Now on the other side of the mountain, we enter the series of parshiyot that call our attention to the intricacies of building community. From the laws of kashrut to the timing of festivals, parashat Mishpatim reveals 53 mitzvot, inspiring us to ask: Who are we to each other? What binds us together? Where will we find holiness?
And in a moment of spiritual synchronicity, Kol Tzedek is asking these questions, too. The next two weekends we have two big community forums planned. This Sunday the congregational meeting will include a special training called "Building Trauma Awareness & Relational Healing." And next week's Shabbat there will be an important forum about accessibility at Kol Tzedek. Lest one think these are distinct opportunities for community engagement, my dear friend and colleague Rabbi Elliot Kukla published an inspired piece of Torah this week entitled The Holiness of Being Broken: Trauma and Disability Justice. While I have excerpted a taste of his wisdom below, I really encourage you to read it in its fullness as he expresses deep truths with clarity and compassion.
In it he writes, "Most of us will experience some form of trauma or wounding in our lifetime. Trauma and disability are essential parts of what make us human and what connects us to one another...Trauma is central to who we are as a Jewish people, and impacts so many of our individual stories. Disability Justice can guide us in thinking more holistically about the holiness of our brokenness."
Reading this, I was reminded of a passage from masechet Brachot that I studied some weeks ago. "Even the old man who has forgotten his learning must be treated tenderly, for were not the broken tablets placed in the Ark of the Covenant side by side with the whole ones?" (8b). Jewish tradition has such deep reverence for our vulnerability, which is utterly inseparable from our humanity. This teaching links the two versions we receive of the giving of Torah at Sinai. One, which we read last week in parashat Yitro, and the other we will read in a few weeks when Moses returns from the mountain and finds the people have built a golden calf, prompting him to shatter the original set.
Rabbi Kukla concludes, "L'dor v'dor—'from generation to generation,' from teacher to student, from friend to friend, when we share our wounding and our healing, we share ourselves."
In preparation for these two weeks of communal sharing, and in honor of Jewish Disability, Awareness, and Inclusion Month, I encourage you to read Rabbi Kukla's teaching in its fullness.
Rabbi Ari Lev
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Rabbi Ari Lev Fornari brings Torat Hayyim, a living tradition, to Kol Tzedek Synagogue through thoughts about prayer, justice, and community.