The Voice

On Wednesday (Sept 14) Rabbi David Wolpe posted on his Facebook wall:

“American writer Sherwood Anderson was the manager of a small paint factory in Elyria, Ohio. One day, in the very middle of a sentence he was dictating, he walked out of the factory to devote himself to literature. Anderson was forty-five. The mysteries of human nature are endless. Resh Lakish was a robber who became a Rabbi; David a shepherd who became a king. To listen to a voice inside for change inside is a risk. But is ignoring the voice truly safe?”

It got me thinking about the “still small voice” that represents such terrifying (to me, at least) change in people’s life. I am certain it was this same voice which Abram heard sending him and his wife Sarai away from all they knew into the wilderness. It was the voice that told Rebeccah to water that strange man’s camels. It was the voice that called out and stopped Moses in his tracks as he was busy chasing down a wayward lamb.

I remember being both fascinated and horrified when I read the liner notes to Bobby McFerrin’s second album “The Voice”:

“On July 11, 1977, I heard a voice distinctly telling him to be a solo vocalist. Although I had no idea what it meant or how it was going to happen, six years later I found himself on stage alone for a two-hour concert, a concert that was completely improvised. This terrifying and exhilarating experience sealed my fate.”

I was fascinated because it was a modern-day version of the hero’s story, of overcoming impossible odds to emerge victorious.

I was horrified, because that could happen to me. In an instant I could hear a voice that would send my life careening off track and who knows where it would end.

I am, you might say, a little bit risk averse.

What about you? Do you welcome the voice of change or fear it? Have you heard it? What did it say and what did you do?

Here in the month of Elul, we prepare to stand before God and accept judgement – we open ourselves to the Voice and can only tremble in hope that we are equal to the task it demands of us.

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