Does God Need Our Labor?

The Bible is written in Hebrew, and no translation captures the full depth and truth of the words.

One of its most interesting words is avodah. In the Bible, it means “sacrifice.” It refers to the animal sacrifices offered in the Jerusalem Temple.

After the Temple was destroyed, the Jewish sages used the word avodah to refer to “prayer.” Instead of sacrifice, prayer became our way of drawing close to God.

In modern Hebrew, the word avodah still means prayer. But it is also means “work.” It means “labor.” It refers to the activities we do with our brains and bodies.

What does this word teach us? That the labor of our hands and our hearts is part of what we offer to God.

Whether that is raising our children or grandchildren, volunteering, or if we our lucky enough to have 9-5 jobs—all of our labor has the potential for holiness.

When we are honest, respectful and diligent—when we work with integrity and compassion, we serve our Eternal God. That's something to remember on Labor Day.

Part of my labor is writing books, and I hope my writing honors the Creator of us all.

This new book is my labor of love. It reveals the hidden truths behind several Hebrew words, and you can have it in your hands on 9/12. You will be surprised by what you discover when explore the Old Testament in the original Hebrew.

What to Say When You See the Eclipse

A Biblical Prayer

Unless you have been cut off from the civilization over the past few weeks, you probably know the total solar eclipse will occur Monday.

eclipse

I confess I am a bit overwhelmed by the frenzy and attention surrounding the eclipse. It seems half my congregation is traveling somewhere to experience it.

But here’s the truth: As human beings, we yearn to experience the feeling of wonder and awe at God’s creation. If God created the universe, then the the beauty and wonder of the world around us is an expression of God’s creativity.

That’s the way we people of faith can experience the solar eclipse: it is a magnificent example of the wonder God built into creation.

Opening ourselves to such experiences is part of what makes for a meaningful spiritual life. The eclipse gives us a unique opportunity to do so. 

A member of my congregation asked me if there is an appropriate blessing to say about seeing the eclipse. I did a little research and found a prayer said for several thousand years in Jewish tradition upon experiencing natural wonders.

“Blessed are You, Eternal God, Maker of all the works of creation.”

We might also turn to the powerful verses from the Prophet Amos:

Behold, He who formed the mountains, And created the wind, And has told man what His wish is, Who turns daybreak into blackness, And treads upon the high places of the earth— His name is the LORD, the God of Hosts. (Amos 4:13)

Wonder is not an expression of gratitude at God’s magnificent creation. It is also a source of joy.

You don't have to wait for an eclipse to experience that joy.  You can discover ways to experience the amazement of everyday living in The Happiness Prayer: Ancient Jewish Wisdom for the Best Way to Live Today.