[JOI Word of Torah] Big Tent Judaism: Vayishlach
Kerry M. Olitzky
kolitzky at joi.org
Sun Nov 18 23:33:40 GMT 2007
"Big Tent Judaism" Word of Torah
November 24, 2007 / 14th Kislev, 5768
This portion begins with Jacob's reconciliation with Esau. Clearly Jacob is
not convinced that such reconciliation is possible, or that it will take
place. So he protects his family and his assets by dividing his camp into
two, thinking that should he have misjudged his brother, he will not be
totally decimated. Jacob realizes the extent of the deception of his brother
when they were younger and doesn't know whether he can make peace with him.
And he is totally surprised at the willingness of his brother to forget the
past and embrace his brother and the future.
Often those who have had such encounters with members of their family are
afraid to attempt reconciliation. They are afraid of being rebuffed even
when they know it was they who wronged the other. This is particularly true
in cases where our initial response to those family members who have
intermarried was rejection. Sometimes we recover quickly from an initial
reaction but in other cases we are unable to shake free and we let it fester
until it seems the relationship is destroyed. Yet when we find the inner
courage and strength to reach out to the other, we are surprised to find
Just as we think Jacob has it right, the story of Dinah is woven into the
tapestry of this week's Torah portion. Some will say that it is out of
place, that it perhaps comes from another source document and is ready to
point our ways in which it doesn't fit. But the Torah's editor (EDITOR!)
clearly understands the message that the literary device is achieving. Be
honest in reconciliation. When a sister or daughter falls in love with
someone with another religious background, and when that person-either out
of love or the discovery of Judaism-wishes to cast his/her lot with the
Jewish people, don't look for ulterior methods. Warmly welcome him/her. And
certainly don't attack him/her when healing from the decision.
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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