By Rabbi Mark Borovitz
Hi, my name is Mark and I am an Alcoholic/Criminal in Recovery, a Rabbi, a son, a brother, a father, a husband, a friend, an uncle, a cousin, and a nephew. I am starting this blog in this way because we begin a new Book of the Torah this week, Shemot. This Book is called Exodus in English and the Hebrew, Shemot, translates as Names. This week, as I celebrate my 25th year of Sobriety and Living Well, I am thinking about the names I call myself as well as the names I am called. Not all of the names that I call myself, nor that I am called, are as nice/benign as those mentioned above.
This has got me thinking about names. In the Jewish Tradition, we are taught that there are 3 crowns: the crowns of Priesthood, Royalty and Wealth; yet, the Crown of a Good Name exceeds them all. What name have we made for ourselves? I am in deep contemplation of this question and want to explore it more, so I am going to use some of the above names and some of the not nice names as well.
1) Alcoholic/criminal in Recovery—I/we am a person who strayed far from the path of decency and has returned to life with passion, purpose and staying power. I/we have changed from a me centered life to a we centered life. I/we keep a conscious contact with doing the next right thing and knowing we are imperfect. I/we live a life of transparency and live with paradoxes, no longer hiding from reality.
2) Rabbi—I am a teacher and leader. I am a learner and an arguer. I listen to the souls of others as well as my own soul. I live a life of principles and am unafraid to be seen in my entirety: flaws and warts, brilliance and truth.
3) Loud/obnoxious/angry—I get out of control when I feel threatened, sometimes. I get all of these things when I see evil happening and nothing is being done to stop it, in my opinion. I act out in these ways when I can't sit back and take a breath.
4) Hustler—I was a hustler for me and against you and God. In the last 25 years, I have changed my hustle—now I hustle for your soul and for God.
5) No Goodnik—I call myself this whenever I don't get it right. When someone relapses, I ask myself what could I/we have done better. I compare myself with others and always come up short. Even though I know this is wrong to do, I sometimes fall back into this old trap.
6) Baal T’Shuvah—A master of T’Shuvah. I/we admit when I/we am wrong, when I/we miss the mark and make a plan to repair the damage and not repeat the same exact error. I/we acknowledge that I/we am human and am grateful to God and others for my/our humanity.
7) Family member/friend—I/we hold God and others together in the same moment. I/we make sure that the interests of others become my concerns. I/we show up for others and allow others to rebuke, help and guide/teach us. I/we are unafraid to be seen and welcome intimacy and Truth. I/we are leaders in the cause of Human Rights and Human Needs. I/we live a life that answers the Question of God- "What good did life get out of you?" with a resounding "more good than negative!”
Jewish Tradition also says we have our given names and the names come from our deeds/actions. This is the name we make for ourselves. I am Addicted to Redemption because I want my name to be, most of all, MENSCH! I'm not there yet, just a work in progress. Please join me in this work!
We welcome your feedback.
Your information will not be shared or sold without your consent. Get all the details.
Terms of Service
JewishJournal.com has rules for its commenting community.Get all the details.
JewishJournal.com reserves the right to use your comment in our weekly print publication.