January 26, 2018


1.26.2018 Weekly Torah Portion

I want to begin this week with GRATITUDE for everyone involved in our Gala and especially Janet Rosenblum and Avia Rosen! We have had an enormous amount of fun and reached amazing milestones. The dedication of the entire Development department is beyond description and measure. Avia and Janet, thank you for leading the charge and for your love for me personally and Beit T’Shuvah in general!

I am also so GRATEFUL to Sam Delug for his passion and energy as the Mogul Mensch! Sam, thank you for your love and for leading the way in this year’s Gala! Of course, Heidi Praw and Lynn Bider, our Gala Co-Chairs, are so involved and have been helping Janet and Avia to manage this whole endeavor. Thanks to both of you for your love, support and energy over all these years towards Beit T’Shuvah and me, personally.

This week’s Torah Portion is BeShallach. This translates to “and he sent.” The Parashah opens up with this word, and it is telling us an important phenomenon: the enslaver has to forcefully send us out of slavery because, once slavery becomes the norm, we (the enslaved) become too afraid to follow the call of Freedom deep in our souls. We have seen this to be true throughout history. It is certainly true for people in Recovery. Countless times we hear how the drugs, bet, alcohol, food, sex, etc. didn’t get us “high” any more, it just got us “right.” Because the enslavement of Addiction becomes the norm, we are not seeking anything (after a time) except to “get right.” Then there comes a time when we can’t even “get right,” and we begin our journey into Recovery.

What behaviors/substances/people have you come to rely on to “get high” that may not be working anymore? What are you doing to just “get right” that also may not be working anymore? How are you hearing and responding to the call of Freedom deep in your soul

This Shabbat is also called Shabbat Shira, because in the reading this week is the “Song of the Sea.” Miriam and the women began to sing to God and, of course, Moses and the men tried to drown them out! The #MeToo and #TimesUp are calling us all out for the ways we have enslaved women. Women in the Torah are used in some very bad ways, and we are able to see how not to treat women. Our tradition, however, has always given women their voices even when the men tried to shut them out and up. I believe that this gives their experiences and voices more power. Here again, we have to be immersed in the Bible so we don’t get the second-hand interpretations that men in power (or women in power now) want to give us. The “Song of the Sea” speaks to each person having their own experience with/of God and the miracles that happened. When we are lazy and just use someone else’s interpretation, recounting of an experience, we get enslaved! We don’t have to have the “easier, softer way” be our default – rather, when we are immersed and engaged in our texts, in our work and in our living, we can respond to life’s challenges and joys authentically and not have to be someone else’s puppet!

How are you just going along to get along? What are the ways you interpret and experience the Bible that are uniquely yours? When are you engaged in your life so you notice and respond to the “miracles,” challenges and joys?

I want to state that Beit T’Shuvah has been my song for these last 29+ years. Being honored at this year’s Gala is overwhelming me. I am grateful for all the people I have met along this path. I am grateful for all the learning and wisdom I have gained over these years. I am excited and grateful to be part of this unique experience and moving it forward.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Mark