[JOI Word of Torah] Big Tent Judaism: Vayechi
Kerry M. Olitzky
kolitzky at joi.org
Mon Dec 17 17:28:20 GMT 2007
"Big Tent Judaism" Word of Torah
December 22, 2007 / 13 Tevet, 5768
We have come to the end of Jacob's tumultuous life. And as he gathers his
children to him on his deathbed, Jacob offers each one a blessing. In these
blessings are contained wishes for his children that emanate from his own
experience of life and his relationship with each one. Rather than being cut
of divine cloth and thereby a form of revelation, these blessings emerge
from the kind of wisdom that only comes from the experience of human living.
Of the many lessons that Jacob teaches us, we learn from him that old age
can be a powerful teacher, as well as a calming influence particularly as
they relate to those issues that seem to tear families apart only years
before. The things that were once so important are eclipsed by the hovering
shadow made so poignant by the angel of death. If we can reconcile at the
end of life, why can't we do so earlier? What will it take to do so earlier?
Jacob's family was certainly diverse and its members had traveled different
paths in their lives. Yet he found it in his heart to embrace them all,
including his grandchildren, the children of Joseph. This diversity reflects
his final and complete transformation from Jacob to Israel (which we read
about in a previous section).
If our communities are to be diverse and supportive of the foundational
values of inclusion, then our families-which are already diversifying-can do
Rabbi Kerry Olitzky is the author of many inspiring books that bring the
Jewish wisdom tradition into everyday life, and is, among other books, the
author of Introducing My Faith and My Community: The Jewish Outreach
Institute Guide for the Christian in a Jewish Interfaith Relationship
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You are welcome to use these ideas in your own work and writings as long as
you would be so kind as to credit Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and the Jewish
Outreach Institute, thank you.
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