Rabbi's Message


This week I want to express gratitude to our residents for participating in our Psalms and Song group. Max F. and Jonas E. gave us two new interpretations/translations of “Yedid Nefesh” that were excellent. My thanks extends to James Fuchs, Aaron Delug, Corwin C, Laura Bagish and Adam Siegel for their work with these residents to make this such an amazing experience for all of us!

I am also grateful to Rabbi Shy Blakeney for arranging tomorrow's Shabbat Morning Service at Adat Shalom. Shy worked with Rabbi Arye Berk from Adat Shalom to make this happen. We are bringing our Shabbat Service to Adat Shalom and then we are performing Freedom song. It should be an exciting, uplifting morning!

This week's Parsha is Achrei Mot. This translates to after the death. This refers to the death of the sons of Aaron who died when they drew too close to The Lord. This is one of the many unexplained incidents in Torah for me. Logic would seem to tell me that the closer I draw myself to God, the happier God and I would be. Yet, Nadav and Avihu, Aaron's two eldest sons, died when they did this. There are many explanations given by our Sages and it still confounds me. I am starting to understand this in a different context this year. First of all, I have to surrender to a higher Logic than what reason can bring me to. This is very hard for most of us. And, I believe that this is at the crux of our Tradition and all Spiritual Traditions. Without getting into "the God Concept," I know that my mind can only reach a certain level. My reasoning fails me at times, not because it is faulty, rather because it is limited to what is known and is fact. What I realize is that I can't and don't know or understand the Mystery of my/our existence, as Rabbi Heschel states. The only way to deal with this mystery is to experience it, apprehend it and allow my soul to interpret and use the mystery to grow closer to Truth and how I can live a life that honors and celebrates this mystery.

How has your rational logic failed you? Do you try and understand every mystery rather than experience and give yourself over to the experience? When have you used/experienced Higher Logic?

This is not to say we should not figure things out so as to learn and grow; I am saying that we have to use correct logic to do this. When we try and stay concrete/use rational logic to live and figure stuff out, we reduce the beauty of life to the lowest common denominator and use our answers to control life - ours and others’. This is the way we and others make great logic arguments that we know are wrong and we can’t ‘prove’ them wrong. The rational logic allows us to stay detached from life and its mystery. While this works, it is, to me, so very boring! I am suggesting that we use rational logic for its purpose and higher logic for its purpose. I believe most great inventions happen from higher logic, which is why people are so dedicated to experimenting until they get it. Eureka is the code word for higher logic and tapping into the mystery of our existence.

Do you revel in the mystery of existence? What are the Eureka moments you have experienced?

None of this explains the beginning of our Torah Portion. The error that Nadav and Avihu made, in my opinion, is the same error that many of us make: They were trying to escape this plane of existence through getting higher/closer to God. This is not what our Tradition means when we are told to draw near to God and to walk in God's ways. What I believe our Tradition means is to be God's representatives or reminders, as Rabbi Heschel tells us. This is different than escaping; in fact I would argue it is the opposite. Drawing nearer to God and walking in God's ways are being in and of this world while using higher logic to improve this world, to do Tikkun/repair so that eventually the vision of the Prophets – peace – happens, maybe in our lifetime! To do this, we have to live from both the rational and higher logic we possess. Our challenge is to develop our Higher Logic. We can only do this through Spiritual Work. We can only do this by growing our inner/higher/Divine being-ness.

How are you using you rational logic to escape? How do you use your higher logic to escape? How are using both logics to draw nearer to God and to walk in God's ways? How are you growing your inner/higher being-ness?

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Mark