A Walk In The Garden
I wish that I could have walked behind Elijah and Elisha as they headed to where Elijah would rise up to heaven in a storm. I can’t even imagine what the two giants, Rebbi and student, were discussing as they walked.
I wish I could have walked alongside Moses as he led the Children of Israel through the desert. I want to listen in to his conversations with the people around him as they crowded around him soaking in every word of the greatest prophet.
I wish that I could have walked with Abram as he traveled through the land of Canaan for the first time, discovering the land where his descendants would create their future. I wish that I could have walked with him after God said, “Walk with me and be pure.” What did he say to the people around him? What did he feel?
Of all the walks I dream of joining, none approaches the power of God walking with Adam through the Garden in Eden, introducing each tree to Adam. Did He explain how each tree, fruit, and flower expressed a different aspect of His Unity? I want to walk with them and listen, ask, challenge, and simply soak in the experience of walking with God.
I always understood Halacha as walking and growing. Halacha pushes us forward to grow and constantly move and progress as a human being. I learned on a walk this past Shabbat that Halacha is our way of joining God and Adam as they walked through the Garden.
My very dear friend, Dr. Larry Biel, invited me to join him on a Spiritual walk around some lakes in Minneapolis. He sort of warned me that it was a long walk, but since I walk more than three miles each day, I wasn’t intimidated. He left out the insignificant detail of the walk being more than six miles.
We began the walk with another man, and were soon joined by another two, and then picked up more people as we headed toward the lake. I was looking forward to a nice quiet walk. My new friends had something else in mind.
They began asking questions about everything in Judaism. We discussed the Holocaust, Jewish education, Halacha, prayer, Shabbat, love and, I can’t remember how many more topics. The questions continued for hours. The distance didn’t matter. I was flying.
I could tell you about these extraordinary human beings by sharing how some of them walk more than five miles back and forth to synagogue every Shabbat. I could tell you that these are people who have struggled against terrible odds and thrived with grace, beauty and joy. Their stories would not begin to explain what makes these human beings so spectacular.
I was walking with people who passionately love their Judaism. They are all serious thinkers who are determined to find the truth and beauty of Torah and service of God. They do not take anything for granted. They do not simply accept information. They challenge, probe, ask and argue until they have clarity.
I felt as if I was walking in a scene from the Talmud with people debating important ideas at the highest intellectual levels.
They wanted to know why I had to find a rest room and would not relieve myself in the bushes. They wanted to know why I couldn’t use the lake. They didn’t just want to know the law; they wanted to understand the lessons of the laws and how they could apply those lessons to their lives. They understood that every single Halacha has a life-changing lesson. They wanted to debate the conflict between the laws of Shabbat and the law that prohibits us from waiting to relieve ourselves. (Not an easy debate when you are desperate!)
We began talking at 4pm. We arrived in the synagogue at 7:15. I thought we had walked for an hour. I was wrong. We walked above and beyond time. We walked together with God and Adam in the Garden. We took the true walk of Halacha. They are not the most knowledgeable Jews, nor the most observant, but I have no doubt that it was for such people that God walked with Adam through the Garden. It was for such people that He gave us the gift of Halacha.
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