This is Gertie:
We made her.
She’s a goat (okay, she’s a goat mask pulled over a box) and she eats everything.
You’ve heard of a scapegoat, haven’t you? But did you know that concept came from Torah??
In the section of Leviticus read by some communities on Yom Kippur it says:
Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat and confess over it all the iniquities and transgressions of the Israelites, whatever their sins, putting them on the head of the goat; and it shall be sent off to the wilderness through a designated man. Thus the goat shall carry on it all their iniquities to an inaccessible region; and the goat shall be set free in the wilderness.
Well, I’m not sure how I feel about assigning our sins to a cute furry animal and sending it out into the wilderness to probably die, but I do like the idea that we give our regrets to a goat. After all, a goat will eat anything, Maybe it will even eat our “I’m sorry’s”.
So, at our Yom Kippur services we did an exercise. We all got 3×5 cards to write down (G rated!) actions which we regretted. Then we collected the cards, shuffled them up, and redistributed them so that each community member could stand and read a “sorry” that didn’t belong to him or her. We had to hear our regrets come from another voice into the community. Then (this part was optional, but everyone did it) we could go to Gertie, and feed her the regret card. Of course she ate them all. She eats everything! 🙂
What was so amazing was the recurring themes we heard as each person read… Not spending enough time with children, not better understanding children, not being more present for those around them. And the kids mostly focused on awareness… awareness of their bodies and their actions.
Hmmm. Seems like presence is an issue all around these days.
So, what can we do?
Thanks to one of our community members, two wonderful organizations that are sponsoring “unplug” programs have been brought to my attention. Cool Shul is getting actively involved in both and we invite you to get involved as well.
Let’s face it, that handheld device (that I bet you are either reading on right now, or is in your pocket or purse beckoning you) is part of what is pulling us away from awareness. Our devices are part of why it is so difficult to be present with our minds and our bodies or to give our families the attention they deserve. And I’m no innocent. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard my son say, “Mom, I’ll be right back… don’t get on your phone.” And you know what? I bet I sneak a peek to see if that email came through while he’s out of the room most of the time.
Well, I’d be a lousy spiritual leader if I didn’t give myself the same challenges that I give you, so here is our first for you and for me. Each week for a few weeks, I am going to encourage us to detach from our digital worlds for Shabbat in different ways. Let’s see if we can do this!
Click here to see the family guide to Device Free Dinners from Common Sense Media (which, by the way, is also a great resource the next time you can’t remember if Pretty in Pink is appropriate for your 10 year old).
This weekend, let’s all commit to device free dinners. Find a bowl or a basket. Have everyone put their devices in the basket at mealtime (the arrow that comes with the kit is fun!). NO peeking!!! Fill out the commitment and hang it on your fridge. I’m going to do it in my house, and maybe we can comment at coolshul.org or Facebook to tell each other how it went AFTER THE MEALS!!!! I’d ask you to send a picture, but I know you’ll grab that phone to take the pic during dinner, so just a lovely description will do.
Okay, maybe just for Shabbat buy maybe beyond, no devices at mealtime. That means at least dinner Friday night and Breakfast and lunch on Saturday… NO DEVICES! And of course you can keep going on into Saturday night, Sunday, and beyond if you like if you like it.
Let me know how it goes!!! Imagine. Three meals a day with no distractions (except, of course, to read this blog)! 🙂
Shabbat Shalom y’all.