Regalim, Pilgrimage, Compassion: A Vision of Sovereignty in Israel

Jerusalem May 25, 2012 5 Sivan

Erev shabbat, shavuot, What do you bow down to? Refinement of Sovereignty

Dear Ones,

Tonight in the Jewish calendar we encounter the highest refinement of our sovereignty. We have the opportunity to finish a week of refining our sovereignty by encountering the essence of sovereignty. The suchness of sovereignty. The sovereignty of sovereignty. We might ask, Sovereignty of what? What is it that my heart and soul are yearning to be sovereign here in this life, this place, this relationship, this household, this land, this world? My vision is of a life and world where compassion is sovereign. After all the refinement and balancing, I want a world where compassion is King; where compassion is Queen. Where compassion is the ruling Law. Where the Torah of my life is compassion. My vision is that my life this time around, my place here, my time here, my space here, is dedicated to refining the sovereignty of compassion.

I am finishing preparations for my last Shabbat in Israel for this trip, leaving early Monday. This Shabbat, in Jerusalem, goes right into Shavuot; one of the “regalim” – pilgrimage festivals. It is 50 days after the beginning of Passover and marks the 49 days we have spent refining ourselves as individuals and as a free Jewish people, in the wilderness, to receive the Torah at Mt Sinai…Torah – learning how to live, how to live as human beings with our highest purpose and highest selves. The completion of this process is so significant that Jews from all over the world have walked to Jerusalem for thousands of years to the Temple to experience Receiving the Law of Living.

This Shavuot comes at a week in Israel where there have been so many troubling, deeply troubling events, events where compassion is clouded over by fear, anger, frustration.  Israeli Jews in Tel Aviv smashing shop windows of Eritrean immigrants, apparently while police stood by and didn’t stop them; a week when women praying at the Kotel were detained for wearing tallises the way men are supposed to wear them; a week when daily undocumented harassment of Palestinians all over the West Bank took place, including the beating of a personal friend of mine, Fesal Kaeteep.  A week where religious Jewish yeshiva students marched through Arab parts of Jerusalem chanting “death to the Arabs.”

This is the week where kabalistically we refine our sovereignty (machut) , with loving kindness (chesed) and splendor and compassion and beauty (tiferet)…..

I am left with a question I hear from many Israelis here – is sovereignty possible without stepping on the freedom and needs of other people? And what is it worth if it isn’t? And my question, the question I still hold onto is, how do we make it possible? How do we model a sovereignty that truly emanates divine light? A sovereignty of compassion? How do I continually refuel myself so I can put sovereignty in charge of my sovereignty. Wherever I have power, in any relationships where I have power, how can I come back again and again to valuing other people’s needs as much as I value my own? To holding other people’s love and hearts as much as my own?

I am leaving 3 a.m. Monday and going to Plum Village for revival, replenishing, nourishment, so that I can hold these questions and all that is happening here within my own sovereignty – which means to me, with love and equanimity; so that I can be present and open and connect deeply with the fears and frustrations and longings in all the human hearts here, without taking sides. So that I can continue to love being Jewish and also look at all of my fellow Jews with love and acceptance….Plum Village is the medicine that I need right now to be able to do this.

And also this week, in Jerusalem, we had the first Palestinian – Jewish NVC group; and shared deeply and opened our hearts and ears to each other. And Israeli yoga teachers organized a day of yoga for Palestinian women, and Israelis brought Palestinian kids to the beach and there are countless Jews and Palestinians all over here who come together to find peace and love and dignity together.
More than anywhere else I know of, people here are doing this.

Last night i had a little going away party and friends came- from a Bedouin village in the Negev and a Palestinian family in Nazaeth and from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem all came and we sat together and celebrated our connections and projects and being together and visioning a future of love and light together.

Today I said good-bye for now to Batya and Aharon; to friends from a Palestinian school and religious circles in the Old City…to religious friends who are actively figuring out how to raise their kids with a religious life that rejects all kinds of racism and domination.

The currents of life run through here, both swiftly and slowly.

It is a place alive with creativity, culture, spirit, passion, light and dark.

Tomorrow night and into the morning hundreds of thousands will walk to the Old City, including me, for the sunrise. After a night of studying Torah, all over the country. Studying about Ruth and Naomi, two of our ancestors who found love together from in and outside the Jewish tribe. We will celebrate their commitment to each other and to the Jewish people. A commitment founded on love and compassion. May this commitment model how we are for the world and how the world is for us.

My our study bring light.
May our hearts open.
May our life be of benefit to all beings everywhere.



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