By Rachel Goldman Neubauer
I had a discussion with a rabbi this past week that really had me appreciating the Beit T’Shuvah community even more than usual.He was describing to me a particularly standard response from a congregant to studying some realm of Jewish spirituality. “…but Rabbi, I live in the real world…” which is usually followed by something along the lines of “where I need to make a living” or “where I need to think of my business.” He then stated that in order to move someone into a more spiritual realm, you need to ‘break down’ that concept of “the real world.”
I thought about my own concept of the “real world” which, ironically, I found summed up pretty well on a Lululemon shopping bag. “Friends are more important than money.” I think about all of the times that I am or have been broken, and how the thought of money usually ends up either distracting me from growing out of my brokenness, or leading me into a deeper fracture. Yes, success in business can give you a sense of purpose; however, friends, family, and community are there to hold you when you cry when something goes south. Sure, they say that “money talks," but money doesn’t listen like friends do. I guess this is something you have to be broken in order to really internalize.
I then realized how lucky Beit T’Shuvah is. Most people come to Beit T’Shuvah broken in one way or another. They actually have the opportunity to realize that it isn’t just money that makes the world go ‘round.’ It’s life, it’s death, it’s friends, it’s family, it’s community, it’s connection. Those that don’t come overtly broken seem to catch on to this switch in perception, and they actually start to LOOK for the broken parts in them. When people come to services at Beit T’Shuvah for the first time, they often say it’s just so “real”…and I think I finally understand what they mean by that. It’s not something we necessarily advertise or say out loud…but walk around Beit T’Shuvah for a half hour and you will probably feel this sense of a “real world.” I’m happy I get to be a part of that world.