Please note that our Covid policies have changed. While the building is still officially “closed” in a global sense, we are reopening for services and select programs. Please read our communications carefully to stay abreast of current opportunities.
As a kid I used to love those brain teaser books that showed you one small part of a bigger picture, and you had to guess what the big picture was. Now that the world is starting to open again and more restrictions are lifted, we’re almost at the point where we can once again see the big picture. And as one of the people who has been fortunate to have the vantage point of looking out at our community in its entirety, I can’t wait to have that view again.
We often talk about how the pain of the present can affect future generations, but we don’t often think that our past can feel our current pain. This week our Torah portion sends us a hopeful message, especially as we’re finally renewing relationships with people in person.
If there are atrocities, if there is corruption, by all means, call it out. On the other hand, private, deliberate, and strategic rebukes have their places too. It doesn’t seem to be the preferred method in an age driven by social media and every minute news, but if this week’s Torah portion teaches anything, it’s that the measured response deserves a seat at the table.
Like Joshua and Caleb reminding the Israelites how strong and courageous they are, Parshat Shlach Lecha is a reminder that our perspectives of ourselves are sometimes so skewed that they leave reality in the dust. As we reopen our communities and see each other more often face to face, let’s remember that the version of someone you’re seeing might not be the version of themselves they saw for the last 15 months.
Strange thoughts occur during a pandemic. Early on, in the first weeks of shutdown when we didn’t know much, we placed a container of bleach water outside the house and dipped our shoes in it before reentering the house. The panic and concern were so heightened back then. At the same time, a segment featuring Dr. Sanjay Gupta demonstrated how to wipe down food containers after a shopping run.
We tend to base our interactions with other people on our history with them and on situational context, but Parshat Beha’alotcha teaches us that our work as citizens of the world is to extend generosity, love, and compassion everywhere, especially when there is struggle or strife. You would want the same extended to you.