Oct. 8, 2020

Rabbi Levi Welton on Exodus 5:22 – “Biblical Humility: Sublimating Ourselves to Our Principles” - S1E68


Rabbi Levi Welton is Mark’s very special guest on the podcast today. As a modern exemplar of the ancient Rabbis who held occupations, Levi not only works as the spiritual leader of Lincoln Park Jewish Center, but also as a healer for low-income patients in NYC, and as a chaplain in the United States Air Force. The passage he has chosen to discuss is Exodus 5:22.

Levi begins the discussion with his summary of the passage, why it is his favorite, and the lesson that God wants us to take away from it. He and Mark then explore many of the concepts which flow out of this rich passage such as biblical humility, challenging God, the nature of truth, and God as King rather than Judge. They also examine the relevance of this passage today, the biblical stories of Jonah, the Flood, and the Tower of Babel, as well as the passage’s perspective on social activism and an approachable God. At the conclusion, Levi shares the lessons about mankind which he has learned which, in turn, lead to a fascinating discussion about pastoring to non-Jews in his role as Air Force chaplain. This conversation, which quickly expands to touch on so many aspects of both the Torah and of society today, demonstrates yet again how ‘one biblical passage can yield so much wisdom’, providing invaluable lessons and guidance for all.

Episode Highlights:

  • Levi’s summary of the passage and why it is his favorite verse
  • The lesson that God wants us to take away from this verse
  • Biblical humility
  • Challenging God
  • The nature of truth
  • The relevance of this passage today
  • Levi’s struggle with his faith
  • God as King
  • The story of Jonah
  • Contrasting the story of the Flood and the Tower of Babel
  • This passage’s perspective on social activism
  • An approachable God
  • The lessons Levi has learned about mankind
  • Pastoring to non-Jews

Quotes:

“This is a mortal human arrogantly accusing God of evil.”

“Moses is talking about evil done to ‘the other’.”

“Stop thinking about what you need, and think what you’re needed for.”

“He’s very confident, he’s very aware of his great gifts, but always sublimates himself to his principles and thinks very little, if ever, about himself.”

“Whatever God presents to him in that moment, Moses is open to doing what the moment requires.”

“If you’re a guarantor for somebody else, you must be richer than everybody else in something, so go identify what that thing is.”

“One of the great things about Judaism is it’s one long ongoing conversation.”

“There’s only two different types of men in the world – the decent man and the indecent man.”

“Being a person of service, not a servant, but a person of service, opens you up to changing their lives.”

“We’re not satisfied with being an animal…this human condition is constantly striving for more.”

“The uniform unites the people regardless of their diversity, because they’re all a person of service…that creates an interesting safe place – container – for conversations which sometimes I don’t see out in the large public.”

“If you could confess to your friend, or to your spouse, to whoever it is that you trust, and create that space where you could talk about the things that are holding you down…you could become open to your greatness.”

“People come to me as a Chaplain, and a lot of times I’m not even talking about anything to do with religion.”

“It’s the Chaplain’s role, which is a very important role in the military, is the spiritual resiliency that goes into creating a warrior.”

“Be that light to the nations.”

Exodus 5:22 Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why did You bring harm upon this people? Why did You send me? https://www.sefaria.org/Exodus.5.22?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en

Links:

The Rabbi’s Husband homepage: http://therabbishusband.com/

Mark’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/markgerson?lang=en

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