Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood

Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood
Celebrating Havdallah

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What's your story?


Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone has stories they like to hear. How blessed we are, in the Jewish tradition, to be able to openly embrace our stories and make room for other stories to be told.

Stories come in all different packages and with all different labels. Some are stories we tell around a campfire. Some take place at bedtime. Some are stories we hear from our relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers and rabbis. Others are stories we read in books, magazines, or online. Sometimes we create stories in a class, or on our own and we share new ideas and new concepts with the world in great detail.

In Jewish tradition, we have a Book of Legends (Sefer ha-Aggadah) that come from our Midrashic and Talmudic traditions. Rabbis created Midrashim, or stories, to be able to better understand holy scripture in a way that made sense for their world. Torah text is sacred, and Midrashim gave these Rabbis the chance to try and understand many of the perplexing and challenging issues surrounding our sacred texts. The stories they told were holy and thus became a part of our own holy tradition.

I love telling stories. Whether in a sermon, at a family service, during a holiday, while teaching, or even informally, I find that stories have a means of engagement that go far beyond listing facts and figures. Stories weave together details, fantastical elements, moments of suspense and anticipation to create lessons - - or even just to entertain us. And EVERYONE loves a good story, whether young or old, learned or not, stories captivate our attention and stay with us.

More so, each one of us has a story to tell. Our lives may not be as fantastical as the stories we hear, or read, but they are OUR stories, nonetheless. And these stories are just as holy and sacred as our ancient texts.

As we approach this Shabbat, and pause to reflect on our lives (where we've been this week, where we're going), I urge you to think about your own personal narrative. What have you seen, experienced, learned, gained? What do you hope to add to that winding path that will eventually be the fabric of your tale? What is your story and what would you like to tell this world?

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