Monday, March 17, 2014

The Shadow of Spiritual Practice

Parshat Shemini
22 Adar 2 5774 / March 21 – 22, 2014
Vayikra 9:1 – 11:40

The Shadow of Spiritual Practice

This is the portion of 8. In Jewish mysticism 8 is the number that represents the realm beyond the natural order. 7 days in the weeks, culminating in Shabbat, and then 8 – there is always more than meets the eye.

This portion has a disturbing tale. The sons of Aaron are newly consecrated Priests. They make an offering to God and are killed for it. The basic understanding of this is that they worshipped in their way, not in the way God wanted from the nation. That is a big no-no.

This reminds me of  an article I read a year or two ago about a couple that took a multi-year vow of silence within a spiritual community. For certain reasons, they were ousted from the community. They were in the middle of the desert, with no resources. Instead of breaking their vow of silence and heading back to civilization, they remained in the desert until, eventually, one of them died.

Spiritual practice has a shadow side. It can be dangerous. If you ever took a Yoga class, you might remember a time you pushed past your limit to injury. Or on a larger scale, take note how conflicts and wars result from religious idealism. In spite of these dangers, I appreciate two Jewish values that seem to protect us from harm:

1.       Above all things – do not put your life in danger.
2.       Stay connected to community.

With Pesach liberation only 4 weeks away, we can weigh these two values seriously as our first steps to building a safe and supportive environment for all.


Post a Comment