The Middle Chair
For years whether politically and/or religiously I traveled extensively and lived out of a suitcase. I would get home and just change my laundry, never really unpacking. I remember being in hotel rooms all over and longing to be home with my family. I would call them and hear them talking at the dinner table and laughing together. I would chat a while, and with tears in my eyes hang up quickly afraid that they would notice my sadness. I checked in and out of airports, and hotels, went through customs and as i grew older all I could think about was getting back to my own bed. I traveled with a team and thank God they were a major part of my life and what I was doing. While they were out sightseeing or shopping I was in my room preparing my sermons and my heart and mind for the fulfillment of my speaking engagements. There was a similar feeling that I am now able to associate with. It is that place when where you are is not home. It is this in between place that after so many years, you find yourself wanting out of. You certainly do not regret the experience but you simply realize it is not home. What I am about to share, I share from personal experience.
There is a people within a people in every religious movement it seems that may find themselves disillusioned with leadership and doctrine and segregated in their hearts from the people they worship with. I call it simply, the place of the middle chair. It is when your spiritual life suffers and worse, your relationship with your Creator. It is when you are dissatisfied with what you have embraced as being the purest form of your connection with God. It is when you begin to question structured religion, tradition and authenticity. You begin to wonder if you have been puppeteered and/or you have puppeteered others. This is a hard place to come to as you find yourself looking to one side and seeing what everyone has told you was right and then quickly turning to the other daring to question it all. It is a scary place, a risky place and yet, for one like me, a place you cannot ignore. In my travels I have met hundreds and hundreds that are in this place. They find themselves in the middle with nowhere to go. In the midst of this all, there are two things I have concluded for certain. One, through all our transitions in life spiritual or otherwise, we must never allow ourselves to come to the place where we allow our hearts to wander away from God. We must all follow our path with respect and purity of heart. There are times these feelings are simply part of your education and experience on life’s journey and there are other times when we must add change to the equation. Two, we must realize that relationships based on love are beautiful but those based and grown out of religious dogma are disappointing and fragile. Nonetheless, we follow our journey. The Talmud (Tractate Brachot 28:b) relates that when Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai was on his deathbed, his students asked him to give them a blessing. He told them, “Have the same fear of Heaven as you have of man.” “That’s it, Rabbi?” they asked? [Only the same, not more?]” “If only it would be the same as it is for man!” he answered. The crux of the matter; do what you must to fulfill your purpose in life for that purpose was given to you by your creator not by mankind.
For myself, it was the realization that it is a place where many Crypto Jews in between their Christian theology and the Shema (the platform prayer for Jewish faith) find themselves. It is not a happy place for many but certainly a very real place for many. These are people that somewhere along the way awaken to the stir in their heart and hear the unformulated question “Ayekah?” (Genesis 3:9, Hebrew for; Where are you, who are you?) They no longer feel like where they have been is spiritually home. They are a people that have really no place to go. They don’t know what to call this place and so it makes them uneasy and even presses them to stay where they feel they no longer belong. This is very similar to my story. It was truly “an eclipse with reality” and I had to face my decision. This winter (2015) my book “An Eclipse with Reality” is being released.
“An Eclipse with Reality presents the validity of Jewish Awakening. Today throughout the diaspora we are witnessing the return and revival of the wandering Jewish Soul. The Anusim (the forced ones resulting from the Spanish Inquisition) Sephardic Jews in Latin and South America are awakening to their Jewish heritage. Something deep within them five hundred years after their ancestors were forced to convert to Catholicism is discovering their Jewish identities and Hebraic roots. These Bnai Anusim (children of the forced ones) who have lived for generations without knowing their ancestors story are being called from within the dept of their Soul to return to their roots and reconnect with their pure identity”.
In this book I correlate my (abbreviated) story with the substance of key personalities within the Torah respectfully and subtly presenting a challenge to those with Jewish heritage living with the very same struggles I overcame. For more information: http://www.ayekah.org/an-eclipse-with-reality.html
Register today for our Los Angeles conference “The Golden Age of Jewish Spain” on Sunday February 8th, 2015. http://www.coalitionforladinolegacy.org/the-golden-age-of-jewish-spain-c…