I can understand why someone would want to be a rock. Or, for that matter, an island. After all,
a rock feels no pain and an island never cries. The thick psychological
walls, the hearing-without-listening and speaking-without-communicating, seem to
be helpful coping skills.
After all, why should I allow myself to feel someone's pain when I'm not
feeling too great myself? Why should you share your personal struggles, fears,
aspirations or ambitions, laying bare your vulnerabilities and raw nerves? It
just doesn't seem safe or prudent.
But insulation from the world's heartache inevitably means self-imposed
exile; it means closing the door to one of life's treasures, the beauty of human
It means cheating ourselves.
In the Torah's portrait of a meaningful life, we certainly protect our selves
and our property. But we also brighten our existence with deep and substantive
connections. We create meaningful bonds, with the Divine and with each other; we
create relationships which allow us to share our lives.
It's not easy to share what's beneath the surface.
It's difficult enough
to be honest with G-d. But it's even more difficult to open up to other humans.
I'm never afraid that I'm boring G-d with the story of my life, never afraid
that He doesn't understand, that He'll think less of me or that He'll use my
revealing information against me.
But with people, it sometimes seems safer to be a rock or an island.
the Torah wants us to take the risk.
Because sharing our lives, at whatever
level, enriches our lives.
If I have a friendly acquaintance, I'm not going
to expose my deepest self. But I can get beyond meaningless, plastic chatter to
share something of myself, And I can care enough to listen authentically.
Two people - not even the closest of friends can each invite the other into
his/her life. And they're no longer islands.
We can even go one step further
and invite people into our lives by inviting them into our homes. That's a Torah
value, dating back to Abraham.
Having guests doesn't mean calling friends to
show off your new entertainment center; it means inviting others into your life
by inviting them into your sanctuary, your home.
Open your heart.
Open your home.
An island no more.