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Aleph Beta Reacts
Video 4 of 7
\tMy name is David Block, I work on content and curriculum development, it's nice to be back, I wasn't here last week. With me today is a very, very special guest. Carly Friedman. Carly is Director of Educational Programming, and she's really awesome and I'm very excited to have you here today.
Carly Friedman:\tThanks for having me.
David Block:\tSo as I mentioned, this week we are discussing Parshat Shemini and in this week's Parsha video, Rabbi Fohrman discusses a story that's much less well known. In this week's Parsha we know that Nadav and Avihu are actually killed for bringing an Aish Zarah - a foreign flame to G-d in the Tabernacle. But right after that there's a very strange and kind of mysterious story and that's what really Rabbi Fohrman explained in this week's video - if you haven't yet listened to it, we definitely encourage you to go back and check that out before you come back and join us here and listen to our reactions, and perhaps share yours as well.
\tSo let's just jump right in, Carly, what did you think of the video? What did you take out of it? What did it mean to you?
Carly Friedman:\tSo the part of the video that most resonated with me, was when Rabbi Fohrman was discussing how after Moshe rebuked the sons of Aaron, and Aaron said, how can you expect more, I'm grieving, and Moshe accepted it, and essentially you would assume G-d accepted that. I thought that that message was really beautiful and really profound if you think about it in terms of our relationship with G-d. The same way that the Kohanim their humanity eclipsed their obligations and their roles, G-d does the same thing with us. G-d accepts our humanness and even builds that into the fabric of our observances.
David Block:\tI really love that idea because I think - at least when I'm reading the Torah a lot - I feel like the people are like robots. Like G-d says something and then they have to do it, and everyone is happy. But Aaron and his sons are really grieving, as you said, a terrible loss, and in that moment those expectations are actually are there, Moshe says, like hey, why didn't you do this the way you should have? Then the response of, you got to back off right now. Like right now, I just can't deal with it. Is really cool, it kind of humanizes them and really makes our relationship with G-d a real relationship. There's a back and forth, there's low points, there's high points, and recognition of that is really fundamental.
\tSo I guess my question to you is, do you have any examples of that? Where - you mentioned that G-d is kind of accepting and understanding of where we are in a certain phase in our lives, and kind of accepts and realizes our humanity and our emotions in face of, let's say, general expectations.
Carly Friedman:\tActually when I was watching the video, the first thing that popped into my head was this concept of an Onen. An Onen is someone who is in this limbo phase after their loved one passes away, before they bury the body, they have no obligations to do any Mitzvos. So if I understand correctly they are not supposed to be making any blessings or praying. This is essentially G-d building into our relationship moments for us to be able to be human and grieve.
David Block:\tWe can't always be on.
Carly Friedman:\tYeah, and in those moments it's like our humanness takes precedence over our partnership with G-d in those ways.
David Block:\tIt's kind of actually a testament to the relationship that G-d allows that. Like we're actually not focusing on G-d when we're grieving, in that period of Aninut, when a person is an Onen. Actually Rabbi Fohrman spoke about that at the end of last year's Parsha series, where one of the steps in our relationship with G-d was G-d's recognition that we can't always love. That recognition, not having that expectation, is actually also a tremendous form of love. We always talk about how love is a reciprocal relationship; I give to you, you give to me, and we kind of form that bond. But another form of love is really recognizing when the other person is not really there. So it's not just that we don't feel that we can do that obligation, but, as you said, G-d doesn't have that expectation. That's also a really cool way in which our relationship really manifests.
Carly Friedman:\tThat's exactly what I was thinking. Like the fact that G-d halts our obligations and gives us the time and the space to grieve in that way, is the true testament to a real partnership and a real relationship. Because He's accepting us as we are, and He's essentially mourning with us, because He's giving us the ability to put everything else on hold.
David Block:\tThat's really beautiful.
\tIf we can just shift gears, to one more idea that I thought was really, really poignant in the videos, and that was that in the moment in which Aaron was grieving, and again, Moses kind of almost chastised them and said, hey it seems that you brought the wrong sacrifice or you treated it improperly. Then Aaron said, hey, back off, we're not there right now. It almost seems as if Aaron was saying, listen, we understand that it wasn't necessarily the right thing, but right now that's not what we can hear.
\tI think one of the things that I took out of it, is that, when a person is going through something, when I'm going through something, when others are going through something, it's not always the best to try to make it better at that moment. To call out, hey, should you do that, should you not do that? Sometimes you just have to listen and validate. The role of - I guess - a partner, is not always to make it right, it's not always to figure out a solution, but sometimes it's just to listen and to understand and to be there.
Carly Friedman:\tYeah, I totally hear that, that happens all the time and it's so cool to be able to see in a text, like these two really unique, human experiences, that we all have, all the time. To be able to see it in the relationships between the Kohen Gadol and Moshe and G-d, it's really, really awesome.
David Block:\tYeah I love the relevance. It actually just came up. I was talking with a few of my students, we were talking about an incident that happened, there was, unfortunately, a car accident that happened locally. One of the students suggested that, oh I wonder if he was wearing a seatbelt. Or at that point like, oh, he really should have done things differently, the driver should have been more careful et cetera. That might all be true and in the future that's something that's important for everyone to hear, that hey you should practise driving safely, and you should put on your seatbelt. But right now, that's probably not what the person could hear. Right now, he just needs to be understood, he needs to be validated. The person who is going through something, yeah for sure there is a right way, and later on you can discuss that and kind of make sure it doesn't happen again, or improve it in the future. But in the moment, I'm not sure that would so effective, I'm not sure the person would be able to hear it.
\tI just - I feel like that's true in my life a lot. There are frustrations that I have and when I speak about it with a friend sometimes the feeling of, hey this is how to do it better, that's not what I need. I definitely need it later, when I'm kind of not in it, but sometimes you just kind of need to feel, you need to be able to feel that emotion without wondering how to make it better.
Carly Friedman:\tYeah, I think this is definitely relevant right now. I know this is a little touchy, but right now we're all mourning the loss of the seven children in Brooklyn, we're all feeling it, we're all going through the emotions, and we're all suffering and grieving. Some people are trying to use this time to push the agenda of fire safety and making sure that your hotplate works and while that's valuable, and it's definitely something we should be considering in the future, right now it's the time to feel the emotions and grieve and think about that. Think about us as a collective Jewish family who is grieving together. Right now is not the time to start focusing on the solution.
David Block:\tYeah it's a really powerful point.
Carly Friedman:\tThe truth is, it's not always something that's so dramatic, it happens to us all the time, it happens on a day-to-day basis. I remember in high school or something when I would come home and I'd be complaining to my mother about a stupid drama with my friends, and my mum would always be like, you have to do X, Y and Z to make this better. I'd be like, don't try to tell me what I need to do to make it better, I just want to complain to you and I just want to be sad and I just want you to be there. Like half the time that's really what anyone just wants from their friends or from their spouse or from their family, they just want support and they want to feel emotionally validated. They don't necessarily want the solutions.
David Block:\tIt's kind of a prerequisite to the solutions. Meaning, you can have the solutions later, but in the moment that's not what you can hear.
\tAlso, Mrs. Rothenberg, we love you. Thank you for allowing us to use you as an example.
David Block:\tAnyway, Carly this has been awesome.
Carly Friedman:\tThanks for having me.
David Block:\tYeah, I know you had a great time also.
\tAnd as always, all of you listeners, we really love to hear how you reacted to these videos, what you took away from it. Please post your comments below the video and we hope to hang out with you very, very soon in our next edition of Aleph Beta Reacts.
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