Honorable Mensch-ion

In Between

There is a fine line between sacred and profane, holy and ordinary, pure and impure. That grey area is where the prophets live.

Ezekiel in our Haftorah this Shabbat said that the priests shall distinguish for the people these differences. Viktor Frankl, in “Man’s Search For Meaning,” writes: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In the space there is the power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” There is an entire section of the Mishna, the Oral Torah, that is focused on the word between. Most of our lives are lived in that in between space, and it is our response that creates the meaning. On which side of the “between” do we dwell? Are we static or are we dynamic? This is articulated in the Rabbinic argument as to the definition of nightfall. Is it the time of sunset or the time of three stars shining in the sky? The Rabbis cleverly define this time as bein hashmashot, “in between the suns.” In a world where we search for clarity, a yes or a no, a this or a that, a black or a white, the beauty of our tradition is to live in the bein, the difficult yet glorious time of in between. We are in between Passover and Shavuot and between freedom and revelation. After we receive the Torah, we will once again be in between; in between revelation and en route to the promised land.

Each Shabbat, we acknowledge where we have been and where we are going. On Shabbat….we pause to give thanks for the in between.

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