Thursday, April 28, 2016

Goodness, sweetness and light - D'var Torah for Temple Beth-El Board Meeting - April 28, 2016

In the book of Isaiah, Chapter 5, the prophet presents a series of complaints and challenges to his people in Judah and Jerusalem.   
In the middle of his pronouncements, he declares
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.
Who present darkness as light, and light as darkness;
Who present bitter as sweet and sweet as bitter. 
Woe to those who feel they are so wise in their own opinion
So clever in their own judgment. 
     As we discussed this passage in Tanakh study on Wednesday, the first word that I mentioned in connection with these verses was "spin."  
In this passage, Isaiah noted how many of his people were turning from God's teachings, which were supposed to guide their actions. 
So a God that didn't act with the promptness that these skeptics expected was seen as uncaring. 
     Those who tried to emulate God's mercy in their behavior were viewed as weak. 
     Those who neglected the care of those in their society who needed help and support were seen as acting appropriately, even when the rules of their heritage called on them to extend their hands with generosity. 
     This week, in preparation for the Annual Meeting, I compiled a list of Temple events and programs that were held throughout the year.   It is a list that is rich in its substance.  It demonstrates the result of dedication, commitment, partnership and teamwork.   It reflects an openness of the congregation not only to members, providing moments of celebration, but also to the greater community, offering opportunities to be enlightened by new ideas and entertained by the wealth of culture embodied in our locale and by visitors to our city.   
     The question is, how will members of Temple Beth-El consider such a list? Will credit be given for our successes?  Will we learn from challenges we encountered?   Will we encourage positive partnership and teamwork at all levels of leadership and participation, which most congregations would only call good, and sweet, and reflective of the light of our heritage?  
     How we view what we do and how we do it is up to us as leaders and as members of this community.   May Isaiah's words lead us to open our hearts to the needs of one another and continue to make Temple Beth-El a place of goodness, sweetness, light and blessing.   

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