- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On November 11, 2016
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings!
Sir Jonathan Sacks, former chief rabbi of England, wrote a book about and entitled, the Dignity of Difference. It expresses a truth that in order for civilizations and communities to thrive, we must celebrate our differences. He speaks of the positive outcome of the Tower of Babel when the people are dispersed and no longer speak the same language. For him, it is not epluribus unum but rather eunum pluribus. Out of one come many. Made in the image of God, we are connected, and through our diversity, a different kind of understanding emerges.
Rabbi Saks teaches us that the diffusion of the people has its merits. He says, “The glory of the created world is its astonishing multiplicity: the thousands of different languages spoken by humankind, the proliferation of cultures, the sheer variety of the imaginative expressions of the human spirit, in most of which, if we listen carefully, we will hear the voice of wisdom telling us something we need to know.” (page 20)
Sometimes, however, there are differences, which are like a wave that drowns us.
What happens when we are astonished, in disbelief by what another does and says? What if our breath is taken away by how many others support ideas, attitudes, and behaviors we cannot fathom? There is no synergy, dialectic, or paradox in our difference, just a rupture, which has the potential to create a great gulf between us.
The prophet, Isaiah, spoke these divine words, to the people in exile. Removed from a life they could only dream of, he recognized that there were those in great pain.
For a little while I forsook you.
But with vast love I will bring you back.
In slight anger, for a moment, I hid My face from you.
But with kindness everylasting, I will take you back in love.
Says the Eternal Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:7-8)
And so it goes with us. There are moments in life, in our existence on this planet, in our country and in our community when we feel forsaken, lost, and unhinged.
But we are here because there is an inextricable link, a sacred thread of vast love and kindness everlasting moving through us and between us.
For some, there is darkness while for others, in this moment, exaltation.
No matter which,
We are here because we are bridge builders.
We are healers of that vast gulf that divides us.
We sit together because God, as Redeemer, reminds us
I will take you back in love.
We need love right now
and there are others who need our love now, too.
With support, protection, and empathy:
The stranger, the vulnerable, the exiled,
The one who sits on the outside of the circle
and the one right next to us, too.
Whatever the outcome of this election was going to be, these sacred values do not change.
They challenge us to find the strength of our tradition to guide us on this path–and there is great strength in Judaism to lead us and gather us to go forward. We cannot be diverted from caring, devotion, and justice.
Rebbe Nachman taught:
The world is a narrow bridge, but what is most important is not to be afraid.
Let us remember, that the world is the bridge, narrow as it might be, but it is a bridge to hope, to strength, and always to possibility.
May Shabbat open that possibility for all of us.
Qabbalat Shabbat begins at 6pm.
I also encourage you to check out Torah study on Saturday morning. It starts at 9am with a short, informal morning service and then moves into an engaging, welcoming and inclusive Torah study for everyone and anyone led this week by our Israeli colleague and friend, Rabbi Oshrat Morag from Haifa.
I welcome your comments, reflections and thoughts. Connect with me here.