Who Is Retiring?

Last night I discovered the mythical missing borough of New York. It did not float off from Manhattan as the father suggests to his son in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. It is to be found in Evergreen, Colorado. I was invited to be scholar-in-residence at Beth Evergreen Synagogue and over dinner we began to talk about our places of origin—for most it was either Brooklyn or Queens. So, before my presentation I asked the crowd, how many of you are transplanted New Yorkers? —the response was overwhelming. I joked that I had found the lost borough of New York.


Dreams are in the air and they are everywhere. I first approached Rodger Kamenetz to present at our fundraising event based on my knowing his book, The Jew in the Lotus. I did not know who Rodger Kamentez, circa 2013, is because I made the fundamental mistake of associating him with his past. This point was driven home last night by a man who approached me after my talk and said, “The one thing you said that struck deep was the question, Who are you?” He himself is retired (in Evergreen) and likes to share this question with his friends and acquaintances who are about to retire. “Working,” he clarified, “provides one an identity.” “When you retire you must face the question, Who are you?”


I did not realize when I approached Rodger that he is retired. Instead of assuming he is the writer of Jew in the Lotus I should have asked: “who are you?” When I did ask I found out that in his retirement he spends most of his day working with people’s dreams. His method is called Dreamwork and that is what he is coming to Denver to share with us.


When I was approached a few months ago to be the scholar-in-residence at Beth Evergreen I was told that the topic they would like me to address is dreams from a kabbalistic perspective. I am paying attention—to my dreams and to dreams being everywhere.


In discussing premonitory dreams—what in Kabbalah is called prophetic dreams—I explained that in order for us to “see” the future, the future must already exist. This led another man in the audience to ask, “So how does one know that one is fulfilling one’s (future) destiny?” My answer was a bit evasive but still worth consideration. I suggested that one may never fully know whether they are fulfilling their mission—but it is far easier for us to know when we are not fulfilling our destiny. Still many of us don’t decide to alter that or think, “I’ll wait till I retire or I’ll wait till…” Dream on.


For the past two years we have engaged as a community in the counting of the Omer—a 50 day count commencing on the second day of Passover and concluding on the festival of Shavuot. The count is a mitzvah in the Torah and its minimal requirement is to simply count (today is one day, ten days etc.). The Kabbalists, as they are wont to do transformed the count into an in-depth journey through the bottom of the Tree of Life—specifically corresponding each of the seven weeks of the count with a different (lower) sefirah. Each day then has its own unique combination of sefirot.


Next Tuesday night-Wednesday day is day one. I have an idea for this year’s count, something to the effect of pursuing our dreams—and I am open to your suggestions. The prior year counts and the meanings offered for the spiritual work can be found in the archived Newsletters.


Best wishes for the holidays and be on the alert for next week’s Omer counting blog.



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