Rabbi Siemers – July 2017
Just days ago I read in the Bangor Daily News what is probably the greatest news story I will ever read, the headline goes Mainer Attacked by Rabid Raccoon Drowns it in Puddle. The headline actually tells the whole story, as does the follow-up Maine Jogger who Killed Rabid Raccoon Becomes Overnight Media Sensation. And as will the inevitable (and deserved) sequel Maine Journalist who Brilliantly Covered Raccoon Drowning Jogger Receives Acclaim and Riches. The second-greatest state in the Union is back far, far in our dust.
We are each full of surprises; every person has untapped potential. Sometimes this is exhibited in a moment of danger that falls upon us, like this young woman’s encounter with the proverbial rabid raccoon, but more often it is displayed in people who have put themselves on the spot because they saw something that needed to be done and decided that they would be the person to do it. Everyday we see such people in the community and in our synagogue. They lead worship services, they chair committees, they put themselves on the line to make sure that the community can be everything it can be. The stress they accept is not the fear of attack, but is of something that most of us fear even more, which is the fear of watching ourselves fail. When an event doesn’t go off, or when people we approach for support say no – it hurts in a way that we dread as we dread physical pain. Jerry Seinfeld had a joke that when asked people say that they fear public speaking more than death – at funerals we are more nervous for the person eulogizing the deceased than for the deceased. The greatest fear is often not physical, but the fear of failure.
If we move past this we can do great things. Everyone who leads services misses a note or two, everyone who read Torah makes mistakes and everyone who asks for money has had people tell them no. Failure isn’t fun. Putting ourselves on the line on a regular basis teaches us that being afraid is far worse than failing, and that sometimes we will even succeed. The congregation needs your efforts and your courage. Have a great summer. Steer clear of raccoons.
Rabbi Bill Siemers