Saturday, June 11, 2016

Omer 2016 Day 49: Ruth

Day 49: Malchut in Malchut, Leadership in Leadership

We made it to the end of the Omer! Tonight is Shavuot, the holiday that celebrates our receiving the Torah at Sinai after the exodus from Egypt. But before we celebrate our physical and spiritual freedom with cheesecake and late-night learning, we have to reflect on the 49th day of the Omer, leadership in leadership.

At our Passover seders 49 days ago, we all sat around our tables and read from the haggadah, "In every generation, each person must see himself or herself as if he or she personally experienced the Exodus from Egypt." Over the past 49 days, we have counted the Omer as if we were on a personal journey from slavery to freedom. It is also said that every Jewish person who had ever or would ever exist was present at Sinai when God gave us the Torah. Much of Judaism is about the collective - praying together, studying together, eating, mourning, and celebrating together - but I am reminded today that it is also an intensely personal experience. Each Jew understands Judaism in his or her own way. Each Jew embodies the seven sephirot of the Omer differently. Each of us comes with our own lens on the world which causes us to interpret the Omer differently. Even from year to year, my perspectives on the days of the Omer have changed as my experiences have changed.

Leaders must be able to balance the personal and the communal, their personal goals with the welfare of the people they lead. As the first convert, Ruth stands as the model on which conversions are based, a perfect example of leadership in leadership.

"Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people will be my people, and your God my God." (Ruth 1:16)
She is leadership in leadership, because her choice to convert shows an understanding and acceptance of this fundamental piece of Jewish life and leadership. She not only undertook a new personal identity and life, but also embraced the fact that doing so would make her part of the collective Jewish people.