…and notes on an anniversary for this blog
I started this blog on June 27, 2010, thinking about my Jewish journey and where it might take me, and stopped some two years later, right after I started rabbinical school.
On this date five years ago I wrote my first weekly email to my congregation, and I have not missed a week since. I was in Oregon at a rabbinical school retreat and there had been several tragedies in the Jewish world, and I felt moved to reach out to them. Since then I have written from Seoul, Berlin, Jerusalem, London, and other cities, and many, many times from right here in Sarasota. About three years ago I revived this blog and began posting the weekly emails here as well.
On July 4th 2014, as well as many times in the early years, I didn’t even mention the Torah portion. Sometimes that still happens, although usually I try to relate the Torah portion to our own lives, try to find meanings in this ancient document that speak to us today.
Often the message from the Torah portion has to do with issues of leadership. This certainly is true this week, which tells the story of Korah and his followers confronting Moses and Aaron and saying to them, “You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them, and the Lord is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above the Lord’s congregation?” (Numbers 16:3).
It’s not that Korah was entirely wrong when he confronted Moses. It was his approach that was at fault. That is often the problem when we confront each other – rather than reach out calmly and engage in an honest discourse, we lash out. It’s entirely natural and human. We lead with our emotions.
Poor Moses, who was probably fed up with the Children of Israel by this point, wasn’t able to respond calmly and lashed out at Korah, set up a show down, and ended with, “You have gone too far, son of Levi!” Again, an entirely natural response. Of course, Moses was supposed to be above such emotions. But even he was human.
We do our best. And when we don’t, when we forget to be our highest selves, we have a chance to make amends (with ourselves and with others), to start over, to try again. That’s the beauty of being human.
May we be blessed to forgive ourselves when we sink low, and try again.