Birch tree in winter, Grant Park

There is a tradition, ancient and hallowed, manifest through the Prophets of Israel, of feeling God’s pain and sharing God’s dreams with the people, and of feeling the people’s pains and fears and sharing them with God. That tradition of sacred pathos continued in the teachings and lives of the ancient rabbis, who taught that Shekhina (God’s female presence) went into exile along with the Children of Israel, and that whenever a Jew suffers, Shekina cries out in pain. We are, it turns out, most Godlike when we open ourselves to share each other’s pains, fears, joys and aspirations. Shared pain is not only diminished pain; it is halfway toward a solution.

–Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson–


Photo: Birch tree, Grant Park, January 1, 2014
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