Friday, 12 May, 2023 - 1:14 pm

As I drove from JFK to New Jersey and back this past week to attend a family wedding, I wondered how I ever did this before Waze. With all the bridges, thruways, highways and routes, and each one with seemingly multiple names and numbers just to keep it interesting, it’s a challenge even with Waze!

I recalled the big “mapquest” breakthrough, when you could print the directions in advance, as the big technological revolution in driving directions.  And then I remembered how many stops I had to make at gas stations, when I missed an exit or a turn off……

Thank G-d for Waze, but there’s still one thing waze cannot do for you - it cannot provide you with a destination, that you have to do. Once you have that it, it can help you get there, but you gotta know where you're goin’…..

This week we conclude the third book of the Torah - Vayikra. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks OBM, makes a fascinating observation about the opening of the book and it’s closing. Both feature a very similar Hebrew word. “Vayikra” means “and He called” - a reference to G-d calling Moishe, and by extension calling out to all of us. To hear the calling of G-d, is to have direction and purpose in life and to know that there is a destination for life and for the universe.  

We are all ambassadors of redemption - to bring redemptive consciousness to ourselves, and to the world. Redemption is the destination, and it is the cumulative result of all our individual pockets redemption and how we bring redemption to our spheres of influence. Redemption means as we studied in the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah this week : ‘For in those days ( of redemption), knowledge and wisdom and truth will multiply- as it states:”For the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d” …..and “ I (G-d), will remove the heart of stone from your flesh”. 

Redemption and redemptive consciousness then, is to live in a space of knowledge, wisdom and truth. Our knowledge, wisdom and truth come from the Torah. Redemptive consciousness, also means being emotionally engaged, present and alive - to be passionate, connected, aware, and not live with a “heart of stone”. 

The counterforce to redemptive consciousness, is the word repeated seven times at the end of the Parsha ( book of Vayikra)  “mikrah”. Sharing the same etymology as the Hebrew word “VaYikra” - to be called, “Mikreh” means “by chance”, or “whatever”. It is to see life as “whatever”. There’s no grand calling or destination, it is whatever I decide I want my life to be on any given day. It is to ascribe no meaning to events as part of some larger narrative, it’s all the luck of the draw and you just gotta go with the flow of whatever’s flowin out there. It is  to live in a state of “random consciousness”.

Life is essentially a choice between two mindsets , two states of consciousness, redemptive or random. 

Here’s the good news. Back in the days (of mapquest), when you were hearing the calling - on the road to redemption, and you got side tracked, took a “wrong turn”, you had to disrupt your journey, find a gas station ( that was open…), and hope that the guy behind the counter could be helpful.  Then, with the breakthrough GPS technology, if we deviated from the path, our GPS advice, assured us that we could “recalculate” and find another route to our destination. 

Now, it’s completely seamless. You miss an exit, you get “farblonghet”, and Waze doesn’t even break a sweat. No “recalculate” announcement necessary, as it quietly and organically reroutes you. 

In the framework of redemptive vs. random consciousness, the advance in GPS technology, can be understood thusly. Deviations from the road to redemption (into “random  consciousness) were previously viewed as aberrations - not meant to happen, should not have happened, mistake etc. And thus the need to either get out of your vehicle and start again, or at least be aware that I need to “recalculate”.  

Now, the seamless transition in Waze from a wrong turn to a reroute, suggests that “wrong turn”, was not such a big diversion or aberration after all. In fact it is part of the journey you had to take! For whatever reason your journey needed to include the “scenery” of a road you did not expect to travel on. 

You thought it was random  “Mikreh”, but discovered that it was ‘Vayikrah”, part of your calling, your road, your destination, your redemption.

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