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7.14.2017 Weekly Torah Portion

PostPosted: Fri Jul 14, 2017 8:07 pm
by RabbiMark
My gratitude this week is for Nicole Goodman, our Elaine Breslow Institute program director. Nicole has arranged many week-long Immersions as well as programs off-site for Educators, Clergy, Mental Health Professionals, and Medical Professionals over the past two years. The comments we get are always ones of praise for Nicole. We have two Immersions happening in the next two weeks, and Nicole has made all the participants feel welcome and included even before they get here. Nicole is one of the myriad of examples of people in Recovery transforming from being part of the problem to being part of the solution! Thank, you Nicole!!

This week's Parsha is Pinchas. This is the name of the eldest son of Eleazar, the
High Priest. The Parsha has many different parts to it. There is another census in it: in the forty years of wandering, the number of Israelites diminished by 1,820 people. This means that the generation who knew that they were going die without reaching the Promised Land kept the dream of hope and freedom alive by having and raising children.
How do you keep hope alive in your life?
What dreams are you helping others keep alive?
Are your hopes and dreams realistic?

This is such an important concept in our Tradition. We learn about it throughout the Torah. In his editorial today, New York Times columnist David Brooks speaks about how the loss of morality doesn’t happen overnight, and the same is true for being moral. It is a generational process and is handed down from one generation to another. This is the reason that Torah Study and Torah living is so integral to Jewish Living. We are charged with teaching morality and decency to our children and our grandchildren. Torah teachers are seen as pseudo-parents because they are passing down our ancestral knowledge and wisdom from one generation to another.
What moral lessons have you learned from Torah and your ancestors that you practice and pass on?
To whom are you teaching “your Torah”?
Where are you “missing the mark” in living the wisdom of your/our Ancestors?

In fact, throughout history, Jews have been the keepers and reminders of morality and decency for the world. I would suggest that this is the reason we have been used as scapegoats for demagogues and been so hated by others. We are the reminders of God’s Will and God’s message to and for humanity. Yet, many times we forget our place and the Divine Message that we carry. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel has been cited many times by many people as a paradigm of Justice and Spirituality. What sets Rabbi Heschel apart, and is missed by many, is that his words are only a part of his story. The force of Rabbi Heschel is how the Torah he learned from his ancestors shaped the way he lived his life. Rabbi Heschel was an unstoppable force because he knew that God needed him and that he was a Divine Reminder for others. He truly sought to promote the “sacred in every event.” He was a man of integrity because his insides and outsides matched. In the face of derision, Rabbi Heschel spoke for God and for his fellow-man at all times, in every situation. Rabbi Heschel is my teacher in so many ways, and for this week, especially, in handing Torah down from one generation to another.

Moses and the people show great love for and faith in God with their actions. Many people speak about faith and yet demonstrate very little. Faith is an action, not a feeling! Today we are facing adversity and challenges in life; this is not something new. Our people have faced these challenges forever. We face the loss of financial security, the loss of loved ones, etc. Many people are more worried about their losses than their wins. When we concentrate on holding on to what we have, we miss so many opportunities to grow and gain.

We have seen the erosion of "the American Dream" through the greed of a few. Yet, we don't hear about the people who are building up our country and their own lives through innovation, service, and faith. Why not? Because it doesn't sell! In fact, faith is being used as a club and an excuse for some people to take advantage of others, to clean up immoral behavior, and blame others for their misfortune. It is called “The Prosperity Gospel.” As spoken about by its adherents, it is a gospel that is in direct and utter conflict with Jesus’ teachings, yet this “false faith” is being promoted and bought into by the people that are going to suffer the most from it. As with the current health care bill, taking care of the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the stranger is thought to be wrong! The Torah has been around for over 3000 years, so maybe innovation, service, and faith is as eternal as negativity.
Are you living the lessons of Torah?
Are you living the lessons of society?
Which life do you choose to live: faith, hope, service or loss, negativity, misery?