Rabbi's Message


It is with joy, sadness and gratitude that we bid farewell to Stephanie Cullen as an employee. Stephanie is Kadima-ing to a new job and we are all happy for her! Thanks Stephanie for all of your dedication, innovation and love that you have put into your work here at Beit T’Shuvah. We are glad you are staying in Los Angeles and will continue to be part of our community!

I am so very grateful to the development department for their hard work on our Community Seder last Tuesday, especially Brian Rivera, Charlie Singer and Ali Gabler. I am also so grateful and humbled by the amazing turnout of 390+ people! You all helped me get out of another Egypt this year! Todah Rabah!

This week we read a section from Exodus. In it, we relearn about God's capacity for forgiveness. We also learn that in order to receive forgiveness, we must acknowledge our errors and ask for forgiveness. I love this concept!

In the middle of Passover, we read about forgiveness, in this case regarding the Golden Calf.

Why did the Rabbis choose this to be read now?

I think to remind us about the slavery of guilt and how wallowing in guilt leads to shame and wallowing in shame leads to slavery.

This is the root of our problems, in my opinion. When we are deep in guilt and shame with no way out, we are a slave to our impulses and thoughts. To relieve ourselves of this Egypt, most people lash out against others. We find hatred, violence, conquest, negativity easier than responsibility and T’Shuvah and forgiveness. This is the sad tale of society today. We see this in our government, our leaders, in the Ukraine, in the Middle East, in every society!

What is so hard about embracing our imperfections? Why do we so love the slavery of shame, guilt, and our need to be perfect?

I believe it stems from erroneous beliefs about our origins. We were not born in sin nor were we born "perfect". We were born innocent and we learn through failing forward and from the failing forwards of others. We find forgiveness throughout the Torah, yet we don't follow these examples in our living. We still try and hide like Adam and Eve. We try and explain it away, we blame others, etc.

We need to change our Paradigm of living. We need to jettison Greek thinking. We are not perfect, we have never been perfect, we are not supposed to be perfect. We are human! It is imperative that we recapture our humanity through embracing our imperfections. After we do this, we can learn from them, improve on them and then ask for and receive forgiveness from others, God and ourselves. This is crucial to our liberation and freedom from everything that enslaves us. Let's use this time to Redeem ourselves and others from the Egypt of Excessive Guilt and shame.

Hag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Mark