By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
I spent a few days last week in West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, Florida. Harriet and I were speaking at a conference on Addiction Treatment and then at Temple B’Nai Torah in Boca. On both days, I was struck by the amount of people interested in Relevant Judaism and Recovery as a way of being for all people. The amount of people who are seeking connection is probably no more than ever, yet, the openness and longing for connection among all people is more palpable than I can remember.
What is happening? I think it is summed up by the events in our country right now, the shutdown of government, the shutdown of upward mobility, the shutdown of caring for the stranger, the poor, the widow and the orphan. People are aware of and have been given permission to speak about the disconnect that is happening between government and the people, the disconnect between ethnicities, the disconnect between the haves and have nots. The great difference is that people have been given and have used their voices to speak about this lack of connection. It is not only in the grand categories, however, it is in the inter and intra personal lives we lead.
There is a solution and we have it. It is called Living a Jewish Life. I say Jewish because I am a Rabbi and a Jew. I say Jewish because Torah is, as my wife Harriet Rossetto says in her book, Sacred Housekeeping, the Big Book of Jewish Recovery. Torah is the foundation of the three Western Religions and is, I believe, the foundation of living a life of integrity.
When we live a Jewish life, we are connected to ourselves, our true self, our community and the world. We are engaged in BEING the light of our soul and Being a light to/for others. We are not concerned with labels and ideologies; we are concerned about the interests of others and our entire world.
At Temple B’Nai Torah, above the Ark, are the words, Da Lifne Mi Atah Omed; “Know before Whom you stand.” We are always standing before God. And, we are always standing before ourselves. We are always standing before others in whom is the tzelem, the image, of the Divine. Last week, as I stood before the Congregation, I had a new understanding of this phrase. I realized that I forget this Truth during my daily life and I need to live it more. I forget that my deeds and words constantly impact others and myself. I forget that connection to others is one of my greatest needs.
I ask you and commit to you to remember this phrase and our own need for connection more often each day. I ask you to hold me and yourselves to this standard of living. Doing this, we will find solutions to our challenges, we will create a circle wide enough for everyone to be in and we will live connected and joyful lives