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Sinai and Synapses

A miracle of sorts happened this week and I am not talking about the eclipse, rather what did not occur during the eclipse. As people stood together, lounged together, and hung out together as they looked skyward, there was no fear of one another in this moment of standing together in peace. Our challenge is to take that energy forward.

With that in mind, here is an article written by Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelman, the Founding Director of Sinai and Synapses, an organization that bridges the scientific and religious worlds, and is being incubated at Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. Tehillah is proud to be a part of Sinai and Synapses this year.

Excerpt from Rabbi Mitelman's reflection:

“Midnight” at 3:24 pm. The sun covered by a black circle. The corona. Glimpses of Venus and Jupiter. Screams of awe and jubilation from the lake nearby. I’m sure that for those who saw a partial eclipse, it was totally worthwhile. But that 1% was, quite literally, the difference between night and day. Up to the point of 99%, the partial eclipse was a matter of degree — but totality was a difference in kind. That difference created a moment when we knew everything changed, like moving from a dimmer switch to a light switch, and one that millions of others were experiencing throughout the day.

I often think of ritual in a similar way, as a way we transform the analog (which is continuous) into the digital (which is discrete). After all, when does someone actually “become an adult”? When does a romantic relationship become “official”? How do we know when it’s actually “morning” or “evening”? These all are processes where it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment without a demarcation that we humans would define. That’s why Judaism has created rituals such as b’nei mitzvah, weddings, and candle-lighting times. They create a moment that allows us to say, “Now. This is it.”

Rabbi Lawrence Hoffman talks about “ritual moments,” and how they all incorporate a build-up to a climax. From a baseball game (which starts with the introduction of the players, the national anthem and finally the first pitch) to a political convention (with introductions, speeches, and finally the acceptance of the nomination) to Jewish rituals (such as at a wedding, where guests are welcomed, blessings are made over wine, and finally the individuals are joined together as a married couple), rituals help us structure what might be moments when we’d think, “Is this actually the moment?” 

The build-up to totality was a ritual, as well. Partial eclipses are definitely cool, and if we happen to be in the path of a future one, we’ll grab glasses and look up. But most likely, it wouldn’t change the flow of how we’d go about our day. On Monday, though, for those three-and-a-half minutes of totality, it was a ritual moment. 

Read the entire article HERE.

Thu, July 18 2024 12 Tammuz 5784