For years we have talked in the Jewish world of the need to re-package ourselves. When we look at the number of Jews who are choosing Judaism compared to just a few years ago – we must acknowledge that we are not reaching people’s hearts and souls as we use to. It’s not that our message has soured or become any less profound – just that our delivery of that message and the way it is packaged isn’t reaching and inspiring the Jews of the 21st century.
Very often we mix up the packaging for the package – the wrapping for the contents. Think of a precious piece of china that you want to send to your friend across the country. When you wrap it up for shipping you use layer upon layer of bubble wrap and tissue paper. Then you place that in a box full of packing peanuts. By the time you’re done – the content of your package is hard to find in all of the packaging that you’ve used to protect it.
In the Jewish world we call this packaging – Siyagot LaTorah – fences around the Torah. These fences keep us from transgressing the most important laws and values of Judaism. They also create layers and layers of custom and tradition that very often distract us from the content they are trying to protect – Torah. It's time to un-pack Judaism.
In un-packing Judaism and Torah we need not water down or simplify the core teachings, laws and practices – on the contrary, we must amplify and celebrate them. And we must also distinguish between what is truly at the core and what we have layered over it.
In THE TENT, this work is just as important. We must constantly search for our core: What are we about? Who are we? Who do we want to be? We are just beginning to peel away the layers of packaging.
I wonder what you feel is at the core of your Judaism? What core ideas do you protect with layers of bubble wrap? I wonder what you think should be at the core of OHEL? If we were to break through the fences that we have set up – what would we find at the heart of our beating and living community?