The Torah portion for this week is called B’reishit and it is the first Torah portion in the book of Genesis. Yes, we have begun a new cycle of Torah reading. This officially marks the end of the High Holy Days and is a perfect time for reflection on all that has happened and all that is yet to be. I am so deeply grateful for the extremely positive response to all the worship experiences, the music, and the messages we shared. It was a very fulfilling time for me.
Now I would like to fulfill a promise that I made to you on Rosh Hashanah. In the story of creation, I found a very compelling lesson that speaks to what is at the core of my promise. In chapter one of Genesis, God creates the first human in the Divine Image as both male and female. In chapter two of Genesis, we get a very different account of this creation. God first creates Adam, a single human, and immediately detects that it is not good for a human to be alone. Humans need companionship. Humans need community. Once a second human is created, Eve, these two humans are able to see the good in each other and the goodness that is in the world.
Then, things go very wrong. They both eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Confronted by God who asks, “where are you?”, the humans go on attack. They attack each other, they attack God, and they attack the creation. Things go horribly wrong, indeed. The punishment is that life will become ever more difficult. The humans, through their response to being confronted by the error of their own actions, are forever changed; doomed to engage in strife. This did not have to be. The humans could have made a better choice. Adam and Eve could have paused instead of immediately reacting. They could have asked questions instead of attacking. They could have sought understanding instead of seeking to blame.
We live in a time when attack is the response to disagreement. Cancelation has almost completely overshadowed understanding. We, too often choose polarization instead of harmonization. On RoshHaShanah, I promised to create an opportunity to change the script. There are many who feel estranged from Jeremiah perceiving that their political views are not valued. There are people who feel that there is a political tone to our worship and our social justice programs that is either too one-sided or at odds with what they think a house of worship should be.
I would like for us to gather for conversation that seeks understanding. I invite people who identify themselves as Jews with conservative views along with people who think the congregation has become too political along with people who are simply interested in hearing from fellow congregants who have views different than their own.
The first meeting will be November 21st at 7:00 p.m. in person at Temple. I hope you will come to listen and to share. Help me fulfill this promise to build bridges of understanding that will most truly reflect the vision of the prophet Isaiah, “Let My house be a house of prayer for all people.”