Vayomer Hashem el Avram, “Lech lecha, me’artzecha u’mimoladetecha, u’mibeit avicha, el ha’aretz asher ar’echa.
G!d said to Avram, “Go forth from your native land, from the place you were born in, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you (Genesis 12:1).
Where are you heading? What is the call that brings you into your justice work? When was the last time you asked yourself what you are drawn to, knowing that the call can change? Where do you need to go next? What will you have to leave behind to get there? Is this a new calling?
Today, we let materials and creativity re-energize our spirits and offer insight into the work to which we are called.
For our practice, you’ll need some materials for creating – anything from watercolors or markers to recycled paper and found objects. You’ll also need a piece of paper and a pen or pencil. Take a moment to go find those materials — press “pause,” find them, and then press “play” again.
Take a moment to think back to the beginning of this chapter of your justice-seeking. What drew you in? What gave you energy?
Bring yourself to this moment and respond in writing, with just one word or phrase, to the prompts: I am energized by: _______; and: I am ready to take on _______.
Rabbi Yitzchak taught: If a person says to you: I have labored and not found success, do not believe them. Similarly, if they say to you: I have not labored but nevertheless I have found
success, do not believe them. If, however, they say to you: I have labored and I have found success, believe them (Babylonian Talmud, Megillah 6b).
The Sefat Emet taught that there is a spark buried in each of our hearts. According to his understanding of Rabbi Yitzchak’s teaching in the Talmud, we must labor to succeed in finding our inner spark (Sfat Emet Vayigash 1876).
What are the colors of the spark within you? What is the shape of the fire that the spark is waiting to ignite?
Turn to your materials, to whatever you have before you. Pick up whatever color or material seems to tug at you, and just start making marks on your page.~
Sink into the flow of making marks. You don’t need to be anywhere else right now. You don’t need to produce anything. There is no “right” color to use, no “right” way to form the lines or shapes that are emerging. Take just two minutes to let the materials carry you.
Find your stopping place for now. You can return to this flow again later, if you’d like. ~
Find your paper and pen/pencil again, and take a couple of minutes to witness your piece. What do you notice about what’s on the page? What are these colors, shapes, lines, and textures? What are they trying to teach you, to offer?
Know that you can return to this practice again – you can let materials guide you, uncover untapped energy, hint at unexplored paths.
May your going forth honor the call within, and may the fire burn powerfully.
Rabbi Rebecca (Bec) Richman (she/her) is the Assistant Rabbi and Beit Midrash Director at Germantown Jewish Centre and the Founding Director of the West Philadelphia Art Beit Midrash. A graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Bec trained as a campus rabbi at Brandeis University, completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and participated in T’ruah’s Year in Israel Fellowship. As a Jewish Studio Project Fellow, Bec integrates Jewish learning and creative practice. During the COVID-19 outbreak, Bec launched and has continued to facilitate a virtual art beit midrash twice a week, bringing together Jews from around the country to think, process and create in a shared, virtual art studio. In addition to her rabbinic work, Bec is a soferet (scribe), Hebrew calligrapher, ceramicist, and mikveh shomeret (guide). Bec lives with her partner and their sweet kiddo in sunny, West Philadelphia.