Saturday, August 15, 2020

Plow Forward and Overcome

Thursday night, I officiated Ellie and Edwin’s wedding ceremony at the Springs Events in Aubrey – the Lodge, in Aubrey, Texas. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:

You might wonder why Ellie, an off the beaten path LDS member and Edwin, a (likely) undefined theist of Christian origin, would choose a rabbi to officiate their wedding. Not if you know them, however; if you know them this makes perfectly good sense, precisely because it doesn’t. They are both very deep thinkers and to say they are iconoclasts in their thinking is an understatement.  

Now, though I am not your average rabbi (another understatement), to a hammer, everything is a nail. So, naturally, when I think of Ellie and Edwin, I am reminded of a comment made by a 16th Century Polish rabbi. 

Rabbi Moshe Isserles was one of the most important authorities in the history of the development of Jewish Law. His rulings take the form of glosses on the text of his Spanish counterpart, Rabbi Yosef Karo’s compendium, the Shulchan Aruch or Set Table.

Sometimes he is silent regarding his counterpart’s rulings, sometimes he has a short comment about them, and sometimes his glosses are much lengthier than Karo’s text. The first gloss in this compendium is an example of the latter. Isserles, commenting on just ten of Karo’s words, goes on at length, quoting not only scripture and previous legal sources as he is wont to often do, but even a philosophical work.

And then, in the very first gloss in this lengthy multi-volume compendium, he makes a comment that might seem curious for a religion focused not on beliefs or emotions, but on action, “And he should not feel shame because of those people who ridicule him in the work of the Lord, blessed be His Name.”

Most people are deathly afraid of what other people will say. And, so they conform. They just go with the flow. They never step out of line. I’m not sure how you would say this in 16th Century Polish, but what Isserles says here is, basically, screw that.

Recognize that those who try to do the right thing will always face opposition. This is just the nature of the world. Inoculate yourself, so you may continue to do the work. Know that there will be forces arrayed against you, and plow forward and overcome them. And, just like Ellie and Edwin, do not feel shame because of those people who ridicule you in the work of the Lord, blessed be His Name.

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