OUR point of view is this: We believe that spirituality is defined individually, not universally. That money should never be a barrier to participation, but rather a personal expression of community. It’s a simple proposition. We didn’t invent it, we just believe it!
A HOLY COMMUNITY
The Torah portion opens with Korah, Moses’ cousin, and two other men, Dathan and Abiram, leading a rebellion against Moses and Aaron accusing them of raising themselves above the community and as one of my Campers said this week, trying to hog God for themselves. But Moses is a humble leader and knows that God is there for the whole community. He tells Korach, Dathan, Abiram, and all the rebels that only God can show them who the true leader is. In the morning, each of the rebels, along with Moses and Aaron, offer incense in a fire pan to God before the Tent of Meeting. The ground opens up and swallows up Korach, Dathan, Abiram, and all 250 rebels, thus proving that Moses and Aaron are God’s chosen leaders.
But the people protest and blame Aaron and Moses for the deaths, so God plans another test. God tells Moses to have the chieftains from every tribe bring a staff to the Tent of Meeting, and in the morning the staff of the man chosen by God will bloom. In the morning, it is Aaron’s staff from the tribe of Levi that blooms, signifying that Aaron and his sons are directly responsible for the Tabernacle, and the Levites are to serve under the priests.
Our portion concludes by explaining that every Israelite is expected to give a tenth of his or her income to the Levites because the Levites had no other income. The Levites themselves had to tithe (give one tenth) to the priests of what they received. Thus, the Torah is teaching us that even those who depend on public assistance for their livelihood must give part of what they receive to tzedakah because tzedakah nourishes the soul of the donor even as it sustains the recipient.
Our Torah portion teaches us two important lessons about community. First, we all have a place, whether as leader or treasured member and there is no need or space for jealousy. And second, we are all there to help and support each other, even when we are in need of help ourselves. This is how we create a holy community.
~ Rabbi Shana Nyer
How to Say “Yes, and” to Inclusion
We are so proud of the work that Rabbi Nyer continues to do to make inclusion a central component of our educational strategy. Congratulations Rabbi Nyer on the publication of your article “How to Say ‘Yes, and’” on the Union for Reform Judaism blog!
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JULIE SILVER: A Concert Celebrating Bruce Shewitz
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