Friday, June 15, 2012

D’var Torah – June 15, 2012 – Wrapping ourselves in the warmth of community

“The Eternal One said to Moses as follows: 
Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them
to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments
throughout the ages; let them attach 
a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. 
That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall
all the commandments of the Eternal One and observe them,
so that you do not follow your heart and eyes 
and give in to urge and temptation.”
The fringes on the corner of the tallit
Are attached to a sacred garment
In which we can wrap ourselves 
to physically feel warmth and God’s embrace.
Our heritage, our prayers, 
our presence with each other in community
And our mutual support for one another
Are like a tallit.
We feel that warmth when we truly care about each other
When we choose our words carefully
When we are long in patience
And quick in forgiveness
And when we act with kindness and selflessness.
Yet, there are times when we may find ourselves tempted 
to be like 10 of the scouts who entered the land of Canaan
To see what the future home of the Israelites was like, 
to collect information about the land and its people.
For two scouts, Caleb and Joshua, all looked well: for them, 
entry into the land was possible and they had limitless faith 
in their eventual settlement there.
But their 10 companions were overcome with fear. 
These supposedly courageous leaders saw a beautiful land
In which the Israelites would find no comfortable place 
amid fortified cities
And people who appeared to tower over them.
Sometimes, our uncertainties and challenges 
may lead us to be like the scouts
Who told their people to remain where they were, 
not to move forward.
Our apprehension may render us unable 
to see the positives, the joys that are around us, 
focusing only on the obstacles in our way.
From such a vantage point,
we may interpret communal or individual strengths as weaknesses,
and stress only failure in a sea of success. 
Still, it may be that the greater community is waiting 
for our personal contribution
To collective warmth and caring
Where our potential for optimism enables us 
to add to a shared sense of spirit.
We are commanded in the Torah to look at the fringes and to recall God’s commandments and acknowledge the godly paths we can follow.
Those paths inspired by mitzvot/commandments 
can help us move forward
When we act with conviction and compassion 
and when we recognize the special gifts
That each of us brings to community.
May we be scouts who see the goodness in one another
So that we can feel the warmth,
the communal embrace that can wrap around our souls
And unite us on Shabbat 
and throughout the days and years of our lives.  

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