A few days ago, I had the pleasure of spending a little bit of time with one of my friends whom all of you know, Rabbi Zachary Goodman. We were in the backyard, his little Abe was running around with my daughter Selah, while we watched over newborn Ira. The toy car could only hold one toddler and while Selah was ‘driving’, Abe ran over to his dad and leapt into his arms. Then, reaching out with great love, he grabbed his father’s beard and pulled hard.
There are moments when Torah, in all its multitudes and voices, comes alive before our eyes. And this moment, it may surprise you, was one such example. Rather than getting upset at the irritation of having his face yanked, or embarrassed that he was now a little ruffled, Rabbi Goodman just laughed and kissed his little boy.
There is a story I read many years ago which describes the people of Israel’s relationship to God in the same way. The Hassidic master described the bond akin to one a child has with a loving parent or grandparent. God is a figure of wisdom, power and dignity deserving our respect and admiration. And yet, when we reach out and tug at the metaphorical ‘beard’ it doesn’t infuriate or embarrass God. Rather God delights in the desire that B’nai Israel wants to be close and is pleased at the reminder of our intimacy. God is delighted when we reach out, even if our actions, words, or prayers are not ‘perfect’ because it is a reminder that we, the creation/the child, are just as in love with the creator/the parent as the other way around.
This summer, thanks to the bevy of programs and opportunities here at Holy Blossom, we have the chance to continue to reach out, not only to God but also to each other. Personally, I am so excited to have the opportunity to meet many of you for the first time. I am always happy to take a walk, grab a cup of coffee, and share some stories. I’ll also have the chance, in July, to teach Talmud to our community! I hope that you’ll sign up and I promise that it will have something for everyone, from beginners to sages. Finally, in August I’ll have the chance to visit Camp George and be part of the place that has created so many wonderful memories and relationships!
Reaching out and ruffling a ‘beard’ is a sign of love. Whether we are extending our hearts to God, or reaching out physically to our community, there is never a moment when this is not desired. I hope that you’ll join all of us here at Holy Blossom this summer in building that feeling of closeness and connection!