March 2012 - Jason Forbes

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What do I enjoy most about being a rabbi?  I love teaching and interacting with people in ways that challenge them to grow.   For many years I've lead a mid-week Torah study with my community.   I treasure the time when we can all interact with the Scriptures.  We spend time understanding the stories and lives of the people on those pages.  From these we learn about life's meaning, relationships, and holiness.    It is most fulfilling when they encounter the "ahah" moment, when they understand a concept that they have been struggling with and the light finally turns on for them.  I have many of my own "ahah" moments as I study with them.   It is a privilege to learn alongside members of my community.

Our community has a vision for creating welcoming Jewish spaces.  We went through several years of transformation where we explored a new depth of knowledge and appreciation for Hebrew Liturgy, the richness of Jewish Tradition, and participation in the age old dialog of the Sages and their timeless Torah lessons.   Our hope is that this kind of atmosphere, bathed in the compassion and teachings of our Messiah Yeshua, will be a place where seekers can truly learn and grow.

As a rabbi, I feel a strong responsibility to give my community tools for personal and spiritual growth.  This growth is not just for the advancement of self, but for the betterment of the Kingdom of Heaven and the world under our feet.  Aware of the ever present struggles in our lives, the lives of our congregants, and our wider movement, my wife Malkah and I decided to formalize the practice of personal character growth in our community.

After much searching, we felt the best way was to tap into a Jewish practice called Mussar, a 13-step program to becoming a better human being.  The practice of Mussar is rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures and was codified through the ages.  Many other branches of Judaism have experienced great renewal through Mussar.  We realized we needed to bring it into our local community and the wider Messianic Jewish movement.   Though Mussar has been practiced in many Jewish circles, we had the opportunity to bring into it the teachings of the ultimate Mussar master - Messiah Yeshua.  We soon realized the enormous potential of giving people the tools to become the people Yeshua calls us to be. Yeshua's invitation to take up his yoke in his Kingdom is established on the foundation of repentance and turning away from our destructive habits.  The lessons he taught us were not just for the World to Come but for this world.  Through this, the Riverton Mussar program was developed.

As a vocation, being a rabbi is only part of what defines me.  I also work full time as a software engineer developing medical devices.   This is very fulfilling work, especially as I come into contact with the people our technology has touched and helped.  This is part of my work toward tikkun olam, a repaired world.  Though being an engineer also defines me, I see all of my various roles as integrated.  As a husband, father, rabbi and engineer, I am one person guided by Hashem's unique purpose for me.  I am most blessed when I can assist those around me see their own purpose and work to achieve it.

 

Read more about Rabbi Forbes on his profile page.