Friday, January 21, 2011

Every One - and Everyone - a Treasure - January 21, 2011

From the Union for Reform Judaism-January 17, 2011
Parashat B’shalach
DAVAR ACHER (Alternate Interpretation)
Every One—and Everyone—a Treasure
Lawrence P. Karol

Over the years of my rabbinate, I have written, spoken, and composed songs about creating community. Through these kinds of activities, we can do what Rabbi Dan Levin describes (in his featured interpretation for this week) as “weaving a web of relation with each other,” which can, in turn, build a relationship with God. Weaving that web of relationships requires listening to much-needed counsel, as Moses did with his father-in-law Jethro, and, at times, “taking oneself out of the equation,” which Moses learned to do as the Israelites, united as one, promised to follow God’s commandments. Moses, the leader, was reminded that he was both a leader and, still, one of the people.

The word “listen” is prominent in Exodus 19:5, in which God declared, “ ‘V’atah im shamoa tish’m’u B’Koli—Now then, if you will obey Me faithfully [literally, “listen to My voice”] and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all the peoples.’ ” The next verse takes the special nature of the Israelite people even further: “ ‘but you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ ”

God’s words were conditional: You will be a treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy people if you keep the covenant. This parashah highlights, as integral to that covenant: truly listening to each other and to a still, small voice that offers guidance and strength, and acting upon what we hear; being humble enough to see oneself as part of the people, willing to put collective needs before personal concerns for the greater good; and recognizing that everyone has the potential to be a treasure and to offer a unique contribution and spirit that can enrich the entire community. May each of us fulfill this for ourselves and lead others along that path to creating a kahal kadosh, a sacred community, wherever we may be.

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