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Torah Portion Commentary

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

This week's Torah portion, Jethro, points us to a famous and useful metaphor, one of my favorites, Standing at Mount Sinai. The image of hundreds of thousand of people circling a mountain gives us a way to think about community. They stand to gether in a huge circle at the foot of a mountain and face upwards, inwards, to where the communication from the Living Unity will reach them. All of them together, with their varying points of view. Each one will all have to contain one ray of light, one spoke of the truth. The message can only be received by our unity.

Everyone has to show up and represent their point of view. Everyone has to listen to everyone else. Two poles of a stick. To Show Up and to Listen. There is a natural tension here, an active balancing. Everyone literally sees everything from a slightly - or hugely - different point of view. Everyone had someone in the circle who saw things entirely opposite to their perspective. And isn't this so in life?

Conflict is ubiquitous. It is needed for growth. And the holding of the circle is needed for growth. Standing together in one circle, for a common elevation, open to each others views, is necessary for growth. This showing up and this willingness to listen. The Children of Israel evolve to become the Community of Israel, the grown ups, by representing our own position without rancor or pride. And listening to the other perspectives, again, without rancor or pride.

Many of us, at times, hesitate to offer our perspective for one reason or another. Many of us, at times, opine too much and bristle too quickly at disagreement. Both excesses are errors. Errors that can be seen and corrected, to serve a higher cause. Try it. You'll like it.