Friday, April 27, 2012

בן לבן - In Between

For me, this has been a week of  "בן לבן"  or transition. I started the week in the US and ending it in Israel.  On Sunday, I watched as my son Elan was  installed as President of CHUSY Region USY.  At the same time, I stood next to my friends, David and Suzie Hakimian and Lisa Alter Krule, reminiscing about the new stage of life we were all in.  After all, wasn't it just  yesterday that we were active USYers being installed or absolved of various regional offices.  This was the week of the transition from Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day, to Yom Ha'Atzma'ut, Independence Day in Israel.  It is no longer either but the flags and the bipolar feelings about the week remain in the air.

This Shabbat, I physically  find myself in between two places.  As I write this, I know that in the US you will be reading the combined parshiot of Tazria and Metzorah. Parshiot that deal with the laws of ritual purity (for the most part).  Here in Israel, however, we will be reading the combined parshiot of Acharei Mot and Kedoshim, also known as the holiness codes.  This difference in readings is due to the calendar anomalies that take place every few years between the Diaspora and Israel.  Finally, as we read Parshat Kedoshim, we will read the middle parashah and the middle verses of the entire Torah.  

Just as I find myself in between places, I also find myself starting the transition from "the rest of the year" to the camp season.  This coming week marks the most concrete beginning of my transition as I spend most of the week at Kibbutz Shefayim participating in the Jewish Agency for Israel's training seminar for shlichim.  I will witness thirty or so individuals from varied backgrounds transition into a mishlachat, a delegation, coming to camp to inspire connections to Israel for our campers and staff members.  It is a truly amazing transformation to see.

As we read different parshiot this Shabbat, I find myself wondering: What do we do when we are בן לבן? When we are betwixt and between? When we are transitioning?  How do we enjoy the universe of possibilities that opens for us when things are unsettled rather than just fearing the unsettledness itself?  Perhaps the answer comes from Parashat Kedoshim: קדושים תהיו כי קדוש אני יקוק אלוקכם (Vayikra 19:2) "You shall be Holy for I, the Lord your God, am Holy."  That is to say, in the time of limitless personal possibility strive to be and to bring greater Holiness to the world.  Build your choices of those limitless possibilities around the goal of increasing God's presence in the world, of bringing greater justice, knowledge, creativity and goodness to the world.  Don't flee opportunity in unsettledness from fear.  Make a different choice.  When we make our ultimate, grounding goal the  increasing of Kedushah - of sanctity - the limitlessness of the possibilities is not reduced; rather, it is refined. The options don’t disappear but the basis upon which we choose is clear.

When I walk to synagogue tonight, enjoying the beautiful, fresh Jerusalem air and the descent of the Shekhina, the Divine Presence, on the city, I will be pondering these questions for myself.  I invite you to do the same.

Shabbat Shalom

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