Posts Tagged 'Rav Nachman'

Inner Priest: Looking for the Little Bit of Special

There is a wonderful teaching by Rav Nachman of Breslov in which he writes:

Know that you must judge all people favorably. This applies even to the worst of people. You must search until you find some little bit of good in them. In that good place inside them, they are not bad! If you can just find this little bit of good and judge them favorably, you really can elevate them and swing the scales of judgment in their favor. This way you can bring them back to God. (Likutey Moharan I:282)

It is amazing to think that in each and everyone of us there is something special. Rav Nachman is asking us to be less judgative and more curious about the people around us.

I was thinking about this Torah when reading Emor, this week’s Torah portion. There we read a whole lot of laws regarding the person and conduct of the Priests. To many this is troubling in the adulation of one particular form of perfection. But in thinking about it this week I came to enjoy the idea that the Priest might represent something special as part of the whole of the people of Israel. Maybe our collective sense of being special is connected to the Priest being in our midst. Like Rav Nachman’s teaching, if each of us is a microcosm of Israel, there be a little part in each of us that special like a Priest. Like the Priest there is that little bit of special that is set a side and is supposed to be treated with extra care and even restrictions. What would it be like to not only be constantly looking for that little bit of special in the people we love, but even in the worst people? In the process of this openhearted search we might even discover that very special bit of goodness in ourselves.

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Question of Focus: A Reflection on My Past Week in Israel

This last week I had the pleasure of going to Israel for the First International Dialogue on the Israel Educator. The program brought over 120 Israel educators from around the world to explore the future of Israel education. As part of the program I spend part of Tuesday hearing from social innovators who are bringing different flavors of spiritual rebirth to Tel Aviv. These innovations were exciting and spoke of a mutual relationship between Jewish life and expression in Israel and in diaspora.

After this I met up with a friend to take a walk and have dinner. As we were walking we heard the sirens announcing incoming missiles from Gaza. Not sure what to do, I started looking around for a bomb shelter. Across the street I saw a family of three in an empty lot waving us over. The father calmly said that we should stand up next to the wall. So there we were standing and I innocently asked which direction Gaza was. If  we were on the south side of that wall it would not help in shielding us from the approaching missiles. The same father immediately responded by saying that Gaza was on the other side of the wall.  A few minutes passed and then we heard the two pops of the Iron dome hitting the approaching missiles. We waited a few more moments to let what ever debris from the explosion come down. And just as fast as our little huddled mass banded together we disbursed to go about our day.

It was a surreal experience. These few minutes have left me with many questions. How could we just go back to our normal routine of life? How could we not? How could this have become the new normal for people in Israel? How might this new normal impact what we think of in terms of Israel education? How has this new normal impacted the constant state of geographic consciousness? The father just knew where we were relative to Gaza.

In the oft quoted saying of Rav Nachman, “Wherever I go, I am going to Jerusalem.” The Jew should always know where he or she is in relationship to Jerusalem.In writing this post I grasp the necklace I have worn since my Bar Mitzvah. The back of the necklace says, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning.” ( Psalms 137:5) With the constant barrage of missiles and growing range of missiles a larger segment of Israelis always need to  be aware of where they are in relation to Gaza. I cannot help but think how this consciousness overtime will ware at the Jewish soul. I know that we need to come up with a more peaceful, dignified, and sustainable reality with the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, but I do not want this existential crisis that Hamas has imposed on us to allow us to lose focus on our own moral grounding. We should stay focused on our hopes and dreams and not just our fears and nightmares. I hope that this situation resolves itself soon with no more needless bloodshed.


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