I had an unpleasant experience this week. It happened at a time and in a place I would not expect it – during a gathering of religious professionals – more particularly, during a worship service that was part of a large and major gathering of Jewish religious professionals. That’s really not a time and place one would expect to have an unpleasant experience.
I was there to assist those who had been asked to lead a service for this group. They had asked me to supplement their efforts with some technological support. The details aren’t necessary, though some of you in my circle already know the circumstances. Suffice to say that my effort to supplement and support the service with technology was abruptly interrupted and eventually stopped early during the course of the service. It was done with a complete lack of tact and sensitivity, and with argumentative discussions carried on in the midst of an ongoing worship service, largely in view or hearing of those participating. I was hurt. I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. In point of fact, for my own sanity, even though the signal had been cut off, I continued to actually run the remainder of the presentation on my laptop through the end of the service. I, at least, saw it through. That enabled me to get through it with at least some sense of self worth.
I am, admittedly, very much a Pollyanna type who seeks the good in everything and tends to gloss over bad situations, including ones which have caused me hurt. (I am proud, though, to have not mistakenly channeled my upset and anger at others who were merely pawns in the drama. They, in fact, expressed their thanks for the calm and self-effacing way I dealt with it in the moment.) So I did somewhat downplay my feelings for the remainder of the evening, but it succeeded only with great rumblings hidden beneath the surface. I sought catharsis for my hurt by reaching out to friends in the community and sharing my story with them. The simply act of putting my feelings down in words and sharing it with others proved quite efficacious at moving me to a better place.
[In the interest of full disclosure, I did receive, indirectly, an apology for the manner in which this was handled at the time. I’m still not pleased with how things were handled, or with the particular policies that resulted in the unfortunate incident, but I am pleased there was at least recognition that not all were on their best behavior in the moment.]
The day after all this, I heard from two friends. Both had life-altering things happen to them that day. In comparison, my unpleasant experience seems insignificant. Nothing was hurt except perhaps my pride. That made it much easier to move on. Or it could have. I have to admit to still having an internal discomfort that is hard to shake, and may take some time to heal. However, turning my focus to the woes of others which, at least from my viewpoint far surpassed my own difficulties did provide a convenient tool to aid me in getting through this (or in stuffing it down further. Which it was remains to be seen. I can be passive-aggressive. I only hope and pray I can control that and work my way through it all.
Now, I have friends who know me and who encourage my continued righteous indignation. They remind me that I do sometimes stuff my feelings, and that this is not healthy. Yes, what happened to me was unpleasant and hurtful. However, there has been an apology of sorts, and there are friends of mine with far greater hurts who deserve my attention. So I can move on from here. I think.
Now I have a confession to make. Normally, this is about the point where’d I make a connection to the parasha or haftarah. The whole time I’ve been writing this over the past few days, I’ve also been desperately searching for a connection to the parasha or haftarah. Frankly, I’m usually successful at such things, though I often have to make a big stretch. Well I’ve tried everything I can think of with no luck. Every connection I find is simply too much of a stretch. I’ve got nothing. Bupkis. In fact, dear reader, if you can help me find one, I’d sure appreciate it.
So I’ll just refer you to previous musings on this parasha and haftarah (see below,) some of which I think are pretty good. Before I go, however, I want to throw this random thought about the parasha at you.
In chapter 15, we read in verse 2:
דַּבְּרוּ אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַֽאֲמַרְתֶּם אֲלֵהֶם אִישׁ אִישׁ כִּי יִֽהְיֶה זָב מִבְּשָׂרוֹ זוֹבוֹ טָמֵא הֽוּא
Speak to the Israelite people and say to them: when any man has a discharge issuing from his member, he is unclean.
The word used here for discharge, זָב zav, is built upon the root that means to flow, as used in “eretz zavat chalav ud’vash,” “a land flowing with milk and honey.” As the Torah isn’t without its humorous moments, there’s probably some interesting biblical sexual playfulness and innuendo in there. In one case, flowing is positively wonderful. In another case, it’s unclean and impure.
From this I conclude that sometimes it’s good to go with the flow, and sometimes it is not. Wait a minute! There’s a possible connection to my experience this week…
Tazria-M'tzora 5773-Even Lepers Bring Good News-Redux, Revised, & Expanded
Tazria-Metzora 5772 - We Are the Lepers
Tazria-Metzora 5770 - Excessive Prevention
Tazria-M'tzora 5767-Once Impure, Not Always Impure
Tazria-Metzora 5766 - Comfort in Jerusalem
Tazria-Metzora 5758/5764-Getting Through the Messy Stuff
Tazria-Metzora 5761-Lessons For Our Students
Tazria-Metzora 5762-Sing a Song of Leprosy