I came across a post on Facebook this week that I sat with for a long time and then hesitantly re-posted. It’s by a woman named Leah Solomon who lives in Jerusalem. I don’t know her, I’m not even her Facebook friend. But we have friends in common and she works for Encounter, an organization that brings Jews and Palestinians together to listen to one another. I read her words and I want to share them with you in their entirety.
The best parts of life are the surprises.
Here we have a story of surprise. The scouts are surprised that the Promised Land is a frightening place, with looming giants. Why would Gd, whom they trusted, promise them a land like this, with these terrifying people in it?
I had a chance on Thursday to talk to our member Jared Dougall, who’s 18 years old, one of my son Benji’s closest friends (they met at Yachad), and is living and working in Tel Aviv these few months, taking a break from his first year at the University of Michigan. Jared is a really smart, thoughtful intellectual, and he and I have had many conversations over the years about Israel/Palestine, as well as all about American politics.
Lucy, what a beautiful d’var Torah. I love that you connected rest to freedom, Shabbat to Shmita to Yom Kippur to Yovel (Jubilee). I love that you brought us two evocative teachings about t’ruah, the shofar sound that, according to the Mehilta of Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, is the sound of breaking chains of slavery, and according to Ketav v’haKabbalah, the sound of fellowship and friendship.
One of the curiosities of pandemic life in our synagogue is that time is jumbled, juxtaposing Torah portions that would never otherwise be read together. Today we contemplated Bereishit, the first parasha in the Torah, with Acharei Mot-Kedoshim, today’s double Torah portion which, as Jane taught us, is at the very center of the Torah. This creates for fascinating possibilities of analysis.
Abbie and Benny, beautiful and important Torah.
Benny, I think you’re right. A few days ago the Park Slope Patch reported that a full fifty percent of this neighborhood is at least partially vaccinated. CBE now has a reopening task force making plans for how and when and with what precautions we will reopen services and programs to members in person. We’re all pretty eager to do the things we couldn’t do for the last thirteen months.
Mouna, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with us this morning. You took on important themes including your thoughts on God, and the flexibility and ongoing evolution inherent in Judaism. As you have heard, our 5th graders are here today, they are just beginning their journey towards B’nei Mitzvah and as part of that journey they are going to receive their Chumash, or Torah book in just a few moments. I am so glad that they specifically heard both what you had to say, and how you built your remarks, incorporating Torah study and commentary, Jewish history, and your own experiences and ideas.
This Shabbat, this seventh day of Pesach, we read from Parashat Beshallach in the Book of Exodus. We read of our people’s departure from Egypt, the pursuit of Pharaoh and his many chariots, the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, and the triumphant Song of the Sea once we’ve crossed to the other side.
Cleaning Out the Chametz in Our Houses and Ourselves
Sometimes, the Jewish calendar aligns perfectly with the natural cycles of life. Like in the winter, how our Chanukah candles bring light to the darkest days of the year. And we celebrate Sukkot, the harvest holiday, when the farmers’ market is full of fall produce.
Today is Shabbat HaGadol, the Great Shabbat, the Shabbat before Passover. This is the Shabbat when historically our people would settle in to services because it was the longest sermon of the year, all about how to halakhically prepare your home for Passover. That is not what we’re talking about today. Instead, we’re talking about Light and we’re talking about Shame.