We carefully get dressed for work and then, when we go out the door we find that the snowplow filled our driveway. By the time we dig out and get to the office we are wet and bedraggled. Looking out our 12th story window the scene looks pristine and quiet, yet when we get to street level we see litter and half spilled cups strewn everywhere. We ask our kids to finish breakfast, put their dishes in the sink, and get dressed for school while we grab a quick shower, yet when we come back downstairs we find dishes on the table and our kids playing a video game.
When we go out of our private space, things are rarely what we hope they will be. We are often disappointed or angered by the actions of others. Often Sometimes, it makes us just want to go back to bed and pull the covers over our head.
Yet, we are reminded in the very first portion of Torah that we are not meant to live alone (Gen 2:18). We are told to interact with the world around us and all it contains. We are asked to be good stewards of this beautiful planet; to live in G-d’s image and serve as G-d’s partners, leaving our world better than we found it.
This is a struggle for me more than I sometimes care to admit. It is hard to remain calm in the face of injustice. It is hard to be patient when “I want it done NOW.” It is hard to be human in the face of what feels like daily acts of inhumanity.
Parshat Ki Teitzei – when you’ll go out – serves to remind us of this struggle. From its start we are told we will face struggles and even sometimes will need to do painful things. The parameters this parsha provides serve to remind us that even when we must do something that is less than pleasant, we can, and must, act with fairness, respect and grace.
We cannot hide or shy away from working through the realities of life. We must do the hard work at hand and fight when faced with injustice, yet we must fight with humanity and a vision of a world where injustice, and the day to day messiness of life, will be no more.
Prior to her position with the Grinspoon Foundation, Iris served as a synagogue educator in Syracuse NY, the Central New York PJ Library Program Coordinator and as a national consultant for PJ Library.
Iris holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood, Elementary, and Special Education, a master’s degree in Special Education and Reading, and Advanced Certification in School Leadership and Administration. Her experience as a secular educator and educational leader in congregational and community settings spans over 20 years. She is also a lay leader in Jewish organizations on the local and national levels. Iris served as the President of CAJE – the Coalition for the Advancement of Jewish Education, which was the largest member organization for Jewish educators in the country.