May 7, 2021
Are you a “big picture” person or are you more “detail-oriented”? Are you the type of person who revels in new ideas and keeps your “head in the clouds”, or maybe you’re the one who enjoys the fine details and can be found with your “head in a book”? Do you still have the same highlighter you had when you were in high school (or maybe even grammar school), or are you the type of person who buys new highlighters every year looking forward to using them at every opportunity available? No matter who you are or where your natural tendencies lie, this week’s double Torah portion appeals to all.
This week we read the last two sections of the Book of Leviticus and conclude the third book of five, with parshah Behar-Behukotai. The title of this Torah portion is particularly interesting, as we see that the lessons learned are intended to speak to everyone. Whether you see the full “mountain” (Behar) or the detailed “legalese” (Behukotai), this portion highlights our differences while also purposefully bringing us together.
How often do we find ourselves in situations of disagreement and dispute because we simply see things differently? We might be looking at the same sight, the same proverbial “mountain”, maybe even reading the same [detailed] text, and yet we can still come away with a differing interpretation, understanding, or perspective that puts us at odds with one another. Even our greatest sages, the wisest Torah scholars of their time, argued their perspectives. In fact, their disagreements were so well respected that to document and present only one to the community would be wrong. We see these multiple perspectives detailed in the Talmud, with a majority “winning” argument and its counterargument and “minor” interpretation also documented.
Unfortunately, today we find ourselves at a time when we seem to have lost our ability to agree to disagree. Our strength to share our differing opinions to productively argue points, all while maintaining respect for one another is fading. Maybe I am at an age where cynicism is beginning to raise its head, but I will not let it gain a foothold. I know that we can once again get back to an age of respect for one another’s differences of opinions, thoughts, and considerations.
Why am I so confident and optimistic you might rightfully ask? Because I get to work with our younger generations, whose idealism and openness to diversity provides me the necessary hope to know that, just as Gd brought Behar-Behukotai together, so too should we bring our young adults together to show us the way.
This week the Jewish Federation of San Antonio convened a gathering of all our local organizations and agencies that work with Jewish young adults. This wonderful get-together highlighted the many faces of our community’s future Jewish leadership as they led the meeting. The work that these groups have done so far in building a community for this demographic is exceptional. These young Jewish adults’ desires to have a vibrant, active, and sustainable Jewish community echoed our ancestors who addressed similar challenges so that we could enjoy the benefits of an organized Jewish community today.
So, whether you see the majesty of the mountain on the horizon as it cuts into the skyline, or you are someone who ponders the details of how we will even get to the mountain, just know that our future Jewish leaders are taking on the challenge to come together, work past any differences, and build a community that will benefit all. Of that, I am very confident.
Their investment in our community’s future is just one more way that our Jewish Federation is…