The truth is G-d, I feel that I spend so much of my time trying to “promote” Judaism to others. I’m always trying to get people to “join” our community and participate more because I know the value of doing so; sometimes, it feels more like I’m in “sales” than the rabbinate; I’m constantly trying to “sell” Judaism to others.
We were heavily criticized by some in the Jewish community for meeting with Palestinians and other Arabs, and some of our Arab partners were likewise criticized for meeting with Jews, particularly Jews who supported Israel. A few members dropped out, but most of us persisted despite disagreements. More important, as we talked to our Jewish friends and others about what we were doing, the climate did start to change.
As we move forward into the future, whatever it may be, may we remember: to walk uprightly, to act justly; to speak words of truth, to be sincere; to not slander or bring shame on others; to conduct our business honorably; to challenge those who break the law, and honor those who honor Creation; to keep our word, to not exploit others, nor take bribes. To strive, as best as we are able, to move through the world with integrity.
Fire has rained down from the heavens. Rivers have run with blood. This is not a baby’s book of cute animals waddling onto the Ark. This is a Torah of Horror.
It is only on the condition that we remember that we have been given all of the blessings that come with freedom. Let us use that freedom, then, to work for the blessings of freedom for all peoples.
God never made sense to me, but religion does. The conversion worked in the end because Judaism is not a dogmatic religion. There is no belief requirement, just belief conversations. What really matters is ethics and community.
It’s not just what we take a stand for, but how we take our stand, how we show up, both physically and metaphorically, that really matters.
Like the tallis that we will be wrapped in at death, this ethical fabric we weave will envelop the story of our life. My friends, make it beautiful, a “coat of many colors” But make sure that one of the spirit holes leads to the insight that Mohammad Ali opened for us: “Float like a Butterfly/Sting like a bee.” –this sage advised. Yes, but we must pray to HaShem to give us the wisdom to lead a life knowing when is the right time to do which.
Journeys are an interesting thing. Just when you think you’re in a groove, at a safe comfortable cruising speed or altitude, something happens to change it up.
Even though G-d confronts Sarah, she isn’t punished for laughing. Maybe her laughter made sure she got her baby. Maybe her laugh was like a dare, and the challenge made G-d really want to make good on the promise.