Meditating with Rabbi Elad-Applebaum

A meditation derived the writing of Rabbi Elad-Applebaum:

“Like flowing water, it is impossible to take hold of the mystery of God. . . .

“The tremendous power of life within the realms of the universe gushes out of the Divine One. . . .

“God loves us with a great love, giving us the power to come and go with God in strength, for the service of God is the supreme educational space in reality.

“. . . the service of God enables humankind to test its abilities to the extreme, so that two independent partners may always exist within the space of world creation: humankind and God of the universe.

“And we do hear and respond to one another.

“From the fear of death and the longing for a living God, we bring forth our life, our time and place, our society and context.

“From moment to moment the reflection of God touches our reflection and awakens faith in us.

“Take notice, says God.

“Take notice, I repeat to myself.

“Not to despair, not to stumble, not to wither.

“To open door after door to the living God, to open it within myself and in reality, door after door, hope after hope.”

These short paragraphs are taken from a long and powerful paragraph by Rabbi Tamar Elad-Applebaum in “The Radical Divinity,” in Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove’s Jewish Theology in Our Time, pp. 168-169.

Rabbi Elad-Applebaum gives us much to think about in this essay.

It is good to take notice of the Divine — not to stumble or whither, to open door after door to the living God.

Obsession with winning has downsides

“While [John] Kennedy deftly separated himself from his father’s politics, he didn’t hesitate to emulate the old man’s rather manic sex life. Joe had spent many nights in Hollywood with Gloria Swanson, perhaps the most popular film actress at the time. Joe took other women to bed whenever it suited him and, one hopes, them. ‘Obsessively focused on winning, on conquest,’ writes Logevall, ‘he always wanted more, more, more—in all areas of life.'”

That last, quoted sentence describes so many “leaders” who are driven by a need to win, and they show up in many walks of life — politics, business, and religion come quickly to mind.

So, there are two warnings in this:

1) If you have these tendencies but do not want to be pulled into a life of destroying others, understand the importance of placing boundaries on yourself, and you had better get some good friends around you who will help hold the boundaries when you push them.

2) If you encounter one of these people, beware. They are very enticing; they can lead you down a bad road very quickly and at the end of that road there is a good chance they will still shine while you are shucked to the side.

(quote is from Michael Kazin, “Ending the Kennedy Romance,” in a review of Fredrik Logevall’s book JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956, in the New York Review of Books, May 27, 2021, p. 19, and here.