Sunday, May 17, 2009

Building Walls and Hiding behind them

Earlier on Friday, just before Shabbat, a friend of mine, who happens to be an absolutely terrifically talented writer, asked me why it seems that she writes her best pieces when she feels Divine Inspiration, (understandable), and why it seems (to her) that she can only be truly inspired when she completely lets go of emotion and physical being.

We discussed the inner אור התורה , the Light of Torah that we all possess, and we discussed the possibilities that the walls of self defense that we all seem to build around ourselves may be getting in the way of our allowing ourselves to feel G-d's light. And then we discussed how it may have been for our Forefathers - Our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and so forth.

What did they have to do see G-d's light? Did they have walls to tear down? They clearly had episodes of non-belief; Times in which they acted in not the most "Holy" of ways, and for one reason, and one reason alone, they were able to repent and again find favor in the eyes of G-d: They were human. Humans make mistakes. Jacob deceived his brother to gain a Birthright; Moses lost his temper (on more than one occasion); Aaron helped in the construction of the golden calf.

When these scenarios were brought up to my friend the writer, who happens to be a very serious Baalat Teshuvah, she literally flipped! I had not been called so many names since I stood in nets at Joe Louis Arena and tried to stop 100MPH spheres of galvanized rubber with my body! All because I had the audacity to refer to our Torah Heroes as "HUMAN".

Just about thirty-eight or so days ago, as we all sat at our respective Seder tables and read from our Hagadot, we recalled how Rabbi Hillel in a discussion with a potential Conversion student told the young man that the basic idea of Torah is to treat others as you would wish to be treated, and to not cause a happening which you hate to be bestowed on another. This, of course has been called by many names, the most popular of which is "The Golden Rule".

Let's take a look at this "Golden Rule", shall we? Do unto others, as you would..., right?

How do the following play into the "Golden Rule"?

1. Lashon HaRa - According to Wikipedia, Lashon HaRa is is the prohibition in Jewish Law of telling gossip. We all do it, right? Gossip? We try not to, but let's be serious. We all need to work on this one in order to follow the "GR".

2. Road Rage - Do you have "Road Rage"? Do you get upset at other drivers who might not be as agile behind the wheel as you are? When was the last time you showed that middle finger to the Jerk in the 2.5 ton Ford Pick-'Em-Up with the souped up wheels? You and I would need a ladder just to get into the cab, right? Let's cut the guy some slack. He is the knucklehead having to fill up every other day at $75 bucks a pop! I think that he's secretly jealous of our Priuses.

3. The Non-Member Know-It-All-Snowbird Minyanaire who complains about everything - We all have one of these guys, right? He shows up around Thanksgiving and leaves after Mothers' Day. He means well, but does he ever put a Dollar or even a Quarter into the Pushke? He doesn't really rate in this quiz, but he's annoying, and at 2am on a Sunday, annoying works for me. I think the way to help this guy understand the "GR" is to kill him with kindness. Then, the next time we see him, and for the balance of his stay, have our kids put membership packets on his windshield!

4. The Phone Message, Text Message, E-Mail Message receiver, who will NOT reply to us, unless he or she wants something FROM us - This one is tricky, as it always brings us into the "GR" Zone. I actually find these folks the rudest of them all. Believe you , me--- When they want from US, they call, SMS, Page, E-Mail and call again. They find us on FaceBook, MySpace, Twitter, Spitter... They find us in the bath tub, at the Yankees game, at a movie while we are buying popcorn--- They even find us in Shul! Of course, since we are all steadfast believers of the "GR", we actually ANSWER our phones and e-mails! Do they? NEVER! How do we fix this? Well... Unfortunately, I believe the only way to deal with the "Non-Caller-Backer", is to play his game right back at him. Of course, it probably won't work, because we are more courteous in that regard.

5. And finally, last, but certainly not least, our friends who are so into this new thing (to them) called "Yiddishkeit", that all of their Halakhic Rules come straight from Reb Yussel (if your name is Reb Yussel, apologies in advance, you are supposed to be fictional) who engrains into their head facts like how many times one is supposed to pray for this or that on a day when the sun comes up 1.4 minutes later than expected. Heaven forbid that WE tell them otherwise... We will become instant heretics and forever be branded Anti-Semetic. In these cases, how may we hold onto the "GR"? We don't. We leave well enough alone, and when they find their own way back and into our Shuls and Communities, we can teach them what our vision of Love for Ohr HaTorah in our hearts and minds.

Which brings us back to the topic of walls. Defensive walls; Offensive walls; Why do we build them? Why do we hide behind them? Maybe, just maybe we do, because we are afraid of facing others who may not practice the "GR" as we would like, and if we build a wall to keep their thoughts from connecting with our emotions, we feel ourselves safe.

What we must, however, remember, is that as long as our walls are up, we will have a harder time connecting with G-d and with the Ohr HaTorah that resides in each of us.

As we mature, our light at times brightens; and on occasion it fades, but never does it leave us. It rests within us, and calls upon us to ask for guidance, which it is more than happy to provide.

From the Midbar that we call Arizona, I wish you all Shavuah Tov.

Ahavah u'Vrachot...


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