Parashat “Vaykra” (=and he called) is the beginning of the book of Leviticus and is the third book of the five books of the Torah.
In Pirkei Avot “Chapters of our fathers” it says that - "He would say: The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness.”
Exactly ten years ago I started my long term relationship with the Jewish Agency as a summer camp video counselor to “Young Judea Sprout Lake” camp, it was there were I first stood in front of the Judaism that I relate to and am a practitioner/advocate/creator/leader/learner of to this day.
The most important and significant challenge I was confronted with was blessing in the name of G-D, because as a secular Israeli Zofim alumni, recently liberated soldier, son of Argentine zionists, grandson of socialist bundists holocaust survivors, Religion was not part of my identity or culture.
But there I heard the calling to bless together and sing prayers in harmony. It was there where I realized that as much as I am a rebel at heart and practice, I will not be able to change the name of G-D in Jewish prayers, so I had to find a way to find inner peace and sense in saying the name of G-D and so I did. As I am familiar with the process of winemaking I decided that G-D will be a capsule for me to thank every human act that’s put into making this wine I am about to drink in holiness with fellow caring humans, and to much of my surprise, it worked.
This simple act of shifting perspective from challenged to grateful made me find joy in saying the blessing over wine, the Kaddish for human souls, living and deceased and other prayers and Torah portions. It was fun. The obligation to be present became an invitation to be part of something bigger which was transformative to my human experience and to use a big word, it was holy.
That trick was calmed me for a time until I returned to Israel and was challenged by the concept of religion here again by all sides and I was lucky to have found a framework that helped forge those rattling questions of identity thanks to Avraham Infeld and his "five-legged table" but that is for another dvar…
My message for this Dvar is I believe in reframing and redefining things in order to have them make sense to us. I have learned that when we do a good job at translating to ourselves we many time are able to do a better job with others as well.
In this case, I redefine the three things the world stands on as:
Torah - Reflecting our truth in thoughts, words, and practice.
The service of G-d - Doing and by that Being our higher calling.
Deeds of kindness - Embodying gratitude and compassion to ourselves and to others.
And on a personal note, I just want to share my latest framing for my Jewish journey… Fast forward to 2017, I was serendipitously found and brought to JAFI’s Partnership together to create what we now know as 248 two years ago as the content director and second staff person/co-founder to take a vision galvanized through a year and a half long “innovation journey” and put it into action.
The calling to do work gathering Doers from across the Jewish world and create a new language and platform for practicing Judaism is a personal calling which I have heard loud and clear many times in my life.
It fills my heart and I am very lucky to have this as my work.
I am lucky to be in a position that allows me to bring my understandings and interpretation of the Torah, G-D’s service and good deeds and design a framework that inspires others to do good, connect with others and expose them their own and others stories and realize there are so many everyday acts of kindness happening all the time that is just heartwarming.
Creating a Global Network of Jewish Doers is a huge mission, defragmenting jews today into a new, relevant and authentic way of practicing Judaism is my everyday answer to the calling of our fathers. I hope that continues to be called for, heard and answered by many of us out there.
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