The room was comfortably full, not packed. The A/C offered a Brrr so any remnant of heat left over from Indian Summer was left outside our “four walls.”Rabbi Lookstein walked up to the podium with his particular cadence I’ve come to know through the years. I was appropriately clad in the “right” length skirt. And so the stage was set, the evening began.
I was at KJ Synagogue to hear Dr. Rabbi Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University speak. The write up about the evening caught my eye and the kids set me up to gain entrance. He spoke on Sin, Self Perception and the Art of Living.
The timing for me to hear this was propitious. Yes, G-d offers no coincidences. I walked away from the evening a little more fine tuned on some immediate issues that have been dealt to my extended family.
He touched on the distinction between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. He detailed the difference in prayer between looking at and embracing your sins, your misgivings and your wrongdoings. He was light on the emphasis of sins necessarily being terrible shandas worthy of punishments and more on ways we have wronged others. He moved on to the meaning of wearing white on Yom Kippur and praying for the forgiveness of the past year’s behaviors that we feel we can better. He was straightforward, his words flowed with a pleasant melody and his sincerity offered comfort. We, as Jewish people are factually in the minority.
Our importance and roles in society however, quite the contrary. What was in the minority last night as well, were cells phones beeping, ringing or being accessed. We were there to listen, perhaps learn and be respectful of a very busy man sharing his knowledge and wisdom about keeping the peace pipe moving. L’dor V’dor.
I left the Rabbi’s sermon feeling comfortable, embraced and that my well being was cared about by a virtual stranger, an ordained man.
In the love your neighbor category and a look after your own way, I question why it is often easier to be more kind to strangers than intimates. As a divine order play out, we are placed in positions, in families and situations that because we are “just humans” will inevitably offer conflict and need for repair. So perhaps just for today, four days short of wearing a white outfit and maybe even sneakers why not look to our left, glance to our right and say we are sorry to an intimate we may have wronged. Perhaps if we begin to own our piece of behavior we can move on in a healthy way to the sounds of cell phones ringing and beeps of texts coming in. Amen!