Navigating Boundaries Together
One of my high school teachers recently posted, looking for answers in the Bible to rejection, suffering, and eventual redemption. While many posted with Christian resources, I couldn’t help but think of this 9th day of Av which we had just passed.
The 9th of Av is an introduction, in many ways, to the themes of the High Holy Days – of rejection and redemption.
While we are quickly moving from the closed to the open there are so many annoyances and perturbations that stand in our paths towards a feeling of complete freedom.
Though we understand them and see them as important, many are asking the same question that Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah all asked, “Eichah” -Why?
In a summary by Rabbi Haim Shalom, we read from Jeremiah (Yirmiyah): “נַחְנוּ פָשַׁעְנוּ וּמָרִינוּ אַתָּה לֹא סָלָחְתָּ.”
“We have sinned and rebelled. You did not forgive.”
Why should we be like Yirmi? Because Yirmi recognizes that there are two sides to all disagreements. Yirmi recognizes that G-d can be wrong. But Yirmi doesn’t try and pretend that we are innocent. Yirmi is telling us that we must hold up justice on both sides at all times – we must defend both the “parent” (G-d) and the “child” (the Jewish people) and hold both to account.
Jeremiah is discussing the Temple and the Land of Israel.
But our “why” in this season is both national and personal. As we start marching towards the High Holy Days, we’re at a different place than we were a year ago, but still not in the place we wish we were.
What Rabbi Shalom and the prophet Jeremiah are alluding to is a deep idea of brit – covenant. The covenant between the Jewish people and the Source of Righteousness is supreme here – but also the covenant we all have with each other as part of a society.
That covenant is a give and a take, and we need to be expressive with our own needs, and to check in with one another, to make sure that everyone we are including in our plans is comfortable.
As we keep the idea of brit in mind, we both are able to demand for ourselves what we need, but do so in a way that also respects the needs of others. With this concept in mind, our community both here in Canada and in Israel is stronger.
I am looking forward to seeing many of you in person soon, as the synagogue re-opens, in a way that keeps us all feeling safe and responsible to one another.