Alright, ladies and gents.  Welcome to our second installment of Eli Talks!

Here is Micah Lapidus, discussing a topic that is dear to my heart, but I like how he puts it: the incredible lightness of Judaism.  He raises the issue of Judaism being viewed as a burden for some – whether identity or observance – and what to do about it.

Eli Talks director Miriam Brosseau says:

We all want to live lives of meaning, of purpose. How do we get that? How do we make meaning? 
When I think about the things in my life that are most meaningful, those things that give me a sense of purpose, they’re all the really hard stuff. Family is one of those things. My husband and I have a 1 year-old who is the greatest thing on the planet, and all of the tough stuff with him is also the very best stuff. I can’t count how many hours I’ve spent humming and singing and shushing my little boy to sleep at all hours of the night. And now he’s teething and his nap schedule is off and he wakes up…oy. It’s exhausting! But then, in the middle of all this, I suddenly have that moment where he’s curled himself around me, totally trusting, his sleepy weight sinking into me…and I get it. I love it. I wouldn’t exchange those moments for anything.
The weight of a (not) sleeping baby, or family in general, or work, or community, can feel like a burden we want lightened. Judaism can feel like that. But what do we lose when we lighten the load? What does that mean for Judaism and Jewish life? Can we make still make meaning if we don’t feel that heaviness? And if we can’t, what does that, well, mean? Micah Lapidus may not answer all these questions in this talk, but he asks them in such an eloquent, genuine manner that I can’t help but think about it.

OOTOB’s Ruchi Koval says:

I sometimes feel like the object of pity.  I “have to” wear long sleeves in the summer, cover my hair, and be restricted in what I eat.  And in all honesty… those things sometimes feel burdensome to me too. But if I didn’t feel like Judaism offered me so, so much, it would feel like a heavy burden all the time. So how does Judaism feel not only light, but that IT’S carrying ME?

Judaism to me is an answer.  It gives meaning to my days, clarity to my questions, and depth to my emotions.  It’s a destination for my prayers, eternity to my feelings of smallness, and an infinite legacy for my fleeting moments of joy and sadness.

Forget about carrying a burden; how could I survive without it??

Imagine a man hiking in the desert with a backpack of food.  Is the pack heavy?  Yes, and the heavier it is – the more that’s in it – the more he will be nourished.

Now the question is, how to transmit this to the next generation?  Not a complete answer in any way, but the only way to even have a chance at successfully transmitting anything to the next generation is to be totally sure of it ourselves.  Which begs the next question… how can we teach ourselves that Judaism is not only light, but lightens our load in life?

What do you think?