabricated out of our lives. What do we value? What might we have overlooked? What might we might want to change, or re-design?

 It’s a month when we can be on the look-out for new pieces to build into our lives, and on the look-out too for bricks that are stuck together, that are stuck inside us, that we might want to pull apart. It’s a month to be magpies, to find things that you want to gather in to yourself, add to your life: it might be a story, or text, or a film you have been meaning to see; it might be in a relationship that you want to develop; or a call that you have been waiting to make; it might be a project of work, or study, or volunteering you might want to explore; it might be  a holiday you have been putting off, or a health check.

So – a month to be magpies. Or be like the prophet Isaiah. We read a text in the synagogue this week (Isaiah 60:1-14) which contained the wonderful, numinous words : “Raise your eyes and look about: everything can be gathered together and comes to you...” (verse 4 – my translation). You build your life out of what comes to you - the transient, the fleeting, the contingent, the serendipitous - along with what you seek out: love, meaning, adventure, security, joyfulness...everything can be ‘gathered together’.

And then Isaiah, the great poet/prophet, goes on say: “As you behold what is there, you will glow, your heart will throb and thrill...” (verse 5). What an amazing promise!  Paying magpie-like attention, gathering in what is there, will allow you to 'glow', will make your heart ‘throb and thrill’. A promise to take with us as we come towards our Days of Awe, as the Jewish New Year approaches.

[based on a sermon given at Finchley Reform Synagogue, September 10th, 2017]