Thursday, August 20, 2015

#BlogElul Day 5: Accept

Yesterday I had the opportunity to host a meeting for several colleagues to meet with Adm. Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel's navy, Shin Bet Director and Labor MK. It was a briefing, facilitated by J-Street, not to convince us that the Iran Deal is a good deal, but that it is a done deal, and it is better than the alternative, which is violence and chaos.

This morning I attended a briefing by Senator Chris Coons, a staunch ally and friend of Israel, and a very smart and articulate man. He preached at Shabbat Shuvah from my bimah last year and spoke meaningfully, and as I speak, is responding to questions (and ad hoc sermons) ably.

I have read our movement's position, which is one of intense and passionate desire for Shalom bayit rather than tearing the Jewish community asunder and making Israel a wedge issue in our country.  And I have also read a powerful article by colleague and friend Norman Lipson, who writes articulately about the dangers of rabbis advocating one way or the other when we are not experts.

Much of the conversation about this deal has been a conversation about perfection. It is not a perfect deal; it is, without a doubt, deeply flawed. But whenever we talk about perfection we allow ourselves to live in a fantasy, that we could do or get better. I'm not so sure. It feels too much to me like tilting at windmills.

Much of the conversation has also been reflective of a profound divide between the leadership and community on this issue. As so many Jewish organizations take a stand in opposition, most of the Jewish population of the United States favors the deal.

We want certainty. We want to know exactly how things should be. More than that, we want to be right. The truth is, we don't know. We can't know. We are not prophets. We can make assumptions, we can hope. We can argue history, but we need to learn to accept reality and plan accordingly (not a dissimilar position from Rabbi Eric Yoffie).

Acceptance isn't surrender; it is acknowledging how things are so we can, clear eyed, do what must be done to move toward where we must go.

Acceptance isn't failure; it's the opportunity to reassess and reimagine.

Acceptance--be it on Israel, or our own lives--clears away our biases so we can do the hard work fully and whole-heartedly.

Acceptance is humility.

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