Welcome to Mo-Drash ... the weird confluence of the Jewish tradition of Midrash and me!

What is Midrash? Literally, the word derives from the Hebrew root that expresses interpretation. Figuratively, it is the process by which Jews read between the lines of our sacred stories and seek insight from what we discover from each story, verse, word, letter and stroke of the pen.

Who am I? My name is Adam Morris, but known by many as Rabbi Mo. I spend a lot of my time serving in the role of rabbi, but I am also a husband, a dad, a runner and a 'weekend' craftsman (among other things). I try to move like Abraham to find my Place ... to wrestle like Jacob to know my Place ... and to snicker like Sarah to keep me in my Place.

B'makom she-ani omayd (from The Place where I stand),
Rabbi Mo

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mo's New Word? - Day #24

Sometimes what seem like new words just pop up into my vocabulary.  It may very well be that someone else said this word in my hearing or that I came across it reading something along the way, but in my innocence and forgetfulness, it feels new and right.

A new word that I have heard myself uttering - mostly in ritual moments like Shabbat service - is 'godspace.'  It is nothing revolutionary or really new, but as I said it for the first time, it felt 'new' to me.  It came out one Shabbat as I was trying paint a verbal picture of how we use that time we call 'prayer'.  I was trying to express the challenge and value of taking the time to going inward, to be inside ourselves.  That part within - whether it is physical, psychological or spiritual -  where no one else can possible be, in the intimate of intimates, the inner Holy of Holies.  Then it popped out ... what I was trying to name was the 'godspace' within.

The more I played around with the word in my mind the more I liked it.  I think it was Rabbi Harold Kushner who spoke of 'God-shaped holes' within each us, maybe he was partly my original source.  Or perhaps it was how space or literally 'place' is actually one of the names for divinity given by our Sages - Makom.  It is this way of naming the divine that speaks most acutely to me in my understanding divinity.   I also think the word leaves room for many understandings of what 'god' may be ... perhaps the name of an actual deity who rents space in one's inner sanctum; perhaps the part of one's mind that allows for the possibility of divinity; perhaps the way or method that one uses to pay attention to the workings of the cosmos how they may affect or be affected by our choices, actions and thoughts.  I believe that the idea of an untouchable, impenetrable inner sanctum relates to the types who talk to god, the types who just listen to god; the types who do not believe that god listens or talks; and even the types who do not believe in god at all.

The thing about these godspaces within is that you just don't normally just walk in, sit down, open a cold one and let the party begin.  One must be mindful, intentional and spend time getting ready to enter.  Sure, every once in a while we get a magical glimpse of the light of the godspace as the door opens or closes - like in an intimate exchange with a loved or being awed on top of that mountain.  The nature of the godspace within, however, is that we need to spend time laying the groundwork and preparing to enter this space.  Every religious tradition offers a variety of methods to do so.  What most have in common - at least the genuine, authentic ones - is the recognition of this godspace, the importance of spending time within it, and the need to prepare to be there.

In another one of my 'surfing the web for one thing and finding something else' instances, I came across a wonderful way of expressing this kind of preparation on Rabbi Amy Schneirman's website.  (It is so good I wish I had thought of it.)  If you ever have painted any space in your home, you know that the actual painting - the part that transforms and beautifies the space - takes the least amount of time.  The prep work demands an inverse amount of time and energy.  I find the painting fun.  I find the prep work tortuous.  There is the removal of wall paper, the repairing of holes and scratches in the wall, the taping of windows, trim and the like ... yada, yada, yada.  You have to do the prep in the right way - or else the painting never reaches its potential. Spending time in your godspace takes the same kind of preparation ... and the preparation can be boring - especially in comparison to the experience of being there.

In a fashion Elul is the time which we take to prep the 'godspace' for our annual paint job - with the painting to be done when we are in our godspace during the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  Now is a time to prep your space, choose your paint colors and get yourself ready  ... and see what transformation awaits as spend some time in your godspace in the days ahead.


  1. Well said Rabbi mo! I live the analogies you use.

  2. I agree, it is well said. It's kind of a new age way of talking about "space", sort of the way John Denver did when he sang about "looking for space". I'll just point out that, in both cases, what you are really talking about seems more closely related to time. When you first mentioned the word "Godspace" I thought you were going to talk about the sanctuary! Since the fall of the Temple, we Jews have staked out our holiness in terms of time, rather than space. Would the word "godtime" make more sense? I'll confess, it doesn't resonate as well as "godspace", but one of my pet peeves is the use of language for the way it sounds, rather than what it actually means. A lot of mischief is done this way, particularly in our modern political arena.

  3. Of course, while structured in time, you are really talking about an inner space, kind of in the same sense we talk about the mind's eye. So, I could live with "godspace" if you insist. :-)

    Still, I can't decide if it should be capitalized or not.

  4. Religion scholar Rachel Wagner explores the godspace of the web in a forthcoming book called "Godwired." She is playing with both the way we create space for the holy on the web, and the possibility that we ourselves might be godwired.

  5. This is beautifully said. Godspace, yes, it's that quiet dwelling within all of us.