Mind you I listened as attentively as my technologically spoiled and instant-callused brain could focus, but being able to carry the sentiments out through the shul doors is a triumph in itself. With children clattering outside, flies attacking my face, and an inexplicably intense craving for Froot Loops, I listened as the Rabbi spoke about the destruction of the Temple. A topic I had found irelevent to my lifestyle of roller blading, reading, and redbox dvd-ing.
He spoke about how Rueven, Gad and half of the tribe of Menashe often get a bad rap for requesting to live on the other side of the Jordan outside the boundaries of Israel. What are we, a nation of separatists? How could they ask something so disrespectful-were they ingrates of G-d's gift?
Here's a different perspective. If we think back to the midrash often told during those shul groups we all hated but for the candy, we recall the story of Reuven picking flowers for his mother Leah and making Rachel cry. Where did these flowers come from? Apparently, these flowers- dudayim- were desert flowers. Reuven went extra lengths to pick flowers from a place that was considered no-man's-land in order to be extra careful about stealing from his neighbors. Applying that to the episode in this week's parsha, Reuven was a large and prosperous tribe and would require a lot of resources and land in order to sustain itself. The heads of Reuven were nervous that their flocks might accidentally graze on another tribe's property or they might over-hunt. In this light, Reuven is nothing but sensitive and pragmatic.
This teaches a powerful lesson about considering the feelings of others; Intentions are often misunderstood and incorrectly attributed. In these three weeks- the period of time between the siege on Jerusalem's fortress and the destruction of the second temple- I will attempt to be extra sensitive.
On that note, in last week's post I thoughtlessly pursued self-expression at the expense of my mother's dignity. When I think about the epitome of children honoring their parents, I think of the Roosevelt children. It took a long time before President Roosevelt's syndrome was exposed and his paralysis made public headlines; How did citizens not know the physical condition of their own leader? During every speech, as Roosevelt addressed the people as an emblem of power, one of his sons stood beside him supporting the weight of his body, and safeguarded their father's decency at having been hoisted from a wheelchair.
In contrast, I metaphorically tipped my mother from her wheelchair and yelled "walk woman, walk," on the internet. It goes without saying that I am now comparing bouquet rates on proflowers.com- my own dudayim.
In these next weeks I dare us all to be a bit more thoughtful in speech, action, spirit. Pay a little money, time, respect. See that roller blades, reading, and redbox are all just escapes from thinking profoundly about the things and people that we hold at our own Temples.
craving more than just Loops