Monday, July 30, 2012
"If I am able to return to God...I must originally have been with God" - J.J. Petuchowski
On Tisha B'Av we commemorate not only the physical destruction of the Temple, but even more critically, our spiritual alienation from HaKodesh Baruch Hu.
The Shekhinah is exiled from our midst. We mourn this loss more than the destruction of Jerusalem. We are saddened by the perceived distance that HKBH has placed between ourselves and the Divine.
Parha'at Vaet'hanan comes on the heels of Tisha B'Av and at the beginning of our season of repentance leading up to the Days of Awe. The parsha challenges us to rethink our understanding of returning to God. As the parsha declares, "But if you search there for the Lord your God, you will find him, if only you seek Him with all your heart and soul."
But teshuvah is a proactive experience. Quite beautifully, Jakob J. Petuchowski writes, "If I am able to return to God, it follows that, notwithstanding my going astray, I must originally have been with God. Man's natural state, so to speak, is therefore to be with God, to lead his life in the presence of God and in accordance with God's will" (Judaism 17, 178-179).
It has been quite a while since I have posted to this blog. I apologize for that, but I do not have a lot to say. Except that I am in constant contact with friends and parents of children who are gay. I continue to listen to their stories, their struggle, their pain and their triumphs and their continued support of their children.
It fills my heart with tremendous pride and joy when I hear that a young man or woman has overcome the initial trauma of discovery, acceptance and proclamation of his or her sexuality, and has moved on to succeed in his or her pursuit of their dreams.
A case in point. One of the speakers at the YU symposium on December 2009 spoke about hitting rock bottom and having contemplated suicide. But with true faith and the support and acceptance of those friends and relatives who love him and stand behind him, he has been able to pull his life together and move forward. This brave young man graduated from YU, continued onto NYU where he recently received his PhD in Jewish History, and he is moving to Oxford University to conduct his post-doctoral activities.
Mazal Tov Josh...... "Search there for the Lord your God, you will find Him."