Messages from Rabbi Russo

July 10, 2015 - 23 Tammuz 5775

July 10, 2015
23 Tammuz 5775
I recently heard a Hasidic story in which a group of rabbis were sitting at a table to enjoy a meal together. One rabbi abstained from eating. No one wanted to ask him any questions because they felt uneasy about it. At the end of the meal the host just could not take it anymore and asked him why he wasn't eating. His response was, "because I was not given a spoon." I take away two important lessons from this story. We are sometimes afraid to ask questions because we do not want to disrupt the status quo. Secondly we glean from this story that sometimes the onus is on us to ask for help.
In Parashat Pinchas, the daughters of a man named Zelophehad ask Moses an important question. They ask, "Why should we not inherit land just because our father died and did not have any sons?" Moses understands the value of the question and sends it to God. God's response is to change the law to enable women to inherit land. By modern standards, this seems like a perfectly reasonable response. It was not obvious in the time of the Torah that women could inherit land, and the willingness of Moshe and God to thoughtfully consider and answer the question is note-worthy.  

Questioning is a cornerstone of Judaism. We are taught from a very young age the benefits of questioning our texts, beliefs and relationships. This week the Board asked, "how can we improve our systems and our vision for our leadership and the synagogue?" Last night we met at Camp Ramah Nyack to ask ourselves essential questions about what has been working and what needs improvement. Through asking these questions, we are making steps towards an even greater vision for the synagogue. My message this week is to value questions - the questions we hear and the questions we ask - as a way of deepening our relationship and connection to Judaism, each other and our communal vision.  

Shabbat Shalom.