How to make space?

Thursday, 18 November, 2021 - 9:21 pm

Standing outside the buildings as they were being demolished, I reflected on the need, at times, to do things that we’d rather not do! In this week’s Torah portion, Rachel is buried on the side of the road. The midrash explains that she chose to be there in order to be available to her descendants, as they were led into captivity. She chose to be there for them despite the fact that she would have preferred to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, together with her husband, in the cave of Machpela.

No one wants to take down a beautiful building with architecture design and with the old town feel. Yet, there are times that we need to leave from what exists in order to grow beyond that.

As we began the building process, we planned to keep the buildings and build around them. We’d be getting the best of both worlds; part new and part old. But the structures were not safe enough. The finished building would not be usable for a synagogue. When one would enter, the feeling would have been walking into an office in the hallway. Not the vibe we were aiming for.

When Moses was at the burning bush, he is told “Leave from here”. Rashi comments: you need to leave from here in order to go to there. Spiritually, what that means is that in order to grow to a higher level, you need to demolish the previous level. Sometimes you need to get rid of the old in order to make place for the new and to be able to get comfortable at this higher spiritual level.

Practically, this means that in order to grow, one needs to get rid of their previous perceptions of what Judaism and spirituality is about. A parent who did not have a good experience at Hebrew school, won’t send their child to Hebrew school. But if they recognize that the Hebrew school of their youth is not the school of today, they may reconsider. Today’s Hebrew school instills the same values but by focusing on the joy and positive effects of spirituality, of the Torah and mitzvahs.

An adult who has had non positive interactions with people who observe Torah and mitzvahs, may think that exploring Judaism and learning Torah are not up his alley. If he’d get rid of the preconceived notions, he can make way for a much better spiritual experience.

Below is a time lapse of taking down the old as well as a picture of what the new will look like. Yes, sometimes we have to get rid of our preconceived notions, but as time moves on, we will be very happy with the new.

Have a Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Kushi Schusterman 



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