Our group gathers on Monday evenings in Brooklyn to practice viewing the world through the lens of Torah. We were discussing a difficult situation with a troubled and defensive person, when Sarah pointed out how it seems that we often look in the wrong direction for an answer that is right before us. Sarah’s comment reminded me of Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa. When you look carefully at the painting you will see that everyone on the raft is gesturing and staring in different anguished directions while the raft sinks under them. I often wonder along with Sarah whether we spend too much time and effort looking for answers in the wrong places.
Many of us turn to Holy People to pray for us, rather than turn directly to God. People often look for more stringency in observance as an indication of a deeper relationship with the Almighty. We all look away from the raft when complaining about others rather than look inwardly at ourselves. We study the stories of the Bible, outwardly, with preconceived notions, rather than inwardly, with the simple meaning of the text and story. We even look away from ourselves and blame God for our problems, rather than look directly at our rafts in order to understand our contributions to our reality.
This week’s Music of Halacha: “Speech! Speech!” reminds us how an inward look can enhance Shabbat. The Haftarah of Shelach: Partnership With God describes a powerful story of people who chose to look in all the right places to discover the parameters of their new relationship with God. Table Talk: Shelach compares the twisted vision of the 12 Spies to that of the Golden Calf. Our friends in Israel can reflect on Samuel’s perspective on the difference between a Prophet and King. They can also use Table Talk: Korach to examine how we look at misplaced passions. Look at the world through the eyes of the Baal Shem Tov in Bentzion of Medziboz’s Stories of the Baal Shem Tov and Keter Shem Tov. We invite you to take a look at Rabbi Yaakov Shlomo Weinberg’s The Torah Connection, and to peek at Korach and Bullies, and Rachmanism and Macedonian Fruit Salad onTheFoundationStoneBlog. You can also glance at the review notes from the Da’at Tevunot and Prayer classes.
We are not looking away, but ahead. Thanks for joining us on The Foundation Stone.
Rabbi Simcha L. Weinberg