Thursday, March 11, 2010

As We prepare for Passover -- Divrei HaRav -- My Temple Bulletin Column for March

Divrei HaRav -- Words From Weisman

Usually, when the President of the congregation or I start our columns, we mention the time lag between our writing and your reading these words, because there are frequently poignant distinctions to be made. Occasionally, as this month, rather than creating distinction, this lag works to bring 2 disparate items together, hopefully in a way that provides deeper understanding of our Jewish lives.

As I write, I am anticipating being able to get into the office at the Temple, following the ridiculous snow. I KNOW that no one wants to think about it anymore, or be reminded of it, but as I write, it is still very real – the snowplows are literally clearing the parking lot as we speak!

So I need to start with an ENORMOUS “Thank YOU” to the women of our Sisterhood who make up our Mitzvah Committee. In the hours leading up to the beginning of the first part of this storm, they were able to work with me, not only in preparing a workable plan that needed to be implemented to reschedule Sisterhood Shabbat, but also to work with me, proactively, in setting up a protocol for checking in with many of our members who are older or live alone, and might have been more harshly impacted by the inclement weather. The co-Presidents of Sisterhood, as they do every time it is possible, found a way to say yes to something that helped our membership, and along with those others, who made the initial calls, and received the few follow-up calls, and arranged for things for a few people, made it happen. {Editorial Note: As I have promised to do, I will edit sermons and bulletin columns to remove specific names that might inadvertently make private individuals public by their inclusion -- my thanks are no less heartfelt to these specific individuals!}

The lawyers teach us that “Extreme cases make bad law.” But extreme circumstances DO provide the opportunity to judge who we are and how we are doing in a different light than we usually allow to shine on our lives. Thanks to the efforts of Sisterhood and the Mitzvah Committee, I was far more calm during the storm, knowing that those most likely to need assistance had been contacted, and I hope those who were called were too. I also saw neighbors pitching in to help neighbors where they rarely even stop to say hello.

I saw an AWESOME display of both God’s power, and God’s beauty in creation, playing out through my windows – something I hope others gave themselves the time and opportunity to recognize, because it WAS magnificent. That, in turn, allowed me to see that blessing and curse truly ARE 2 sides of the same coin – so easy it was to imagine the beauty before my eyes suddenly being responsible for taking what would be a bad situation in everyday life, and possibly making it catastrophic, if people were isolated, or couldn’t get out to get the help they needed.

I was thankful the power stayed on for us – allowing me to stay connected electronically, even as we were isolated physically. This allowed me not only to be aware of what was going on at the Temple and with members, but also allowed the work of planning the community-wide “Bowie Cares” Benefit event for Haiti on February 28 to go on without delay. As always, I am not sure as I write when you will read these words, but if you read them before the event, I hope to see you there for a spectacular event for a great cause!

I was also able not to overdo in the shoveling department, BECAUSE of the help of my family, neighbors and friends. I assure you, that I do not like being unable to just go out and become a human snow plow as I used to be, but I was and am able to recognize my limits, and not push them, to use proper technique, and keen self-awareness, to still be part of the effort, but not in a dangerous way. It was not easy, letting others help to get me loose, but it was necessary. And let me add a huge thanks here to the many of you who know me too well, and responded to my innocent picture with a shovel in my hand, by reminding me, sometimes forcefully, to be careful!

But most of all, I am thankful as I look ahead to the month of March with my Jewish eyes, in light of the snow. At the end of the month, when we get to Passover this year, I suspect it will be much easier for us to follow the Talmudic injunction: “In every generation, each of us should see ourselves as if we, ourselves, came out of Egypt.” We may not know slavery firsthand – and that too is a blessing – but for this year, at least, we will certainly share a better understanding of the sense of relief and release that led our ancestors to spontaneous song and dance on the freedom side of the Reed Sea!

So as we prepare for our “Festival of Freedom” this year, I encourage you, as I always do, to make your celebrations personal. Fill the seder with personal sharing of questions, and answers, and especially this year, reactions and experience. And let all of those guide us to be even more aware and appreciative of God’s presence in our lives and our reality – in both the every day AND the spectacular. I wish you all a zissen Pesach!

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