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Weekly Newsletter Message

DNC, RNC and a Lesson for Marriage

On the first day of creation, the Torah states “And God saw the light that it was good.”

On the second day the Torah does not say anything about creation being good.  Only on the third day does the Torah once again say “and God saw that it was good” and it actually says it twice.

Every detail in the Torah is precise, so what’s the significance of this discrepancy? What’s wrong with the second day,  and why is the third day, with it’s double portion of good, even better than the first.  

Day one represents oneness and unity, which of course is good.

The second day represents conflict. Once there is a second there is no longer oneness or unity. Therefore the Torah doesn't say it was good, for conflict is not good.

The third day represents peace. Peace between the first and second. Therefore the Torah says “it was good” twice, even more than the first day, because PEACE IS GREATER THAN UNITY.

Unity is easy; there’s no challenge (since you are the only one),  but it’s also one dimensional. Peace, on the other hand, can only exist when there’s challenge or the possibility of conflict, but it contains a depth and breadth not found in unity.

The advantage of peace over unity is similar to the advantage of  a multi-colored painting over a single-colored one. The contrast of the colors lends to the beauty of the artwork.  

This truth, that peace is greater than unity, applies to many areas in life, in our relationships as well as our politics.

This week I took the time to actually  read both the Republican and Democratic party platforms.  While there were definitely some items that seem irreconcilable, overall I was amazed at how much they actually complement one another.  They fit together beautifully!   

Peace is greater than Unity.  Placed side by side, working together, the two platforms can create a healthy and most wonderful society.  On their own they each fall short.

When we dig in our heels, point fingers, dismiss, or paint the other as evil, we are stuck in the division and conflict represented by the second day of creation, regarding which “good” is not even mentioned once. However, when we see the other side as an opportunity to reach beyond ourselves and our finite mindset  to create something even greater than what we could on our own, and  when we are open to listening to the objectives and goals of the other side, we can create the true beauty and depth represented by the third day of creation.

As always my goal is not to talk “politics” , but rather to use current events, topics that people are thinking and talking about, as a springboard in order to learn a lesson and better ourselves as individuals.  Peace is greater than unity not only in politics but also in our relationships -  Our differences are an opportunity not a threat.  This is especially true in a marriage. It is the differences and disagreements of spouses, not the similarities,  that carry the potential for the true beauty and depth of marriage.  

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

Has Democracy Run Its Course?

Have we given too much power to the people?

With Brexit and the rise of Donald Trump, some are questioning whether the masses should be entrusted with so much power. (Please don’t take this as an endorsement, or the opposite, of any candidate or position;  I’m merely sharing a sentiment that some are expressing)

Perhaps David Cameron gave too much power to the people by even calling for the referendum?

Are we witnessing mob rule rather than a moral and sensible form of government?

A couple of weeks ago we read the Torah portion about the spies who were sent to Israel and later led a rebellion against Moses and G-d.

The story opens with G-d’s instruction to Moses “Send for you spies” The commentaries explain the words “for you” to mean; send spies if you, the people, want.   This was a watershed moment in history.  Up until this point G-d called the shots and the people simply followed. All of a sudden G-d says, let the people decide what to do, I will no longer guide every step and make every decision. G-d handed over power to the people.

This was a high-risk move, but then again so was the very creation of our world. G-d could have created a perfect world, He could have done all the work for us, but instead G-d entrusted us with the task of bettering the world. Of course, handing over so much power to the masses comes with great risk. But G-d is willing to take the risk because, appreciating our inherent goodness,  he trusts that while we might make mistakes along the way, eventually we will get it right.

Democracy is also high-risk. It empowers the people. We may make mistakes, but due to our inherent (often concealed) goodness,  we will eventually learn from our mistakes and rebuild even stronger than before.

There’s an important lesson to be learnt from all this.

G-d has faith in you. (More than you have faith in G-d, G-d has faith in you)

With free choice, G-d has entrusted you with tremendous power.  And with this power you can cause great damage, you can make some really big mistakes. But G-d allows for this because, aware of your inherent goodness and greatness, He knows that you can and will rebuild even stronger. Good luck!

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman




Resistance

Earlier this week, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the horrific airport attack in Istanbul was a sign of ISIS desperation. While he was blasted by many for dangerously denying reality, I think there is a kernel of truth and a lesson to be learned from his statement (even if it doesn’t apply in this specific case with ISIS).

Encountering resistance is a sign of progress.

A doctor recently shared the following with me. Molluscum contagiosum is a viral skin infection, very common among children, that causes pearl-like bumps on the skin. The doctor pointed out that you know the virus is leaving the body when it begins to look really bad. It looks the worst when it’s on it’s way out.

Hearing this reaffirmed something I had studied in the book of Tanya: Negativity puts up its greatest fight when it’s about to lose the battle. The Alter Rebbe gives the example of someone immersed in prayer who is distracted by inappropriate thoughts. Rather than become discouraged by these distractions, he should see them as a sign that his prayers are valuable. You must be doing something right if the evil inclination is working so hard to throw you off track.

We all face some form of resistance, whether internal or external, to what we are trying to accomplish.  Rather than despair, see the resistance as a sign of progress. Resistance shouldn’t dishearten you it should inspire and motivate you.  The more the resistance the more important the endeavor must be.

I recently came across the following on Chabad.org “when human beings decided they could fly, two paths lay before them: To build vehicles lighter than air, or to use the air’s resistance to their advantage.

In the end, the path of resistance proved more successful.

It turns out that when you wish to fly above, resistance is to your advantage.”

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

 

 

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