These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

down the rabbi hole

Posted on November 10, 2014 by Eva Neuhaus

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evaneuFrom my blog:

i just came through a month of feeling totally disoriented by judaism and wondering what the hell i’m doing in rabbinical school. here’s what i learned:

1. sometimes what’s called for is to follow the feelings of disorientation all the way down the rabbit hole. there have been times recently where i almost felt i was losing my mind. and–going to that place of confusion rather than resisting it generated a lot of creative friction that fed my writing about my encounter with the ancient constantly regenerating swirling mass that is judaism.

2. sitting in my confusion also enabled me to understand what was not working so i could make necessary changes. in this process i remembered that what i love is to learn by leading and i’ve been spending most of my time in student mode, absorbing information but not creating with it. as a result i’m retooling my approach to my studies so that as much as possible i’m learning by doing and not just by thinking.

3. for long-term projects that require stamina and endurance, i’ve found it helpful to keep a list of reasons why i’m doing what i’m doing. when i feel discouraged or confused about my path, looking at the list provides clarity and realigns me with my purpose. i keep updating the list as new reasons present themselves. if i get to the point where none of the reasons work for me anymore and i can’t think of any new ones, i will have to reconsider the path that i’m on.

i’m grateful that rabbinical school has been so challenging. just like any project that requires staying power it brings me up against all my walls and spurs me to mobilize latent resources in order to find my way over/under/through. i bless us all that we may know what constitutes right action in each moment, and that we may have the strength to wrestle our challenges to the ground in order to find the gifts in them.