7 Shvat 5781 / Wednesday, January 20, 2021 | Torah Reading: Bo
 
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Bridge to Somewhere    

Bridge to Somewhere



The label “Bat Noach” really does apply to me. Hashem picked this for me. It is unique, rare, difficult. It is hard to explain to people. It is lonely at times…

 



About a year and a half ago Rabbi Brody contacted me and brought up the idea of writing for the Noachide World on Breslev Israel. When he asked me if I thought it would be of interest to me, I had some mixed feelings and fears, but also thought it was a natural fit in many ways. And I felt, and still feel even more so, honored. What a gift, a blessing, a surprise.

But there was one part of the offer that made me feel conflicted, even sad. To be one hundred percent honest, I was a little offended: I did not like being referred to as a Bat Noach. I thought,  I am me. Spare me the labels. Even writing this sixteen months later the emotion is brought back to the surface. A part of me felt like I was being put into a box. I did not like being told I was part of a group with which I somehow automatically had so much in common. After all, I was not raised as a person who was part of any group. Truthfully, if there was one major flaw with my family it is that we did not even see ourselves as one in many ways, so I did not even have that group to be a part of. To be shoved into a group or reminded that there is actually a label that applies to me felt wrong.
 
I remember talking with a Jewish friend about my identity crisis. “I see myself as a person who believes in the Torah and Hashem. I see you as a person who believes in the Torah and Hashem. What is this Bnei Noach thing?” The comparisons continued, some not so nice or mature - I’ll just admit that right up front. I learn more Torah than millions and millions of Jewish people. (Not a difficult task these days, sadly.) If I could go to synagogue and take Torah classes six days per week, I would. What is this “Bnei Noach” Rabbi Brody is talking about?
  
I really wondered what on earth I could write about. The Torah I was learning applies to anyone, it seemed to me. The books I read are written for anyone who believes in Torah or for Jewish people. There are Bnei Noach out there who are way more knowledgeable about Torah as it applies specifically to us than I am, for sure. And as a side note, I sure wish they would get over their writing fears and put some more material out there because I would like to learn from them, along with many other people.
 
It has taken a long time to come to grips, as much as I have, with this identity struggle. It reminds me of a show I once saw about a black woman who had been raised by a white family. She was talking with the interviewer about the first time she realized that she looked different from her siblings. She described looking at a group photo of the whole family and seeing this dark-skinned person there in the middle with curly hair. She had that moment where she saw that she was physically different and realized that that might mean something, which raised questions for her. I can relate.
 
When I became religious it was such a powerful feeling, and I am such a head strong and stubborn mule of a woman, there was really nothing that was going to keep me from getting the learning I needed. I have had people blatantly embarrass me and insult me and have continued on. I did not let my lack of Jewishness stop me, and I am glad I did not. I asked myself, “Do I love Hashem enough to put up with the people who don’t get it? Yes!” Then I went back. Those people teach me about humility and ironically about what it would be like if I converted. Jews are misunderstood constantly – so inside I thanked Hashem for using that person to teach me that lesson. I felt Hashem right there with me forging ahead. When you feel like you have got the King with you, you will put up with a lot. As Rabbi Arush has said, “If you fear One, you fear no one.”
   
It has been an incredible gift to be faced with the challenge of realizing that I am not Jewish. And not only am I not Jewish, I am something else. There is a label that applies to me: I am a Bat Noach. Hashem picked this for me. It is unique. It is rare. It is difficult. It is hard to explain to people. It is lonely at times. There are a million questions I have and I really need Hashem to get down here right now and to answer them for me and for you. But this is what I am. And if you are a Ben or Bat Noach reading this, this is what you are. Going through an identity crisis is never easy, but it is especially unnerving if you end up discovering you are something about which you know very little, and to make matters worse, the experts often do not know what to tell you about who you are either. One way to look at this that is very exciting is to wonder why Hashem would pick you as an individual to be a part of this. Maybe it is a compliment to you that Hashem thinks you can handle the rigors of this situation. Perhaps there are people who could not handle these challenges, but He knows you can.
 
We have a chance to help build bridge after bridge between the Jewish and Gentile world and to let everyone know these bridges are built by the same Creator – not one for every people, but One over all people. There is one world, built by one God. There is one Truth. The bridge builders need to know the terrain on both sides of the river. 
 
They need to be willing to leave the comfort of the fold. They need to think creatively, to not be afraid of getting wet, to be able to keep forging ahead even when people on both sides of the river do not think they want or will use the bridge at all. We need to accept that Hashem does not always give us jobs that the people around us will understand, and that we can grow a great deal as people when we put our nose to the grind stone and have the humility to do something that may be confusing to other people, but is not at all confusing to the Creator.




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