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.