Real World Halachic Issues in a Time of Paradigm Shift
A poem for Tu BiShvat

Here we are, God; send us

TentsIn the haftarah (prophetic) reading assigned to this week's Torah portion, Isaiah has a vision of God. In his vision, God asks, whom shall I send, who will go for us? And Isaiah says, "Hineni, here I am! Send me!"

This has been one of the themes of our time together at OHALAH. It's been mentioned several times -- during the smicha ceremony on Sunday, during Tuesday morning davening, all over the place.

One of the reasons why this is such a resonant theme for us, I think, is that we've all had the experience of saying hineni, here I am -- send me. Send me, God. Send me to share Torah. Send me to bring healing. Send me.

This is in some ways the language of Chabad, the lineage from which Reb Zalman originally came. Chabad speaks in terms of messengers, shlichim, whom they send into the world to spread their particular form of Jewishness.

I don't know that our task is to spread our particular form of Jewishness, per se. (Though I know that I always want to share the things I love best, I know that not everyone in the world wants or needs exactly those things. Besides, Renewal is more an attitude than a set way of doing things.)

But I think we share with our Chabad cousins the existential readiness to be deployed in the service of God, the service of our community, the service of the world. This is something we at this gathering have in common.

We're saying, God, I'm here -- I volunteer for whatever task You have in mind. We're saying, God, I'm here -- send me to care for the community, to tend the world, to build bridges, to heal what's broken.

And I love that. I love being among people who share my yearning to serve. People who share my yearning to connect with God, to connect with Judaism, to open up the riches of our tradition for those who thirst.

This year's OHALAH conference ends today around noon. We'll bid each other (a sometimes emotional) farewell and disperse back into the world until the Brigadoon of our togetherness magically opens up again. Until then -- here we are, God. Send us.


Image: some of the little tents which have been artfully placed around our gathering-spaces, representations of the tents of the 12 tribes of Israel which also suggest to me the big tent which is our organization's logo.