Toldot: Enough deceit

deceit word cloudThere is a tremendous amount of deceit in this week’s parasha, Toldot. The familiar story is that Esau’s birthright is taken out from under him by his brother Jacob, when Esau was most vulnerable, hungry, exhausted.  Then, when their father Isaac was old, going blind, ready to die, and ready to give his sons their blessings, Jacob impersonated his brother and stole the blessing of the first born for himself. This was done at the urging of his mother, Rebecca.

There is scarcely a more heartbreaking line in Torah than “And Esau said to his father, ‘Have you but one blessing, Father? Bless me too, Father!’ And Esau wept aloud.”

But I have chosen to focus on another part of the Torah portion, because the issue of deceit and the repercussions of deceit are weighing heavily.  Isaac marries Rebecca, and the couple quickly finds out they’re infertile. Isaac prays to God to relieve his wife’s barrenness, and she does become pregnant with twins, who struggle within her. Esau is born first, Jacob “on his heels” (Esau comes from the word for “heel”) The boys couldn’t be more different, and I would imagine the family dynamic gets pretty stressful, especially since each parent has chosen a favorite son.

After the birthright drama, the narrative moves to a famine in the land (cue the doom-music), Isaac meets up with King Abimelech of the Philistines, and more deceit enters the story. Isaac pretends that Rebecca is his sister (like his father did with his mother), and just like his parents’ story, Isaac comes out ahead with his wealth when the deceit is discovered.  But then, Abimelech says, “Go away from us, for you have become far too big for us.” (Gen 26:16)

More underscoring, foreshadowing to when Pharaoh says that the Israelites have become too many, they’re a threat (Ex 1:9). To our Genesis verse, the commentator Sforno (16th c, Italy) says Abimelech is worried that would be able to stage a rebellion.

Deceit within a family. Deceit in the face of power.  Fear. Fear-mongering. Threatened by an entire group of people? Throw them out.

There is no escaping the relationship of this sentiment to what’s in our headlines today about immigration. These are people to be feared, says the administration. They are a threat. They are an invasion. There are too many of them, and they are headed our way. They are lying, their purpose in coming here is not peaceful, but rather, to “stage a rebellion.”

It doesn’t end well for the people who espouse this thinking in the Torah. Look what happened to Pharaoh, and the other kings that told the Israelites to move along, you’re not wanted here. You’d think we’d have learned. Maybe that’s why the insistence on welcoming the stranger is so strong in Torah.

Let’s take this week’s parasha, this week’s drama about fearing the “other” and put it to good use. The mid-terms may be over, but there is still work to do. Say no to the fear-mongering, say yes to the lawful welcoming of those in need. The tent is wide enough, surely.

 

 

 

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Vayera: I see you

This week has been particularly difficult, and I am buoyed by the care and consideration, support of all kinds that I’ve received. I also received the d’var Torah from my sister, Rabbi Jan Salzman, of Ruach HaMaqom of Burlington VT. I’m sharing it with you; not only is it beautiful, but it comes at a time when I couldn’t find words myself. I am doubly blessed.  Without knowing it, she saw me. Enjoy. (…and follow her, to read more of her insights, even if you’re not in Burlington!)

Vayera
Gen. 18:1-22:24

Our parasha is packed with an ever increasing complexity to this thing called Creation.  We have angels appearing to Abraham in order to deliver a prophecy to Sarah, who will birth a child by the next year; there is the [in]famous scene at Mount Moriah, as Abraham is interrupted in his willingness to offer his son, Isaac; there is the iconic negotiation between GD and Abraham over the fate of Sodom and Gomorra.  Oh, and there’s the little matter of Lot offering his virgin daughters to a mob that wants to rape his [angel] visitors because they are strangers in their town.

Breathless yet? How can we discern a singular point on which to land? One tangent is the play around the word, to see.  It is repeated 3 times in the first 2 verses: GD appeared; Abraham looked up; Abraham saw [the angels] approaching; Mount Moriah is also from the same verb, translated as ‘the mountain of vision’. So there’s something deep in this thing called Creation around the act of seeing. “And GD saw that it was good…”

What is it, to see? To apprehend, to notice, yet not in a passive way. The only helpful way to see is to engage with. I can note you; or I can see you, witness you, be curious about what I see and what I might be projecting onto you that clouds my vision. Today, we are being called  to see and be seen, erasing an inclination to look away, once you have encountered.

Abraham is sitting under the tree of Mamre (a word that is a form of ‘to speak’) and he sees 3 humans approaching. Running out into the heat of the day, he invites them into the cool of the shade of a tree and runs (there’s a lot of running in this scene) to prepare food and drink for them.

