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12.15.2017 Weekly Torah Portion

PostPosted: Fri Dec 15, 2017 10:30 pm
by RabbiMark
I am so very grateful to Barbara Friedman and Nicole Goodman for their putting together another fun, exciting and welcoming Holiday Party last night! It was wonderful sharing the Holiday Season with our staff! It is a wonderful reminder of how much we all have in common and how we continue to work together for a common purpose - to help people live well, recover their passion, and discover their purpose!

This week’s Parashah is Miketz. This translates to “at the end of.” I am thinking of this word/phrase in so many different ways this week/year. My first question is: is there ever “an end”? Yes, of course, things live and die; of course my years at Seminary are over, of course my time as a parent of an infant is over... Yet, is anything in my life (or your life) ever ended?

My father’s life ended almost fifty-two years ago AND he is so very much alive in me, my siblings, my mother, my daughter, my nieces and nephews. I graduated from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in May of 2000 AND I continue to use my learning there and stay connected to the school and other rabbinic students. My daughter Heather is an adult AND I am still trying to guide her and help her navigate life.

“At the end of” is an important phrase because it denotes a demarcation and separation of time and events. It is a good phrase for us to use so that we can let go of the past and leave the events in their proper place - especially for people in recovery. “At the end of” helps us rid ourselves of resentments and old “baggage” that weigh us down and keep us from experiencing the “sublime wonder of living,” as Rabbi Heschel teaches.

On the other hand, “at the end of” gives us the false hope of endings. It allows us to believe the lie of “if I just get through this, everything will be okay.” It leads us to more moaning and complaining during our journey. It helps us foment resentment and anger.

In our Parashah, even though Joseph becomes the #2 person in Egypt and accomplishes much, he still harbors resentments and anger towards his father and his brothers. Those resentments color the way he treats people, especially his family. He hides his true identity from his brothers and makes no attempt to contact his father. For Joseph there is no “at the end of”!

What about us? I know that every hardship (that Joseph is angry about in this Parashah) has helped to shape me into the human being I am today, and I also know that there is no “at the end of” because I am immersed in my life and learn more and more each day - Thank God! I am grateful for the hardships I experience today because they help me see more of life, find new solutions for today’s hardships, and not have to wallow in “poor me” of the past. I know that life is full of wonder and the only thing that stands in my way of experiencing “the sublime wonder of living” is ME! Because I am able and willing - even desperate - to grow each day, there is no “at the end of” for me.

Are you willing to grow each day? How do you experience the “sublime wonder of living” each day? When do you go back to wallowing in the “poor me” of your past?

What about us? I know that I have to allow each experience to stay in its proper place. I know that through the Miracle of T’Shuvah, I am able to return and have new responses to old stimuli. I know that I am “at the end of” being held captive by negativity - my own and the negativity of others. I know I am “at the end of” being eaten up by old resentments and blessed with not having any today. I know I am “at the end of” needing to be right and powerful; I am able to take my proper place and live in it fully. I know I am “at the end of” living in different compartments, and I am fully immersed in my life and living. Because I am willing, able, and desperate to be a whole human being, “at the end of” forces me to be grateful and remember that “there is something sacred at stake in every event” and to live the teachings of our tradition and Rabbi Heschel more each day.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Mark