On Wednesday (Sept 14) Rabbi David Wolpe posted on his Facebook wall:
“American writer Sherwood Anderson was the manager of a small paint factory in Elyria, Ohio. One day, in the very middle of a sentence he was dictating, he walked out of the factory to devote himself to literature. Anderson was forty-five. The mysteries of human nature are endless. Resh Lakish was a robber who became a Rabbi; David a shepherd who became a king. To listen to a voice inside for change inside is a risk. But is ignoring the voice truly safe?”
It got me thinking about the “still small voice” that represents such terrifying (to me, at least) change in people’s life. I am certain it was this same voice which Abram heard sending him and his wife Sarai away from all they knew into the wilderness. It was the voice that told Rebeccah to water that strange man’s camels. It was the voice that called out and stopped Moses in his tracks as he was busy chasing down a wayward lamb.
I remember being both fascinated and horrified when I read the liner notes to Bobby McFerrin‘s second album “The Voice”:
“On July 11, 1977, I distinctly heard a voice inside my mind telling me to be a singer. Soon I began to envision myself on stage, singing, even though I couldn’t hear what I sounded like. […] So, somehow I just naturally began to sing alone and developed my technique out of necessity – exploring ways to produce the sounds I was hearing in my mind.”
I was fascinated because it was a modern-day version of Abraham’s story, moving away from the familiar into the unknown, with only the vaguest notion of where one will end up.
I was horrified, because that could happen to me. In an instant I might hear a voice that would send my life careening off track and who knows where it would end.
I am, you might say, just a little bit risk-averse.
“I gave my first solo voice concert [in 1983] in Ashland Oregon. I winged my way through those two hours, and […] improvisation still gives me the greatest challenge and the greatest pleasure. I never know from moment to moment where I’ll end up, and sometimes I’m scared to death. Yet, with all the risks, being on the edge is always the most fulfilling place to be,”
What about you? Would you welcome the voice of change or fear it? Have it already spoken to you? What did it say? What did you do?
Here in the month of Elul, as we prepare to stand before God and accept judgement – we open ourselves to the Voice and can only tremble – some in anticipation, some in fear, but all with the hope that we are equal to the task demanded of us.
(originally posted on The EdibleTorah)