Interfaith Harmony Week – Wednesday, February 3, 2016 Posted February 3, 2016 by admin@interfaith

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DAY THREE – FEBRUARY 3, 2016
INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK
FROM THE JEWISH TRADITION

IT IS UP TO US

Jewish star

Shalom

It is up to us
to hallow Creation,
to respond to Life
with the fullness of our lives.
It is up to us
to meet the world,
to embrace the Whole
even as we wrestle
with its parts.
It is up to us
to repair the World
and to bind our lives to Truth.

Therefore we bend the knee
and shake off the stiffness that keeps us
from the subtle
graces of Life
and the supple
gestures of Love.
With reverence
and thanksgiving
we accept our destiny
and set for ourselves
the task of redemption.

                            Rami M. Shapiro
                            Kol Haneshamah
                            The Reconstructionist Press

 

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REFLECTION

 “Where Have We Been and Where Are We Going”

“If I am only for myself, what am I?”  This was the key question Hillel asked centuries ago.  Envision the world bound by trust in which no physical, political, military or psycho-social defenses would be necessary. In such a world people would be able to use all their energy for positive and beneficial purposes. They would not fear exposing their own weaknesses and vulnerabilities because they would be secure in the knowledge that people would not take advantage of them.

We begin to explore the process to fulfill this vision. It begins with each person going on a voyage of self-discovery and determining his or her unique purpose in the world. People need to discover their own sacred dimensions and celebrate it in their relationships with other people.

Now we move on to the subject of attaining and sustaining trusting relationships.  How do I maintain my own sense of self when I am involved in a relationship with another person?  What should I expect from this relationship? How do expectations change with different kinds of relationships?  What am I if I am isolated or disconnected from everyone else?  Does the world exist for my own benefit, or do I exist to benefit the world? If the latter, how do I serve this purpose? What should happen in a relationship when I change, the other person changes, or the world we share changes?

Judaism is about self, relationships, and community. The Bible and other classic Jewish texts illustrate relationships that work and relationships that fail. Our tradition is concerned with teaching us the possibilities and limitations within every relationship. In this exploration we apply those teachings to provide a guide for forming and sustaining trusting, mutual relationships.

The Bible has rejected relationships based on domination. Since every human being is a symbol of God’s existence, we do not have the right to use our power to control others.     Neither is a manipulative relationship acceptable, because it assumes that other people exist only for our own use and benefit.  No one person can claim to have more sanctity than any other person.

The central relational question that the Bible asks is, “How am I able to retain my sense of self while in a relationship with another person? Will there not be conflict? Will I have to sacrifice a part of myself in order to live in harmony with another person?  In order to work, does every relationship require that one partner be dominant?  The response to these questions is the application of covenant.  A functional definition of covenant is as follows:  An agreement – making process that creates a community that is beneficial to the world.

Rabbi Gordon N. Freeman