Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Story of Redemption

Last night, Tuesday 2/18, I officiated Ellen and Bill's wedding at their home in Flower Mound, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

When I sat down to write about Ellen and Bill, I was reminded of the story of Amram and Yocheved, Moses' parents.

Most people are familiar with the Biblical account of the birth of Moses. Pharaoh commands that all Hebrew male babies be thrown into the Nile. Moses is born, and hidden for three months. Then his mother puts him in a floating cradle on the Nile, as his sister, Miriam watches over him from afar. Then the daughter of the very Pharaoh, who wants him and his like dead, raises him as her own. He grows up to be the redeemer of Israel.

Now, the rabbis of old, as they are apt to do, embellish the story. They tell us that due to Pharaoh's command, Amram divorced Yocheved, because he did not want to have children, only to have them killed by Pharaoh. When Miriam saw this she confronted her father, and told him that he was worse than Pharaoh, since Pharaoh had commanded all baby boys be eliminated, and Amram was ensuring there would be no baby boys or baby girls born. Amram listened to Miriam, remarried Yocheved, and only due to that act, they had Moses.

Now when they had Moses, since he was a boy, Amram was none too pleased with Miriam, and told her just that. That is why she follows Moses through the bulrushes to see what will be the rest of the story. Once again, the rest of the story is one of redemption.

The lessons of this story and of Ellen and Bill's love story are similar and multifold. Both stories show us that learning can come from the most unexpected places, and so you need to be open to learning from everyone. Both stories tell us that it is totally human to lose faith. However, they also tell us that we can overcome and continue to believe in the capacity for change. And both stories tell us that for learning to be meaningful, for change to be real, we need to act just like Amram and his daughter, Miriam; we need to hold each other accountable.

If you have all of those ingredients, your love story can be one of great redemption. That is the story of Amram and Yocheved, Miriam and Moses. That is the story of Ellen and Bill and their incredible journey. Their collective message is clear. Always be open to learn, believe in the capacity for change, and hold each other accountable. Let us all heed their message.

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