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3.9.2018 Weekly Torah Portion

PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:41 pm
by RabbiMark
My gratitude this week goes out to the members of our latest Cohort of the Elaine Breslow Institute. We have had five people from across the country immerse themselves in the Beit T’Shuvah program to learn how we deal with the Addiction/Opioid Crisis we find ourselves in. These five leaders of their communities have enhanced our program, and I am so grateful that they have learned with us and our residents in how to Live Well.

I am also very grateful to Julie Soter, Rabbi Matt Shapiro, Rabbi Micha’el Akiva, Rabbi Iggy Gurin, Chaplain Adam Siegel, Dr. David Friedman, Douglas Rosen, Harriet Rossetto, and our residents and staff who participated and led sessions this week.

Of course, Nicole Goodman, our EBI program director, is the spark plug of these immersions. Nicole has planned and executed an amazing week for our participants and enhances each immersion every time.

This week’s Parashah is VaYakel/Pekudei. This translates to “convoke/account.” This week we read a double Parashah and we end the book of Exodus.

After the Golden Calf and Moses’ rage at the people - as well as God’s disappointment - the parashah begins with VaYakel: Moses convenes the entire community to begin the building of the Mishkan, the Holy Ark inside the Tent of Meeting. Herein we experience the Divine Compassion of God. Unlike human beings, who when hurt or defied want to get even, destroy the “enemy,” withdraw their support, God tells Moses to have the people congregate and begin the building of the Mishkan, which is actually a Re-Building of community and connection. WOW!

Rabbi Heschel teaches us that God is in Search of Man/Humans. Here is one of the many proof-texts of this Truth for me. God wants us to remember who we are: Divine Reminders and Divine Needs.
God wants us to know that even the “biggest screw-up” - Idolatry, doesn’t mean we can’t return to our highest self and connection to God and each other. The people, then and now, are being shown that t’shuvah - return and new responses - is always available to and for us.

Why then do we leave the fold?

Because we can’t stand to be reminded of our failures, and instead of using failures to move forward, we live in shame for our “missing the mark.” It is easier for many people to blame the ones we have disagreements with and blame the victim than to be responsible for our actions. Over and over again in our Holy Torah, we see God’s Compassion and Pathos towards us - we have the examples and we have the path to return - yet we don’t use them!

There are many people who leave Temples because of disagreements and/or lack of knowing that they are responsible for being part of a community. We need to change our ways and use the examples of the Israelites in the Desert to face our failures, to stay and wrestle with our leaders and community members and, most of all, to continue to be in relationship with God.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Mark