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“Forget regret, for life is yours to miss.” -- Shabbat Message 3/20/2015

Posted on 03/20/2015 @ 12:00 PM

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” ― Henry David Thoreau

“Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are, ‘It might have been.’” ― Kurt Vonnegut

“Forget regret, for life is yours to miss.” — Rent

“YOLO” — Every teen at some point or another

We’ve all heard these before. In fact, many of us really embody these ideals, trying to live our lives so that there is no regret for our actions. This week’s parsha, Vayikra, sets up the parameters for how we deal with regret – how we atone when we have broken one of G-d’s (many) rules.

But of course, it’s not a simple set of instructions. There are many ways of atoning, both based on the sin and on who you are. The rabbis teach that the method of “making right” depends on our rationale for “doing wrong”. The Torah says that if we committed our sin unknowingly, then we must be the ones to make the sacrifice to atone for it. However, if we knowingly committed the sin, it is the responsibility of the leaders to take responsibility and also atone.

Why are leaders responsible for someone else who knowingly sins? Often times, people in authoritarian roles believe that there are two separate sets of rules that exist—one for those who are leading and one for those who are following. In reality, this tells us just the opposite. By having one set of rules that applies to everyone, it requires us to lead by example. “Do as I say….” doesn't work in this parsha.

But this text actually seems to take it even further. It puts the requirement for being good role models into a tangible act. If you, Leader, the text says, don’t demonstrate good behavior for your followers to follow, you will have to pay the price (literally, with pidgeons and goat offerings). If we, as staff and leaders, play on our cell phones in the back of the room during a program, then when our teens do the same, we should accept responsibility since we have modelled that behavior. If we, as staff and leaders, do not set aside Shabbat as a time different from the rest of the week – then how can we possibly expect our teens to do so? And yet, it’s so easy to separate ourselves from our leadership roles. “I’m just too busy to stop for a full day.” “They’re all participating in the program, no one will notice if I’m on my phone.”

When we live our lives so that we are proud of our actions and behaving as the example that we want to be, then we are really living without regret.

“No day but today”— Rent

This Shabbat Message was written by Tamar Sternfeld, Regional Director, Dixie Council BBYO.

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