- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On May 8, 2020
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, our weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat. You can listen to it as a podcast HERE.
Remember learning multi-syllabic words for those standardized tests? Or worse, for the weekly vocab tests? (Do they still do that?) Here’s a useful word to apply to life right now.
It means to express or intend to promote a particular cause or point of view, especially a controversial one.
We all have perspectives of certain situations. How we convey those perceptions reflects back on us. Do we allow any opening for a different assessment or are we so sure that nothing anyone can say could convince us otherwise? The rabbis of whose statements make up Pirkei Avot, the ethical teachings of the rabbis of the Talmud, assist in navigating how we learn and how we convey our opinions. During the time between Passover and Shavuot, we study this treasure trove of wise ideas from the Mishnah. We are in the fourth week so we look at the fourth chapter.
The first line jumps off the page with an ancient message for our own day. Ben Zoma said “Who is wise?” One who learns from every person. (4:1) Those who think they know without consulting experts and informed advisors are not wise. They spend their days tying themselves up in tendentious knots of circular and partisan reasoning. As one commentator noted, it is evident that [a wise person’s] desire for enlightenment is genuine, and not a mere pretext for inflating his self-esteem and vanity. (Pinchas Kehati, Pirkei Avot, pg 154)
Another rabbi a few verses later in Pirkei Avot used to say: …And do not say: Accept my opinion!—for it is for them to decide, and not you. (4:8) Domineering and arrogant leaders believe they can command people to accept their perspective without considering someone else’s opinion. The rabbis understood that one should not enforce an opinion on someone else. Rabbi Meir said, “…be humble of spirit before every person…(4:10) This goes back to the first line of the chapter, Who is wise? Without the wisdom of others, hubris and pretentiousness overtake us.
This is no way to exist or to lead.
In moments like the one in which we live right now, we need true and solid leaders who are willing to learn from others and not create or pervert the facts. We need those who do not tell us to think like them. We need those who do not waste their energy or our time on subjective and slanted rants. We need the modest over the self-aggrandizing. We need those who tend toward wisdom rather than tendentiousness.
* Join us for Qabbalat Shabbat at 6:00 p.m. with musical guest Elana Arian. We can pray together HERE on the Temple Israel website or HERE on Zoom or even HERE on TI’s Facebook page. Or, just find it all on the website www.tisrael.org/TogetherWithTI . We all look forward to sharing Shabbat with you.
* Riverway gathers from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m. for Riverway Re-Charge HERE.
* The Village gathers at 5:00 p.m. for a Shabbat story and blessings HERE.
* On Saturday morning, join us at 9:00 a.m. for a short Shabbat morning service and a lively discussion. To join the conversation interactively, access HERE to Zoom. You will be amazed by how well and easy it is to participate and comment. You can also watch HERE on Temple Israel’s website or HERE on TI’s Facebook page.
* Celebrate Shabbat as a family with TGIS with Wayne Potash at 10:00 a.m. HERE.
We have a robust resource page on our website HERE. It contains organizations and places to find assistance. As always, we are here to help.
How are you doing? Connect with me HERE.