To our 9:00 am Shabbat Ark of Prayer and the Mishpacha within,
This week’s parsha is Re’eh: Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17, Isaiah 66:1-24, 1 John 4:1-6. Re’eh is Hebrew for "see"
As Moses is about to recap all of G-d’s commands, Moses needs the People to see clearly and does not want them to become lost in the details. So he boils them down into two simple choices each with their own consequence. He says to choose life or choose death.
To choose life is to follow the L-rd’s commandments and to follow the process of sanctification. But that needs total loyalty to G-d and His law. That is the only way we avoid decay, decline and defeat as individuals and as a congregation.
The point of the 613 commandments was sanctification of all aspects of life, from daily ritual to the very structure of society and its institutions. The aim was to shape a social world in which even seemingly secular occasions are turned into encounters with the Divine presence.
The regular practice of tzedakah (charity) and the forgiving of debts, I believe, was intended to provide a dignified society of people that cared for one another as mishpachah (family). This is also a strong value at Temple.
My experience has been that if I am only focused on my needs I drift into living a life that becomes less and less G-d honoring. But when I make regular choices to help others, however I can, I become more close to the L-rd. I do not know why this is true but only that it is true, at least in my life. This principle of commitment to selfless service is also seen in successful recovery programs.
I believe a foundational value in Judaism is that each person is to take ownership for the spiritual and physical well-being of those around them … a mutual responsibility.
To be mutually responsible requires that the community spend time together. So we see over and over in this week’s parsha, that G-d tells the Israelites to worship together in only the place He designates. Frequently, the worship includes eating together.
I have found in my life that communal worship is very important to my wellbeing and my ability to live life in a G-d honoring way. It also keeps my theology consistent with Biblical principles and is generally a place of encouragement when I am struggling as well as a place I can be helpful to others so I am not exclusively focused on only my needs.
Moses says the people cannot survive as a nation among other nations, worshipping what they worship and living as they live. I believe that this is just as true for TAJ and is part of the reason Rabbi holds so firmly to his vison of what TAJ should look like and how it should function.
Our lives are determined not by what happens to us but by how we respond to what happens to us – and how we respond depends on how we interpret events. Is this disaster the end of my world or is it life calling on me to exercise heroic strength so that I can survive and help others to survive? The same circumstances may be interpreted differently by two people, leading one to despair, the other to heroic endurance.
Strong families, communities and leaders have a clear sense of what their ideals are, and they are not blown off-course by the winds of change. As the “leaves” blow onto the TAJ lawn from other types of worship, theologies, priorities and relationship problems, they must be continually gathered or they will bury and kill the lawn. This is a very real threat which we see happening in other fellowships around us.
My experience and observation is that neither love nor joy come on a personal or social scale without codes of self-restraint and commitment to the common good … a commitment to G-d and his leadership.
I hope if you that are able, you will join the 9:00 am Shabbat Teva Tefillah. We pray for the Temple, for Israel and our government.
Blessings to you and yours. May this week be G-d filled and may you have your leaf blower on high as you groom your own lawn.
Your brother in Yeshua in the TEVA TEFILLAH,
Posted on Wed, August 20, 2014
by Kurt Wilson