By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
In the Jewish world we are entering the period of Nachama—comfort after commemorating the destruction of the temples on Tisha B'Av. We are also involved in preparation for the High Holidays. Our world, right now, is anything but comforting. As individuals, we can argue on either side of the different issues facing us, and most of us do. It is hard to be a Jew right now, I believe, because of the situation in the Middle East, the situation in the Ukraine and the situation in America. Yet, I believe that our tradition brings us comfort for these times as well as good times.
I want to share my definition of comfort with you. Comfort, for me, is being able to deal with situations in ways that honor the individual, the community and God all at the same time. In fact, in my practice of Judaism, this is the only way to live Nachama! Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says that to be human means making the interests of others our concerns. God hears the cries of the widow, orphan, poor and the stranger. Putting these two maxims together brings me to my definition. Comfort doesn't wait for resolution or "winning" the battle; rather, it is understanding how do I live into the situations of life that honors my soul, my community, my world and God? It means that I/we have to go beyond special interests, ours and others, and live as part of God and the living organisms that God created: the world. We need to remember that we are Divine Needs and Reminders of God. We have to return to God's original intent for us, being a light unto the nations and caring for our corner of the world.
What an order!! None of us can fulfill this completely, however, we can do our part. How we get to this place, in this time, according to our Tradition is through T’Shuvah. As we head into the month of Elul, we have to take an inventory of ourselves as individuals and as communities. We have to become Addicted to Redemption in order to lead others to redemption. We have to see what we do well and what we need to repair. We have to go from being fixers, which I define as needing to make the results their way, to repairing people, which is always looking for solutions instead of being right. We can only do this by starting with ourselves. We can do this and this time of year, in the Jewish calendar, is welcoming of these efforts. The situations are serious and it will take serious thinking and collaboration to find the proper solutions for them.
I ask you to join me in taking our own inventories and repairing our selves, our communities, and our world together.