ED: The following is a excerpt from the story, “Rabbis Share Sneak Previews of Holy Days Messages” which ran in our Rosh Hashanah Sept. 7 issue.
Rabbi Adam Kligfeld
Temple Beth Am
Amidst construction and general flux, Beth Am’s immediate past president, Susan Hetsroni, coined the term “joyful flexibility” as a prism through which to experience the vagaries of institutional life, and a banner for how to respond to them. This communal slogan deserves to be elevated to a truly sacred concept. How, indeed, to confront the constant undulations, disappointments, pains and disgraces with a sense of balance,
dignity and integrity? It would be easy to say this is an easy concept to agree to. Would someone realistically say that a better approach to life would be this concept’s inverse? Who would actually stand behind a slogan of “miserable rigidity” as words to live by?
Yet some circumstances demand inflexibility. The Torah does not call us to be joyfully accepting of injustice or passively serene in the presence of another’s pain. There are times when we must present as righteously rigid. But Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav reminds us that, if at all possible, even tears can be shed through a scrim of joy. He reads the word B’KhiYaH, or weeping, as a jumbled anagram for the phrase “B’shimkha Y’gilun Kol Hayom” from Psalms 89: “In Your Name they rejoice the entire day.” This goes deeper than a Pollyanna stance, holding yourself with unearned ease. But rather, it is an invitation to be open to this year to the very changes you rue. To the stumbling blocks that are inevitable. To the notion of flux as norm. To be empathic to others’ weeping, but also to smile through your own tears.