Growing up in the 1970’s and 80s, I imbibed the Star Wars spirit and became an avid fan of the first trilogy. My favorite of the three films was Return of the Jedi. As a Rabbi, I reflect on themes such as Good vs. Evil, Jedi as a derivative of Judah and Yoda as a derivative of Yodea, an all knowing master, which evoke our theology. Yet, the most personally meaningful allusion is the mantra of the Jedi, “May the Force be with you.” It speaks to a timeless and timely message for life.
The ideal of the “Force” or in our lingo, God’s ever presence, permeating our life, guiding us and empowering us resonates deeply. In Genesis, God reassures Jacob not to be afraid on his journey to Egypt. God promises him, “I will go down with you to Egypt and I will raise you up.” Like Jacob, we face challenges, anxieties and doubts but God will always be with us.
In truth, like the force, God resides within but must be awakened. It lays dormant within us but burns bright. How do we unleash the inner light? From me it began at a young age. I live with a sense of faith reinforced in ritual, prayer and action of belief in God, God’s belief in me and a belief that all humanity possesses the Divine spark. The mantra of the force beckons us to fuel the flame, strengthen our faith, and fortify our embrace of God’s mission.
We are tasked to emulate God. As He gives encouragement so must we, as He offers hope, so must we. Perhaps that is why I love the mantra for it not only awakens God in me but ignites His presence in others. Recently, I experienced this first hand. I noticed a parent and child, whom I know, walking together in a embrace. I called them and when they turned around I could not help but notice a sense of distress. I offered my support and said, “May God give you strength. God is watching over each and every one of us.” The mother smiled and remarked, “Those are the words we needed to hear right now. Thank you so much.”
God is everywhere. In the words of King David in Psalm 139, “You know me when I sit and when I rise…where can I go from your Spirit? I go to the Heavens and you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. You hand will guide me and your right hand will hold me fast.”
May the Force be with you. It awakens.
Wishing you and your families a Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Daniel Cohen