Parashat Shemini

Overcoming And Learning From Our Mistakes

Recognizing our fallibility can lead us to compassion and empathy for our fellow humans, and bring us closer to God and others.

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We might even theorize that it would be especially important for Aaron to have this kind of humility because he (and the other priests) would perform the "sin offerings" of the regular Israelites--and how could he help someone else put their mistakes behind them if he didn't have empathy for what it felt like?

Coming to understand and accept our own imperfections and mistakes can help us feel compassion and empathy for our fellow fallible humans. Seen this way, the right kind of humility helps us come closer to God and others. The wrong kind holds us back, because we think that we've messed up so badly nothing can be done about it. To paraphrase Rabbi Nachman of Breslov: "if you believe you can sin, then believe you can fix what's broken!"

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Rabbi Neal J. Loevinger

Rabbi Neal Joseph Loevinger is currently the rabbi of Temple Beth-El in Poughkeepsie, NY. A former student at Kolel, he served as Kolel's Director of Outreach from late 1999-2001. He was ordained in the first graduating class of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies of the University of Judaism, and holds a Master's of Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto.