The world is changing! Everything is going digital, and it poses quite a challenge for those of us whose brains are not wired to integrate all this new technology. It reminds me of the time my wife took me to the Chicago Symphony, but to my untrained ears the sounds of the orchestra were beyond my musical comprehension. Peacefully I ended my battle and allowed the cacophony of noise to lull me into a deep sleep.
Years ago I applied for a job and was asked to take a Price Waterhouse psychometric exam aimed at allowing the employer to gain insight into my true abilities. Well I did get the job but was told that my spatial intelligence was not why I was hired. Yes, I have a handicap (living in a golf environment it does not even sound bad) which impacts on my ability to delve into the Torah portion of the past two weeks. The portions discuss in great detail building materials used for the Tabernacle and vestments for the priests, both of which challenge my brain’s dysfunctional ability to decipher and interpret 3D images.
Therefore I was delighted that the Chairman of the Board of the Orthodox Union, Stephen Savitsky, accepted our invitation to be scholar in residence, thus letting me off the hook. His talks were erudite and scholarly, seasoned with just the right amount of humor. His stories were inspirational and left an indelible impression upon his audience. It will be a Shabbat that will go down in the annals of our history as the catalyst in putting Anshei Emuna in Delray Beach on the Jewish map.
As his host I was fortunate to spend some quality time in which we spoke about the shul and the Delray Beach Jewish Community. He posed one question that I had no immediate response to and needed a few days to respond in an appropriate manner. The question was what makes Anshei Emuna unique? In other words, with the vast number of choices available, what makes our shul stand out from the crowd?
The answer to the question is that just as some people are unable to hear the music in a symphony and others have other limitations in perception, some may also fail to appreciate the depth of diversity that makes Anshei Emuna unique. Being modern Orthodox and Zionist, our shul would make people from Monsey, Boro Park or Williamsburg slightly uncomfortable. Our philosophy of live and let live would probably make those used to living with a ghetto mentality slightly uncomfortable. If your community is a lifelong member of the Chumra (adopt stringency) of the month club, then Anshei Emuna should probably not be your first choice.
You see, in some areas I passed the Price Waterhouse test with flying colors. My mind is capable of discerning Judaism for what it was intended to be and not what people have made it to be. Yet I also comprehend I personally can’t appreciate or understand the artisans’ buildings or the designs of the vestments because of my limitations. In reality each individual is incapable of appreciating the entirety of the Torah because of individual handicaps. It is only when we embrace the totality as one people with mutual respect and admiration that we can reduce our handicaps.
My golf game has serious impediments and my handicap would be off the charts, but partner me with Tiger Woods and the dynamic changes.
Rabbi Jack Engel