Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Power of Sunset

I'm a pre-Judaism Jew. The way I observe the holidays, and in fact the way I think about Judaism, is all about the natural rhythms of the tradition. I am not at all an intellectual Jew, nope. I resonate with the seasonal celebrations, the way we follow a lunar calendar (and such) far more than the ideas behind modern Judaism (which is, from what I can tell, more like medieval than ancient Judaism).

All the biblical stories about pillars of fire and pillars of smoke, even all the rhetoric about smiting, etc. - I think those came out of an earlier oral tradition in which weather and other natural phenomena were perceived as messengers of God. I get that, I do.

Since most of the Torah is at the very least perplexing and at its worst, horrifying to me (at least the translations I'm familiar with), I prefer to skip backwards through all the centuries during which rabbis interpreted the ancient texts, take myself back in time to the beginnings of Judaism. At least this is the story I tell myself. What do you think? Is it possible to connect to prehistoric traditions? Is this total crap or am I really a pre-Judaism Jew?

One thing I love about Judaism is that our holidays begin at sunset. I'm fascinated by that. Why sunset? Why not sunrise? Why do we head into our holidays at nightfall? We usually light candles straightaway as the first part of celebrating any holiday, creating our own light. There's something about that I really love.

Today is Yom Kippur. Jews everywhere are praying and fasting today, coming face to face with God. Maybe because I'm a pre-Judaism Jew I was able to conclude my High Holy Day celebration last night after work. I took a long walk around Capitol Hill. I sat (as I like to do) on the marble steps in front of the Supreme Court and watched the sun go down behind the Capitol.

God and I are good with each other. The book of life is closed and now it's onwards and upwards to the new year. Amen, Salaam and Shalom! Oh yeah.


ellen abbott said...

I'm with you Reya. If I get into any religion at all, it's at the 'pre' stage. Do religions really need all those rules and restrictions and punishments? Is that really what it's all about? I think not. When they start throwing all that control in there then they start moving away from the essence of god. At least that's how I feel about it.

So yeah, I'm good with god too. Shalom.

Val said...

i'm with you too; i like to sift through rhetoric and interpretation, and religions as political tools, and cultural devices. shalom to you Reya x

Dan Gurney said...

We're all cousins. Really. Do the math. We have 8 great grandparents and 16 great-great grandparents. Go back a few more generations (not far back in time) and that's more people than were walking the planet. We're cousins.

We're all Jews, or at least JewISH. As such we need to mend our family ties, especially to the nonhuman world.

Tom said...

as long as God isn't whispering in your ear, telling you to blow things and people up, then you've got it right. i grew up Christian, but lately i've been all, like, whatever trips your trigger, dude.
love the picture--gives the capital a weird leaning slant

Reya Mellicker said...

Whatever trips your trigger, as long as no one else is hurt by it. Does it for me.

Ellen we practice the same "religion."

Pam said...

"God and I are good with each other". I like that. I feel the same. Have a wonderful week ahead Reya. Hope that third eye of yours has settled back to shape - appears it's had quite the workout!

lettuce said...

wonderful light in these photos reya - this golden light is something I've come to associate with your photos and Washington - and you


Pauline said...

I think I heard a resonant echo of "Oh Yeah!" :)

Karen said...

Happy new year! And congratulations on finishing all that intense spiritual work. Whew! :)

Reya Mellicker said...

THanks, Karen. It was a doozy - but it's over now! Yay!!