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8.4.2017 Weekly Torah Portion

PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:58 pm
by RabbiMark
My excitement and gratitude is overflowing! I can’t express in words how thankful I am to Sam Delug for being my Co-Honoree this year at our annual Gala. It is also impossible to describe the excitement and joy I experience in working with Avia Rosen and Janet Rosenblum on our Gala.

Hayley Levy, our new Executive Director, is so much fun to work with, and she is so smart and embodies all of the best attributes of Beit T’Shuvah. Hayley is truly a member of our community! Rabbi Andy Markowitz, our new Director of Spiritual Programing, also started this week. He is immersing himself in the Beit T’Shuvah culture and is a joy to know and work with. Please introduce yourself to both of these new Great additions to the Beit T’Shuvah family and community!

This week’s Parashah is Va’Ethanan. This translates to “and I pleaded.” Moses is pleading with God to go into the Land of Canaan and God says, “NO.” It is an interesting exchange of pleading for Grace and hearing No as an answer. It gets me to think about Grace as a way of being. I believe that Grace is the experience of receiving something that I am not entitled to. In fact, Grace is the antithesis of entitlement. We live by and, hopefully, through the Grace of God. Yet, many of us act as if we are entitled to the life we want, as opposed to the life God needs us to have. In fact, the Hebrew is in the Reflexive Verb Family of Hebrew, so I translate it as “I need the Grace of another” and “I need to give Grace to another.”

How often do you realize the ways Grace touches you? When are you giving Grace to others? How are you experiencing No as an act of Grace by/from another?

One of the things that bothers me in Deuteronomy is Moses’ continuing to blame the people for his own foibles and for his experiences that he doesn’t like. I realize, as I am writing this, a spiritual lesson of reading Deuteronomy and then immediately beginning Genesis. Moses has not come that far from Adam in the Garden of Eden. Just as Adam blamed Eve, so Moses blames the people. This is a constant throughout history. It is a Spiritual harm that we continue to perpetuate even today.
To be in Recovery we have to be responsible. To live a Jewish Life we have to be responsible. Yet, blaming others is not the route to being responsible! Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel teaches us: “In a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible.” Blame and Shame are the antidotes to being responsible and, by definition, being free.

How are you living a responsible life? How are you living in blame and shame? How often do you do T’Shuvah and repair your soul and the harms you have brought to others?

We also learn the Shema in this Parashah. If we read the V’Ahavta backward, as my friend and teacher Rabbi Ed Feinstein taught me, we get to be responsible.

If our doorposts could talk, what would they say about the way we live on the inside? What do your eyes look at and dwell upon? What signs do your hands portray to the world and to you? What do you talk about at home, on the way, when you lie down and when you get up? What do you say to yourself at all of these times and places? What are you teaching your children with your words and do your actions match your words? What ways of being human are in your heart? How do you love God and others with all your soul, your heart and your everything?

I am blessed with being your Rabbi and I am blessed with being the Senior Rabbi of Beit T’Shuvah. I encourage you to engage with me, ask me questions, and I welcome your holding me responsible to our shared ethics, shared values and shared love of Freedom and T’Shuvah.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Mark