Thursday, August 08, 2013

King in the field, hmmm

"The King is in the field."
The "King in the field" has become an incredibly popular feel-good expression that conveys how G-d is extra accessible in the weeks leading up to the High Holidays. Normally, G-d is locked away in His "palace" and you can only get near Him if you've earned it. During Elul, though, He is like a king returning from a journey, traveling through the fields, meeting and greeting the simple labourers.
Only we're sophisticated 21st Century professionals, not peasant farm labourers. So, how does the whole "field" thing relate to us? Tell us that G-d's close, great! Tell us we're out in the fields? Hmmmm...
Outdoors, you're exposed to the elements. You're not home, you're not secure. They don't serve chicken soup on cold days out in the fields. Fields and home are opposites. Being out in the field means being away from our spiritual hub; it means we've strayed a little from our soul's centre. During the warm-up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur we analyze how in touch or not in touch with our Judaism we've been since the last High Holiday season. And, we probably feel a little more of an outsider than we'd like to have imagined we'd be.
Never fear, Rosh Hashanah is near.

In less than a month, we'll file into shul and persevere through the service. Hopefully, the rabbi will be on form and the songs will be soul-stirring. The Shofar will stir emotions. Kol Nidrei will buzz with a Shul full of people who are filled with anticipation. Neilah will climax in the community proclaiming G-d's oneness. 
All going well, we'll feel inspired.

But, experience has proven that inspiration doesn't last. Shul and High Holidays and the spine-tingling shofar are distractions from real life. They're a fleeting moment in the Palace, but after they're over, we'll be back in the fields for another year.

Elul's message is that the king is in the field. If we get a little more in touch with our soul during these "ordinary" days, we'll stay in touch. If we wait for Yom Tov to cast its spell over us, we shouldn't expect the magic to last. But, if we do an extra shiur or minyan or mitzvah each week until September, we'll have a meaningful and lasting soul-experience. The story of the king in the field is actually the story of finding the king in the field.  
Naomi and the kids join me in wishing you a meaningful, restful and enjoyable Shabbos!
Rabbi Ari Shishler 

No comments: