Sin, Guilt, and Thanksgiving

Another week, another parshah.  This week we read Tzav which tells us some more about – you guessed it – sacrifices!  Three key sacrifices described are the sin offering, guilt offering, and thanksgiving offering, given after surviving a difficult challenge.

This weekend is also significant because it’s PURIM!!!  A time of reveling and celebration, of openness to change and reversals of fates, a time of joy and relief after a near-tragedy.

Now, by this point, I’m pretty sure the whole concept of the future being unwritten, and the power of one to change the world, and the relationships between these concepts and Purim and the Topsy Turvy Bus Tour, has been discussed many times by our avid followers.  But an interesting factor that this week’s parsha brings up is the idea of sin and guilt.

This past week, your beloved bus crew took a much needed spring break on Key West.  Key West is beautiful and interesting, full of culture and art, museums and gardens, fun people and fun places.  It is also very far away.  So when we made our decision to drive the bus all the way to end of route 1, we new that there was a risk involved – that we would run out of vegetable oil.

It was a risk we decided we could live with.  And, in fact, it was a risk that became fact, and despite our efforts, and although we did manage to get a small amount of waste oil from a hotel on the way, eventually we were reading empty, and for the first time since February 17th Jonathan had to switch to petroleum diesel fuel.

Now, every moral dilemma can be dissected and parsed and argued until we run out of breath, but the simple fact here is that based on our beliefs about fossil fuels and the effects that burning them has on the environment, we, as a group, sinned.

We sinned, but we also accepted guilt, and rather than deny our role in this unfortunate turn of events, or wallow in the weight of our guilt, we acted.  We searched for oil.  A lot.  And eventually, behind a small strip mall in Sarasota, Florida, we hit the largest veggie oil take the bus has ever seen.  We’re now running on 75 gallons of waste vegetable oil – enough to get us 600 miles!

So, sometimes people make mistakes.  Sometimes they even act against their own principles knowingly.  But our tradition teaches us that we can bounce back.  Our ancestors offered sin and guilt sacrifices.  Esther, and the rest of Shushan’s Jews, fasted for three days.  Venahafoch Hu.  Thanksgiving is in order.

Shabbat Shalom and Purim Sameach

~The Topsy Turvy Team

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