As the daughter of a Rabbi, I’m always surprised when I read something completely new – or that I never noticed before – in the Torah. I’ve been through YEARS of Hebrew school, heard hundreds of sermons, sat through countless Torah services and study sessions, you would think I would get the basic story by this point – even if it would take lifetimes to get all the meanings/interpretations, etc.
Well, this week, while reading this week’s Torah portion in my new copy of Everett Fox’s Five Books of Moses (which I LOVE), I read the following of Moses’s words to the Jewish people for the very first time: “So circumcise the foreskin of your heart – your neck you are not to keep hard anymore.” Deuteronomy 10:16.
I immediately read this part over. What evocative language!
Fox drops a note to explain that “circumcising” the foreskin of the heart means to “peel away the ‘thick’ part” to get closer to God. Earlier he notes that Moses keeps telling the Jewish people they have a “hard neck” because they are so stubborn, like a donkey that won’t turn its head.
So this is the situation. We are standing as a people, about to enter the new land. We have thick “foreskins” around our hearts. We are stubborn and scared. But Moses (and God) tells us to go forth anyway, and try to open our hearts and relax our necks. We are loved. We have everything we need within us. We can do it.
Sounds like the perfect analogy to the start of our weekly sitting practice at the Jewish Meditation Center of Brooklyn! Beginning this Monday, August 10th, at 8:00pm, we will come together as a community and open ourselves up to our breath, to God/the universe, to ourselves. Like all other important journeys, it won’t always be an easy road, but I think we will end up in a place with more wisdom, more healing, and more joy – a land of milk and honey.
So if you live in New York, please mark your calendar! Let’s explore together the resistance we hold against change and the powerful hearts we keep so carefully protected.