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

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Little Less Majesty This Morning

It is usually on days like this one - clear, crisp, sunny with the beautiful sight of the mountains beckoning that I feel great pride in living in Colorado. However, as bright as the sun is shining and as majestic as the stunning purple mountains may be this morning ... the wattage is not as high this morning as I reflect upon the cowardly and bigoted decision made by the Colorado House of Representatives. The news is not news at this juncture - the Colorado House of Representatives refused to even allow a vote on a the latest bill asking for equal rights for ANY two human beings - regardless of their gender -- to enjoy the same rights and protection that our government exists to preserve and protect. I am sad, ashamed and angry.

The words - no the wisdom and the call - of tradition that come to mind are simple ones from the prophet Micah: Do Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. I think the justice and the mercy explain themselves in the case for the Civil Union bill ... don’t they? Justice seems to point toward providing equitable treatment to all law abiding, tax paying citizens in this great American society. The fact that we question whether one group - on account of their sexual orientation - to be worthy of equal treatment is nothing short of prejudice and bigotry. No matter how such a rationalization is cloaked in the finery of religious belief or political expediency - it is no different that limiting another’s rights because of the color of one’s skin, the type of sexual organs on one’s body or the way one believes or does not believe in a deity.

And if justice does not get us there, then it would be time to jump on the train of mercy. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Micah 6:8) What is hateful to you, do not do to others. (Talmud, Shabbat 31a) Remember the stranger for you, too, were strangers in the land of Egypt. (Leviticus 19:34) How can anyone of us who has been touched by successful or unsuccessful marriages (which I am pretty sure which include all of us) not have the greatest respect and compassion for any two human beings who endeavor to roll up their sleeves and try and create a marriage, a family and a home? It is one of the most challenging and rewarding paths that we human beings have the opportunity upon which to walk. Our state is merciless when it is able to say to some of those human beings who have engaged in this sacred task: No, you do not have the legal right to visit your partner when they lie sick and possibly dying in a hospital. No, you do not have the legal right to help determine the care this loved one in these scenarios. No, no, no ... but yes to the rest of you.

Humility is the charge for us to know our place in the larger webs of lives and life in which we dwell. Our lawmakers work for us. Our lawmakers place - both liberal and conservative - is to make their best efforts to bring considered, relevant and constructive laws to our representatives for approval. While each of these employees of ours must be expected and encouraged to stay true to their personal and political values - humility is about understanding one’s place. It is about knowing where ‘I’ end and the larger entity - which is Civic Colorado - begins. It is about maturely allowing that larger web to take thoughtful, sincere input from that ‘I’ and then letting that web follow its own course. And no matter whether you sit on the right or the left or somewhere in between, humility is ultimately about trusting - dare I say ‘having faith’ - in the larger web that is Civic Colorado and living with those decisions - especially when those decisions do not reflect your sincere and thoughtful perspective.

Do Justly. Love Mercy Walk Humbly. Six words that I find refuge in as I look to return the wattage of Colorado and all of its glory to its genuine strength.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Food Sensitivities

I am thinking a lot about food at the moment ... not because I am hungry as I write this post, but because I am in the midst of a twenty-one day cleanse. Under the guidance of Jen Nassi - my holistic health coach - Renee and I are participating in an exhaustive eating exercise. During these three weeks we are eliminating many foods that are common to our everyday diet and adding foods that will help our bodies remove toxins and work more efficiently.

For the first time in a long time (albeit collaterally) I am observing Kashrut. No meat, so no worries about animals’ cud chewing proclivities or the cleft-ness of their hooves. No dairy, so there is no cheese to put on that waiting hamburger (that I cannot eat). The cleanse maintains no ideological connection to these emblematic rituals of the Jewish Dietary laws. However, I believe that my cleanse and the spirit of Kashrut are profoundly connected. The traditional Jewish expression of eating properly has evolved into different sets of dishes of milk and meat and butchers who know how to kill and animal in a certain manner - there are other paths to follow from this original practice. Kashrut or Kosher means ‘fit’ or ‘proper’. In that sense the command to keep Kashrut can be understood as a charge to to produce and consume foods that are fit and proper - fit and proper for my body, for my spirit and for the world around me. Even though I have followed the traditional sense of Kashrut before in my life, during these three weeks I think I may be keeping kosher - eating ‘properly’ - in a way that I have never done before.

The idea of what is fit and proper for me (and the world) physically and spiritually contains a wide range of considerations. For example ... I pay close attention to how my body reacts and works quite differently when think so differently about the food I ingest. I observe how often I associate a choice of what to eat and when to eat it by an emotion (a treat for a long run or because I have had a long day).  I notice the resources (time, money, intellectual) needed to make these choices. I pay attention to how what I choose to eat connects me to (Renee, with whom I am sharing this exercise) or disconnects me from (spending time with family and friends over meals, drinks, etc.) the social interactions that sustain me. I reflect upon the way I contribute to justice, compassion or peace for my world around me because of the way my food is produced and distributed.

I invite you to take a day to keep ‘kosher’ ... to simply pay attention to the ‘fitness’ of the food and drinks you choose to ingest for a day. Don’t even worry about changing anything you eat because of the attention you are paying to your food ... just consider what you put into your mouth for the day. Why are eating or drinking in that moment? What physical need does what you are choosing to eat or drink fulfill? (Hunger, exhaustion) What spiritual need does what you are choosing to eat or drinking fulfill? (Anxiety, loneliness, celebration). How will the nature of this particular food that you are ingesting affect your body and its function? How did the production of this kind of food affect other living things? (Animals, human beings, the environment)

There is great potential and even power in every single choice we make ... from the obvious life-changing choices to the mundane choice of everyday life that lose our attention and their meaning.