12/13 July 2019, 12/13 Tammuz 5779

We anticipated the donkey of this week’s portion with our Pet Service last shabbat. Exceedingly concerned about decorum, flow and interruptions I was pleasantly surprised by the service. Admittedly not to everyone’s taste but we managed a memorable Shabbat B’Yachad with 8 dogs and 2 rabbits making up our minyan. And we truly managed to pray. This week’s Parashat Balak is famous for the talking donkey (it probably inspired the makers of Shrek). But actually the donkey just points out the obvious. What are you doing, she asks Balaam, and pay attention to what is happening, not least me talking. Forget the animal, words of wisdom are shared.

I took some days at home at the end of June. Attending to the children and their needs and just catching my breath. Balancing being a parent with work and busyness is always interesting. I know some of you have not experienced it or perhaps are far from those days, but the challenge of sharing oneself across our responsibility and passion is never dull. Being busy is a blessing and I never forget that but it sometimes entails robust consideration and planning. We often have our eyes fixed on goals ahead and can miss the life we are in the midst of.

Shefa Gold, a rabbi and liturgist wrote this extraordinary poem. We can, she suggests, miss ” the miracle is where you’re standing”.

The treasure is where you’re standing.

I just had to tell you …

Though your gaze is fixed on distant shores, 

and though you’re scanning the sky madly for that one

miracle that will tuck your doubts to bed

and kiss them away.

You’re looking for the one that will clinch it, aren’t you?

Well, you’re looking too far … ‘cause,

the miracle is where you’re standing.

Miracles are commonplace.

They can walk in broad daylight, 

and not be recognized.

But rare … oh so rare is the one who can step up to that

imposter-ordinaire and rip away the mask and say to

each and every day in its disguise,

‘Aha! This here and now is miracle and I wasn’t fooled

For a minute.’

The miracle is where you’re standing,

But who would think to dig beneath the soil of his own


Here is my Pause for Thought on Leaving Home as well, some of you may be navigating that at the moment.

Shabbat Shalom.