A Celebration of Possibilities
I received the best birthday gift of all last night: A group of people made a very special party. It was a celebration of possibilities.
I meet with these people every two weeks and we study all sorts of topics and subjects. The last time we met we read a Midrash together and we all joined in tearing it apart, searching for understanding of its hidden messages.
When I walked into the house everyone knew that it was my secular birthday. They had read it on Facebook. Little did I know what these friends had in mind for me.
We decided to study Megillat Esther – The Book of Esther – every time we meet so we can finish (right!) before Purim. These people gave me one of the most wonderful hours of my life. We read the text without any Midrashim or commentaries. We wanted to simply read the text as if Mordechai and Esther were telling the story directly to us.
I sat back and observed and listened as a group of incredibly insightful people read Bible with passion. They tore each word apart. They “pictured the scene.” They imagined asking Achashveirosh, “What are you thinking?” They placed the king on a therapist’s coach and they clearly outclass Freud.
The insights were mind blowing! How could the king invite officers and servants to the same party? Was he not worried about insulting the officers? Why did he make the party “as he was displaying his wealth?”
How do you rule such a diverse empire? Do you use the melting pot approach of the United States? Do you allow each society to preserve its own culture? How do you impose your rule while allowing diversity?
The questions kept flying. Achashveirosh took a beating, but I received a most magnificent gift.
These people are not the most learned, nor are they the most observant, but they study with a conviction that it all matters in very real and practical ways. It was as if I was watching God respond in kind. There was one brilliant insight after another. They applied the lessons to the current political situation in the US. They discussed the application of Torah to each generation according to the specific needs and concerns of that generation.
I was observing Torat Chaim – a truly Living Torah. They discovered level after level of meaning. We all felt that the possibilities are endless.
You know what? With such people, the possibilities are truly infinite. We ended the night by dreaming of creating an educational system that nurtures living life and Judaism with that sense of the infinite. What a night!
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