A Bisl Torah

Why an Olive Branch?

This week’s Bisl Torah is featured in the Jewish Journal:

Many of my conversations with people in abusive or volatile relationships begin with the following mental negotiation: “Rabbi, I understand that my current situation is unhealthy and unstable, but it is all I know. To leave this life is entering a new world I can’t begin to understand.” The negotiation is often the nurturing of an inner dialogue, a back and forth between an existence that while detrimental, is predictable and another that while, pulsating with the unknown, is filled with endless possibility. Some choose light; but so many return to the dark.

This week, we read the story of Noah and his sending a dove out of the ark to find dry land. Medieval commentator of the Torah, the Radak asks, “Why did the dove choose a leaf from an olive tree?” He explains with an answer found in the Talmud: that even a bitter tasting leaf eaten in freedom was preferable to being cooped up in luxurious surroundings. In other words, the dove put her trust in God, understanding that while new beginnings may first be bitter, the hope that freedom brings is worth the initial struggle.

It is real gamble. To change direction and embark on uncharted territory. To leave what is comfortable and swim away, praying that you’ll end up on dry land. The dove is reminding us that first steps into new worlds are often muddy, dirty, and difficult. But first steps lead to trailblazing efforts, building roads that guide us to living purposeful and meaningful lives.

Take a leap of faith. A new world filled with light and wonder is waiting.

Shabbat Shalom

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