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Climbing the Tree and Sailing the Sea

08/27/2021 04:07:22 PM

Aug27

Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Climbing a tree. Hanging from a vine. Sailing across the ocean. These are a few of the ways our sages – from ancient to modern times – pursued illicit desires, whether those desires were born from greed, lust, or the hunger for power. In some cases, the hapless sages went through with the deed. But in most cases, they managed to thwart the forward momentum of their desires.

Rav Amram the Pious is the hero of one of my favorite Talmudic stories. A group of captive women had been kept in his attic -- for their own safety! One day his lust overwhelmed him and he began to scurry up the ladder to the attic. Before he reached the top, however, Amram stopped and screamed, “Fire! There’s a fire in the house of Amram!” His fellow sages rushed to his home and found their colleague perched above them, on that ladder. How embarrassing! But therein lies the lesson. Amram preferred to be humiliated in public than to pursue his desires in secret. He utilized his community to remain on a straight path. That’s one priceless benefit of being part of a congregation.

We are all halfway up that tree, swinging from that vine, or sailing across the ocean. We all have the potential to engage in less than decent behavior. As we enter a new year, may we make our congregational community proud, and may we protect, lift up, and keep each other honest, righteous, and charitable.

Shabbat Shalom and L’Shana Tova!

Rabbi Jeffrey Weill

Tue, April 23 2024 15 Nisan 5784