sábado, junio 15

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A somewhat obscure text, around 2,000 years old, has been my unlikely teacher and guide in recent years, and my North Star in recent months, as many of us have felt like we were drowning in an ocean of sorrow and helplessness.

Buried deep within the Mishnah, a Jewish legal compendium dating from around the third century, is an ancient practice reflecting a deep understanding of the human psyche and spirit: when your heart is broken, when the specter of death visits your family, when you feel lost. and alone and inclined to retreat, you present yourself. You entrust your pain to the community.

The text, Middot 2:2, describes a pilgrimage ritual from the Second Temple period. Several times a year, hundreds of thousands of Jews came to Jerusalem, the center of Jewish religious and political life. They climbed the steps of the Temple Mount and entered its immense plaza, turning en masse to the right and turning counterclockwise.

Meanwhile, the broken-hearted, the mourners (and here I would also include the lonely and the sick), were doing this same ritual walk but they were turning left and turning in the opposite direction: each step against the flow.

And every person who met someone who was suffering looked that person in the eye and asked, “What happened to you?” Why does your heart hurt?

“My father is dead,” someone might say. “There are so many things I never got to tell him.” Or maybe: “My partner left. I was completely blinded. Or: “My child is sick. We are waiting for the test results.

Those who walked to the right offered a blessing: “May the Holy One comfort you,” they said. «You’re not alone.» And then they kept walking until the next person approached.

This timeless wisdom is a testament to what it means to be human in a world of pain. This year, you are walking the path of the anxious. Maybe next year it will be me. I hold your broken heart knowing that one day you will hold mine.

I read many profound lessons in this text, two of which are particularly relevant to our times, when so many of us feel disconnected. First, don’t take your broken heart and go home. Don’t isolate yourself. Take a step toward those you know will hold you tenderly.

And on your good days – the days you can breathe – show up too. Because simply seeing those who are going against the tide, those who are struggling to hold on, and asking, with an open heart: “Tell me about your grief,” can be the most profound affirmation of our humanity , even in terribly inhumane conditions. times.

It is an expression of both love and sacred responsibility to turn to another person in their moment of deepest anguish and say, “Your grief can frighten me, it can unsettle me. But I won’t abandon you. I will face your grief with unrelenting love.

We can’t magically mend each other’s broken hearts. But we can come together in our most vulnerable moments and envelop each other in a circle of care. We can humbly promise ourselves, “I can’t take your pain away, but I can promise you that you won’t have to bear it alone.” »

Showing up for each other doesn’t require heroic gestures. This means practicing approaching, even when our instincts tell us to pull away. This means picking up the phone and calling our friend or colleague who is suffering. This means going to funerals and the mourning house. It also means going to the wedding and the birthday dinner. Reach your strength, step forward into your vulnerability. Focus on presence.

Small, tender gestures remind us that we are not helpless, even in the face of serious human suffering. We retain the ability, even in the darkness of night, to find each other. We need it, especially now.

Here is the second lesson from this ancient text. Humans are naturally inclined to the known. Our tribes can lift us up, order our lives, give them meaning and purpose, direction and pride. But tribal instinct can also be perilous. The more closely we identify with our tribe, the more likely we are to reject or even feel hostility toward those who are not part of it.

One of the biggest casualties of tribalism is curiosity. And when we are no longer curious, when we are not trying to imagine or understand what another person is thinking or feeling or where their pain is coming from, our hearts begin to shrink. We become less compassionate and more entrenched in our own worldviews.

Trauma exacerbates this tendency. This reinforces our instinct to turn away from each other, rather than making us even more vulnerable.

There is another important lesson to be learned from this ancient text. On pilgrimage, those who enter the sacred circle and turn left while almost everyone else turns right are grieving or ill. But the text suggests that there is another who turns to the left: the one condemned to ostracism — in Hebrew, the menudeh.

Ostracization was a punishment used sparingly in ancient times. This only applied to those suspected of causing serious harm to the social fabric of the community. Those ostracized were essentially temporarily excommunicated. They had to distance themselves from colleagues and loved ones, they were not counted in a prayer quorum, and they were prohibited from engaging in most social interactions. And incredibly, they too entered the sacred space, where they were also asked: “Tell me, what happened to you?” What is your story?» And they too were blessed.

It’s breathtaking. The ancient rabbis ask us to imagine a society in which no one is disposable. Even those who have hurt us, even those who have opinions antithetical to ours must be considered in their humanity and treated with curiosity and attention.

We desperately need a spiritual overhaul in our time. Imagine a society in which we learn to see ourselves in our pain, to ask ourselves: “What happened to you? Imagine listening to each other’s stories, saying amen to each other’s pain, and even praying for each other’s healing. I call this the amen effect: sincere and tender encounters that help us forge new spiritual and neural paths by reminding us that our lives and our destinies are linked. Because, ultimately, it is only by finding our way to each other that we will begin to heal.

Sharon Brous is the founding and principal rabbi of Ikar, a Jewish community based in Los Angeles, and the author of “The Amen Effect,” from which this essay was adapted.

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