By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Reading the front cover article of the Jewish Journal sparked a lively conversation between my wife, Harriet Rossetto, and myself. It also sparked an internal dialogue within me. What is our fascination with lists and how do we let them determine our own self-worth? Even though the "Rabbi's List" has no real meaning, no weight, nothing really to it except the abuse of power, influence and media attention; I still find myself checking it and getting angry that I and many of my most deserving colleagues aren't on it! I think it is about 51/49 between me and my colleagues with me not being on it the 51%:). There are lists of the best places to go to and the best hotels to stay at, etc. Every category of life has lists, except maybe lists of how to care for others, lists of how I have harmed others, lists of the ways we can improve our world. Those lists don't seem to get as much attention.
I want to be on a list! I know I am on lists of people who feel both gratitude and resentment towards me. I know I influence people to live well. I also know I check all of the lists that come out to see if my organization, my name, my friend’s names, the places I have seen and visited, my ideas and ideals, etc. are on the multitude of lists that come out. What is wrong here?
We are a world obsessed with outside validation. We are a people who need outside validation to feel okay about ourselves. We are people who judge our insides by the outsides of others. We are, unfortunately, not validating our own intrinsic worth. We are, sadly, not honoring the wisdom God has given us.
Passover is 10 days away. How do we get out of these slaveries? By knowing we are not stuck in the narrow places of lists. Knowing that the four people mentioned in the cover article of the Jewish Journal are not the "great arbiters" of influence, even though they are engaging in influence peddling. We get out of slavery by Redeeming ourselves and each other through honest self-assessment, asking for help from others and allowing our inner Moses and God-Wisdom (our soul knowledge) to lead us instead of our false pride, our emotional attachment to outside validation and our cunning thoughts on how to "get ahead.” I am Addicted to Redemption because I need to be engaged in Redemption each day in order to not "turn back to Egypt.”
Please join us these next two weeks for our many events including 3 Seders, a learning about Technology's enslaving nature this Monday evening and a special showing of Hava Nagila, the movie and a discussion with Roberta Grossman and Marta Kaufman afterwards on Thursday, March 21, 2013. Thanks and Shabbat Shalom.
For a full list of our upcoming events as well as ways to find tickets visit www.beittshuvah.org