“Awe ….. Awwwwww”

The magnificent creation in the photo to the left is on a hibiscus plant I have been nurturing on my porch (along with Laura’s help when I’ve been out of town), for months. Slightly tropical, it requires daily and sometimes twice-daily watering, and Laura tells me it doesn’t hurt if you sing to it, either.

It can be a little temperamental. A day of excessive heat can result in yellowing and dropping leaves.

And then come these spectacular blooms, so beautifully detailed by the One Above.

Each bloom, magnificent as it is, explodes into the world for only twenty four hours, then drops.  Startled each time I awake to one of these suddenly unfurled beauties, I am filled with awe. The color, the form, this sudden red thing of beauty before me fills me.

Knowing that another one may show up on a different part of the plant on a day I cannot predict, fills me with awe again.

We are of course entering The Days of Awe as this Shofar Bulletin arrives in your home or on your screen. And awe, modern science is recently discovering, is the cure for what ails us.

Liturgically, theologically and religiously, six months from now we will be clearing chametz, leavened, puffy matter from our homes.

“Inflammation of the soul” is how the commentators refer to chametz, and so we clean it out.  “Inflammation of the body”, modern science tells us, is exactly what entering a state of awe can clear.

It was only a few years ago that people “pooh-poohed” the idea of Inflammation altogether.  Medical journal after medical journal now cite inflammation as the source of so many ailments.New findings are that being in the emotional state of wonder, of being in awe, minimizes inflammation, soothes the sympathetic nervous system, lowers blood pressure, strengthens the immune system.  So stare at the picture on the front page.  Think of this Shofar Bulletin as good medicine!

And marvel that for centuries we have been calling this time of year – the Days of Awe – days for us to remember our Creator, days for us to remember that we ourselves are extensions of our Creator; days to remember with awe how we gather. Our president, Chuck Prousnitzer has said: “We gather for spiritual understanding, companionship and good food”. All these will be true this Holy Day season.

Rabbi Mark Biller