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4 Tammuz 5780/ June 26, 2020 

06/26/2020 04:03:37 PM

Jun26

Rabbi Julie Kozlow

Dear Friends,

I love this Torah portion. On the surface it appears that the message is simple. Don’t rebel against the power structures. Do what you are told and follow the rules. Yet, Korach didn’t do that, he pushed back, he was young, passionate and unafraid to challenge the status quo for the dream of something better. And how true it is that almost all established systems that teach children how to grow, stand by this simple approach, follow the rules, say little and do what you are told.

But wait, if we look closer at history, we see a very different story.
We owe nearly all of our knowledge and achievements not to those who agreed to the status quo but to those who literally challenged it. It is this virtue of push back that literally brought Judaism into existence.
 
Avraham was the first rebel, destroying idols, and he was followed by his children, by Moshe, by the prophets, and finally, by the Jewish people. 
 
Judaism was born out of a courageous cry for a better world.
 
What has been entirely forgotten is that the Torah was the first rebellious text to appear in world history. Its’ purpose was to protest. It set in motion a rebel movement of cosmic proportions the likes of which we have never known. The text of the Torah includes all the radical heresies of the past, present and future. It calls idol-worship an abomination, immorality an abhorrence, the worship of man a catastrophe. It protests against complacency, self-satisfaction, imitation, and negation of the spirit. It calls for radical thinking and drastic action without compromise, even when it means standing alone, being condemned and ridiculed.
 
Judaism was born of rebellion, it is a cry into the cosmos that there is a better way to live, that the world that exists as we know it, is a whisper of the world we could know. We were inspired not to remain complacent in the face of the deficiencies of unfairness, the lack of love, or the limitations of life as we know them. Judaism was the first democratic stand for a different world than has been constructed. And we have believed all along that our impulse to rise up came directly from God’s will inspiring us to do so.
 
Korach was a rebel, yet his ideas were solid, they were justified concerns, but his ways were ways of anger and that became his own demise. Today I am pulling the lens out further to the principles that drove him not in the ways in which he stumbled. Yes, he may have made some huge mistakes but rebelling alone, is not one of them. That is the way change and growth occur, rebellion is essential to the human experience if it doesn’t want to atrophied.
What is important for us to think about in this volatile and changing world is that the Status Quo is rarely if ever the highest road for humanity to take, it tends to cater to the lowest common denominator. Judaism never stood with the lowest common denominator, no, Judaism is about breaking out of all of the boxes that little minds devise and it reaches for the stars. Question everything, that is why we honor being a people concerned with questions, even more than with finding the answers. Why? Because once you find that one right answer, the world will change and a new question will arise and the old answer, no longer holds true. Question everything, our ancestors sure did!
 

What a busy week it has been with so much to report. The school room has been prepared for the big clear out! Thank you Arlene and Blanche!  Jessica and I have mapped out Erev Rosh Hashanah services and the vision and hope that I have for a meaningful, spiritually nourishing and comforting High Holiday experience, is guiding the entire process. I am working on a blessed baby naming, developing a project to bring relief to the Navajo Nation, sharing the vision of an office facelift with David Solomon who has offered us an architectural assessment of the dream, we wait to hear his conclusions. Planning and preparations for our Zoom congregational meeting are well underway, B’nai Mitzvah tutoring, Einstein and the Rabbi class. Our Temple is thriving, all be it, over the airwaves, but it is thriving. 

Ignazio Silone asks, 

From what source do some people derive their spontaneous intolerance of injustice, even though the injustice affects only others? And what of that sudden feeling of sadness at sitting down to a well laden table knowing that others go hungry?

What a beautiful question to ask ourselves. I have always believed that the source is God, plain and simple, it is God. The work for us is in cultivating that connection, the tying of knots between us and the Spirit of all sacred being, God! God sees us in how we treat others.

I have always sensed that impulse as God whispering in my ear, or knocking upon the door of my heart. How I love to listen.

Thank you all for joining me in caring so much for each other, for our community, our Temple, our city, our world. 

I look forward to seeing you all on Sunday at our congregational meeting on Zoom!

May this Shabbat comfort and hold you in all that is divine and blessed.

Shabbat Shalom

Sat, July 11 2020 19 Tammuz 5780