Friday morning at The Spark with Rabbi Lisa Goldstein we explored the idea of surrendering to God. This idea of completely letting go is hard for me to grapple with. Awe at God’s wonder? Sure. Fear of God’s power? Gotcha. Struggling with God when I see injustice. Wondering about God’s existence or presence in the world? Check, check, check. That’s me.

But surrendering to God? That’s tricky. “Let go and Let God” has not exactly been my life’s mantra. My mom once bought me a placard that says “I’m not a control freak. I just happen to know what’s best for everyone.” (BTW, my mom bought the same thing for herself. Apple, meet tree).

What Rabbi Goldstein suggested, though, is that we don’t have to surrender everything wholly and all at once. She asked us to think about what we’d like to surrender this year as we pray during the High Holidays, and what kinds of safety mechanisms and protections we might need in order to permit that kind of surrender.

Of course, I was reminded again of the beauty of the Jewish calendar (those people knew a thing or two). This Rosh Hashana begins a new cycle of 7 years of shmita. Shmita really means release. Shmita is a year when we let the land lie fallow. That might not sound like a big deal to us in our modern day lives…but imagine if you were a farmer. The level of planning that would have to go into a year of not working the land. The heavy dose of faith you would need that year 6 should yield enough for you to make it through year 7. If you are a farmer, allow me to thank you for providing food and sustenance. If you’re not a farmer, I ask you: what is it you’re going to release this year? To what can you completely surrender? If you haven’t had time to contemplate this idea, I submit to you: use your time during the High Holidays to turn this question over and over in your mind. I’d love to hear what you choose to surrender.

Constantly wondering, constantly planning, and soulfully yours.

Rachel Siegal


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