Repentance is first and foremost about personal change. What’s remarkable in this, as in the Hineni, is that it’s built on trusting the true intentions of another person. We are not commanded to “forgive and forget.” Instead, we’re given steps to follow to change ourselves and work towards earning forgiveness.
As God is giving instructions to the people about how to live and work together in the Land of Israel, we are reminded: “No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it.” What a perfect way to illustrate the notion of being in sync with yourself.
As much as we might like to keep adjusting and fixing, The Torah reminds us not to jump into crafting and changing things the second we see them, but instead take time to notice the ways in which a little crack here or a weird corner there can actually be holy too.
This week’s Torah portion reminds us that we are to find the balance between the frustrations of changes in plans (or detours, if you will) and the purpose in creating a community that works for everyone.
The last few years have certainly highlighted the differences between communal space and personal space, and community needs versus individual needs. Judaism is a religion of both communal gathering and connection as well as individual prayer. This balance is part of what makes us the people we are.
For our family, Portland is where we’ve lived the longest collectively, and yet, plenty of Jewish families have been here for generations, so we don’t feel like natives in comparison. So when does that milestone moment occur? The Torah anticipates this question as the Israelites continue their journey toward a land they’ve not inhabited in multiple generations.