music in the park san jose

The Jewish prayerbook includes a morning prayer that says: “In God’s goodness, day after day, God renews creation.” God did not set the world in motion and then withdrew from it. Rather, creation is an ongoing process, continuously being renewed and sustained with mercy. 

Just as God renews the work of creation every day, we too renew ourselves. Opportunities for renewal, for changes in our behavior, happen every day. 

Rabbi Debbie Israel

Prayer supports us in this process because it leads us to become more aware of our behavior. The Hebrew word to pray is a reflexive verb that means to judge oneself. Speaking to God in prayer motivates us and inspires us to raise ourselves from sin to holiness, to reconcile our behavior with others in our lives and with God. 

Through this introspection we are able to discover what is important in our lives. We recognize that we have faults that need our attention and that others have faults and imperfections too, leading us to be more tolerant and accepting of others. This enables us to be less judgmental of others and of ourselves.

I am reminded of a charming story called “The Cracked Pot.”

A water bearer had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. 

The cracked pot was ashamed of its imperfection. After two years, the cracked pot spoke to the water bearer: “I want to apologize to you. For these past two years, I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts.”

The waterbearer said, “As we return to the master’s house, notice the beautiful flowers along the path.” Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot noticed the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path. But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad and so again it apologized. 

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were no flowers on the other pot’s side? I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk, you’ve watered them. I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, we wouldn’t have these colorful flowers to bring beauty to the world. I need to thank you. Thank you for being a cracked pot.”

We are all cracked pots with our own unique flaws. By recognizing those flaws, we can begin correcting them. Alternatively, we can be like the water carrier and put our flaws to good use. Today is a good day to begin the process. 

Rabbi Debbie Israel is a founding member of the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. She is Rabbi Emerita of Congregation Emeth and a community rabbi of Santa Cruz County. She can be reached at [email protected].

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