17/18 January 2020, 20/21 Tevet 5780

It can’t fail to strike us. As we read the opening of Exodus and the image of the Burning Bush this Shabbat, that intense theophany, and moment of divine revelation. The description of the bush in flames but not burning whilst we receive images and accounts of Australia’s hideous fires raging through the bush. Noel Butler, a Native Australian, who with his wife Trish runs forest camps for troubled indigenous young people, explains:

“Fire in this place is our friend,” he says. “Fire has been used to maintain, to look after this whole continent forever.” Native peoples called them “cool burns,” No longer.  “I think this is a wake-up call not only for Australia but for the rest of the world. You cannot just destroy the land. You cannot destroy what keeps you alive.”

His words speak to balance. The Native Australians always understood balance was essential to the bush.

This week I am thinking about spiritual practice, what sustains and guides us, and how it helps us maintain balance in our lives. Moses’ moment at the burning bush is considered a peak moment of divine awareness. Perhaps the observations and wisdom of the Native Australian community might inform and instruct our own attempts. May the flames settle.

Wishing you a peaceful Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Rebecca