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9.8.2017 Weekly Torah Portion

PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:29 pm
by RabbiMark
I am very grateful to and for our two new team members, Hayley Levy, our Executive Director, and Rabbi Andrew Markowitz, our new Director of Spiritual Programming. Hayley is such an amazing person - she is kind, smart, and strong. The changes that Hayley has initiated so far are making us a better organization and each of us better people. Rabbi Andy has taken over the plans that were started and really run with the ball. He is engaging, smart, and kind also. Both of these great spirits are making Beit T’Shuvah and me exponentially better. Thank you both for belonging and helping all of us - especially me - grow!

This week’s Parashah is Ki Tavo. This translates to “when you enter.” I am realizing how often I don’t take note of where I am entering. While the Parashah is dealing with when the Israelites first come into the land of Canaan, I understand Torah to be telling me to be aware of every place I enter. It is so easy for me/us to fall into our routines and not be mindful of entering our homes, our offices, the street, the mall, the …. I work hard to notice things around me, yet, as Harriet is wont to remind me, there are many things that I just don’t pay attention to. Being on my phone, iPad, etc. distracts me and helps me not notice that I have entered a new/old space. Sitting in the airport lounge, I have to take time to notice what is around me and how to enter and leave. When I board the plane, I have to notice the area so I don’t trip and can find my seat. Yet, when I am in familiar surroundings, I am on auto-pilot many times. The Torah, this week, is telling me to notice and be grateful for all the spaces, places, lives I enter all the time.
What prevents you from noticing where and when you enter a familiar space/place? Do you notice the attitudes and the impact you have on others that are in the same space as you? How can you be more aware each day?

The Parsha goes on to tell us that we have to share our bounty with others. All of us have something to bring to God and others AND we have to share this gift with everyone. Too often, we want to hoard what we have because we are afraid to lose it. Thousands of years before Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith said: “You have to give it away to keep it,” Torah was teaching us this. When we hoard, we don't give what we have a chance to grow and flourish. People hoard in many ways. This week’s Parsha is dealing with hoarding our money. We are commanded to share our food with others. We are commanded to share our wealth with those in need. As a charity that is dependent upon Tzedakah (from you and others), it is very important that we obey this commandment. We can't, however, just ask you to do all of the donating. Harriet and I donate 10 percent of our income to Tzedakah. Over five percent comes right back here to Beit T'Shuvah. I say this so that you know we are not just asking you to help us save lives; we put our money where our mouths are.
What causes you to hoard? Do you follow this command no matter how much or little you have? How do you exempt yourself from sharing food and money with others? Have you experienced the joy of seeing the fruits of your labors save/help the souls of others?

Also in these verses we are told to enjoy our bounty with the stranger and the Levite. In light of the DACA announcement, I am ashamed of how we are treating these young people. This is NOT a political statement; this is a Spiritual and Moral statement from the Torah. Caring for the Stranger is mentioned at least 36 times in the Torah. We were strangers here in America (all of us because the Indians were the indigenous people) and strangers in the Land of Egypt. We are being told to enjoy our bounty with others. This takes sharing to a whole new level! It is not enough to just give to others; we have to share, eat, and enjoy the entire experience with them. Rather than fear the stranger, we are taught to welcome them, to get to know them, and to rejoice with them. Rather than deport the stranger, we are told to embrace them. I wonder how people of faith can stand idly by the blood of their brother in this debate. I don’t know the answer; I do know that finding a solution that is in keeping with the Torah’s teaching is the only way to “walk in God’s ways,” as we are told a few verses after we learn this teaching!
With whom are we enjoying our bounty? How are we including the people who serve us, like the Levites served the People Israel? How are you walking in God’s path this week?

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Mark