1. Share everything.
2. Play fair.
3. Don't hit people.
4. Put things back where you found them.
5. CLEAN UP YOUR OWN MESS.
6. Don't take things that aren't yours.
7. Say you're SORRY when you HURT somebody.
8. Wash your hands before you eat.
10. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
11. Live a balanced life - learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
12. Take a nap every afternoon.
13. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
14. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Stryrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
15. Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. So do we.
16. And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first workd you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK.”
The number one rule Fulghum learned in Kindergarten – share everything.
Sounds like a wonderful idea.
The Rabbis are not so sure.
They teach us, there are 4 types of people, exemplified by 4 statements about the way we think and relate to others with regard to our possessions.
What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours. This is average and some say it’s the way of the people of Sodom.
What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine. This is a simpleton.
What’s mine is yours and what’s yours is yours. This is a reverent person.
What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine. This is a wicked one.
According to the Rabbis, ‘share everything’ is the virtue of only a simpleton, someone disengaged, disconnected, often translated as ‘ignorant’.
The reverent one, the Chasid, is considered such because he or she offers his or her things to others but does not expect anything in return.
I read a recent parenting article that suggested a similar lesson – That it is a better parenting technique not to expect siblings (or friends) to share what they have but to give them space to negotiate when and how they will share what they have – empowering them to make the decision.
(Let me pause here for a moment. What do you think of this teaching?)
And so we find support also in our parsha that sharing everything, at least to start, is not always the best way to operate.
This week, as our parsha concludes, Moses, according to a tradition, hands over the Torah to the people, but according to this Midrash (Yalkut Shimoni 938) Moses hands over the Torah to his brothers and sisters the Tribe of Levi. The others, the rest of the people, are not so happy about this.
They approach Moses and say, “Hey Moses, Our teacher,” (I added the Hey for effect) We also were at Sinai, and the Torah was given to us, so why are you giving the Tribe of Levi authority over it? And then the Levites will say to us tomorrow: (Again I add for effect) Na, na-na-na-nah The Torah wasn’t given to you, it was given to us! - But Moses was happy about this…
Why was he happy?
He was happy because at that moment he knew that all the people of Israel are seeking to be closer, and wanting to love God.
Once again, the lesson here is that to get to the point we all want to take part, that we all want to share in something special, first we may require going without it to make sure it’s what we really want.
We soon will welcome in a New Year together, and when we begin to think about our hopes and expectations for the New Year we can take a page from these two teachings, one from the Rabbis on the words of our parsha, and one from our Rabbis about the way people think and act in general. We can take a page that reminds us to think very carefully about what we are seeking as we make the turn of teshuvah. Are we dreaming, are we realistic, a little of both? Are the ‘things’ we’re hoping for actual items or are we really searching for intangibles like peace of mind, strength, patience, clarity of thinking, and inspiration?
We still have time to sort through our thoughts – and I invite you to join us Sunday evening at 7 for Selichot, a time when we’ll join together here in a smaller, intimate setting, in the round, to meditate, sing, pray, reflect, seek healing and take that necessary deep breath we need to clear away for a moment the cares of the day and begin to imagine what tomorrow could be.
And although I’’ve suggested I disagree with Robert Fulgum about share everything, I will promise Sunday evening that we’ll have milk and cookies – good for us, and good for the soul. Shabbat Shalom.