Rosh HaShanah

September 26, 2011 | Filed in: Divrei Torah, Haggim, News

Connecting with God

By Marian Kleinman

In the story of the sacrifice of Isaac we read on Rosh HaShanah, the sacrifice asked of Abraham can be explored as symbolic of relationships such as the relationship between ourselves and God.

In today’s society, individuals are frowned upon or shunned if they tell others they are “hearing God” or hearing voices. In some of our most popular literature, this attitude is prevalent. For example, in Rowley’s Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Hermione, one of Harry’s sidekicks, warns Harry, “Even in the wizarding world, hearing voices isn’t a good sign.”

For at least one week this past May, there was much conversation and discussion. Many people wondered and worried that the world was going to end on May 21 at 6:30 am. This was all because an evangelical broadcaster spoke and the media spread his words! If people weren’t worried, they were laughing and when 6:30 am rolled around on May 21, and then the day moved forward as normal, the world didn’t end. Perhaps because of this more people became convinced that prophesy isn’t to be trusted.

Yet, we listen to and follow many of the messages around us, messages which arrive in ever increasing styles: cell phones, Twitter, rock singers, email spam, Facebook, TV commercials, and so much more. Are we so naïve as to think these little, yet incessant messages are not deeply impacting us? Is it subliminal or are we aware of the intense, transformational power of the deluge?

Without technology I wouldn’t be able to share this D’var Torah with you this week. In so many ways, despite the negative issues, our lives are enriched by technology. Our metallic, cold desktop computers can warmly connect us.

Although I run the risk of being teased or shunned, I’ll admit to you: I hear God’s voice. One of the ways I sense and hear kol Adonai is in nature, the trees and mountains, the loud and busy bird song early in the morning . . . and feel we each have great responsibility to care for our planet and resources. I feel deeply attached to nature, so much so that each year, in preparation for the High Holy Days, it’s my custom to take a journey into some sort of natural wilderness.

Each year, I strive to find a way to connect with nature, one of our greatest gifts from God and with this way of my connecting, I seek ways to practice shmirat ha-teva (guarding the environment). I’ve gained many ideas about our Jewish perspective on caring for the environment from

In nature all around us, God’s voice can be seen. Just moments after Abraham moves to sacrifice his son Isaac, a visual picture comes to him – a ram caught in the thicket. In this transformational moment, God’s voice seems louder, Abraham hears an angel telling him not to kill his son. In the most compelling moments in our lives, piercing answers sometimes appear. In those moments, it’s as if we’re apart from the messy and sometimes careless jingles of daily life.

Life is mostly about the daily, more common and mundane activities, and less so, is it filled with larger drama.

When our eyes are open, when our ears are ready, throughout our days we can find a path tothe Higher Power within ourselves, in nature, and in others. During this High Holy Day season, prayer is one of our central paths. Meshulem Heller of Zbarash wrote, “the purpose of all prayer is to uplift the words, to return them to their source above…the divine spring is ever-flowing; make yourself into a channel to receive the waters from above.” In prayer we hear our own voices, and surely we can hear God.

I see footprints of God’s majesty in nature and I hear a Voice. I walk toward this radiance in sound and sight. I can seek moments of stillness, meditation, and silence in my daily life. Gardening during the summer months helps me keep my perspective. Singing with others, listening to the voices of children and adults, the voice of God is within each of us.


Marian Kleinman is a second year cantorial student at AJR. She is the Cantorial Soloist at Congregation Agudas Achim, Livingston Manor, New York, and Principal at Beth Am Temple Religious School in Pearl River, New York. She’s also a cohort member of the first “Game Design Initiative” (Game Design for Jewish Learning) presented by The Jewish Education Project with Global Kids, New York.