A Hasidic teaching offers the following riff on this scene: Pay no attention to the garments. Look to see what is underneath the tree…and, more, The Zohar teaches that one who has eyes looks at the inner nature of things; one who lacks such eyes sees only the [outer] garments (Zohar 3: 152:a)

From this that we can derive a deep meaning.  Abraham was not distracted by the physical form. Rather, he had the ability to apprehend the inward meaning of that which he was presented. He invites his guest to sit ‘under’ (tachat) the tree, a word in Hebrew that can mean under, within, amongst. We are invited to look deeply past the physical and into theikar/essence, of the moment.

It is increasingly challenging to resist being swept away by the world that presents itself to us. Yet we are obligated by our tradition to look beneath the surface and discern the spark of light within the swirling.  It is from that light that can bring hope to what might be filled with despair. “Do not get caught up in the externals.  There is always something deeper to be found.”
(Rabbi Art Green).

Eyes wide open
Heart also
I run out into the world
Ready to care for the traveler
And bring water to the thirsty
And coolness to the heat.

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Lech l’cha: If/Then

what if“God said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your native land and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation. And I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse him that curses you ; and all the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you.”  (Gen 12:1-3)

What is enough to make you get up and go into the unknown? Would that be enough for you? Wouldn’t you talk it over with someone, or at least mull it over yourself? What does it mean that my name would be great – there’s a big chasm between famous and infamous. What does it mean that people who curse, or maybe even dislike me will be cursed?

Again, are those promises enough to make you sure about that next big move?

I’m sure we can all think back to when we made big leaps of faith – literally – big moves without a whole lot to go on. Maybe it was going off to school, or getting married, or taking a new job. Some people (like me) spend a lot of time with the pros and cons, making lists, getting advice, thinking and thinking, and I’m still never sure.

There was a musical made a few years ago called, “If/Then.” I loved it because it was as if the writers were inside my brain. What if I make this choice? What if I make the other one? My dad used to call me the “What if kid”; clearly, this was a pattern! In the musical, we see how the same person, at different points in her life, made decisions and we see how these two parallel lives played out. Which path was her authentic life?

Beth/Elizabeth sings, “See, each choice you make is a kind of a loss/Each turn you take and each coin that you toss/You lose all the choices you don’t get to make/you wonder about all the turns you don’t take.” Each choice is a loss for what wasn’t, each step along a path takes you away.

Abram had the assurance of a God he never saw, only had the voice. The Voice didn’t say all will be well, life would be easy. It said Abram would be in/famous, and that there will be those who follow him. There would be a future for his family. There would be protection from beyond. There would be those who praise and those who curse, and God/the Voice would be able to handle it either way.

Would that be enough for you to go and leave everything you knew? Have you ever been Abram, the one who goes forth into unknown?

 

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Noah: Building a relationship, not just an ark

NoachRelationships are hard at the beginning. Getting to know each other, finding out each other’s faults and strengths. Yes indeed, relationships are hard in the beginning, like the one between humanity and God.

The story of Noah is at one level, a story of God and humanity getting to know each other better. As they do, they have to keep adjusting. People make choices that God doesn’t like (as in Eden with Adam and Eve) and God has to figure out what to do with this crazy creature. “The earth became corrupt before God” (Gen 6:11) Much like in Eden, it involved nudity, or at least, that’s what Rashi thought; he said the corruption was not just merely sexual immorality, but also idolatry, that is…boundaries were crossed.

Then again, the people really haven’t gotten any users’ manual for the world yet. God didn’t think they needed one, perhaps? In any case, how would they have known where the boundaries were? Did God forget to cover that detail?  Was this another learning opportunity in the relationship? Did God have to think more deeply about what hadn’t been communicated? With interest in making this work,  God decides to start all over again.

God tells Noah what to do and why, “”I am about to destroy them [humanity] with the earth. Make yourself an ark…” (Gen 6:13-14) The rains began.

In Chapter 8, two important moments occur. First, the idea of memory – God’s memory – is presented for the first time. “And when the waters had swelled on the earth one hundred and fifty days, God remembered Noah…” (Gen 8:1) Does that mean God had forgotten? Or perhaps God “remembers” the way we “remember the Sabbath”, that we honor and keep it close. God remembered humans and what that relationship meant to God. God has an “aha moment”, “Never again will I doom the earth because of man… nor will I ever again destroy every living being, as I have done.” (Gen 8:21)  If people can control their impulses, God can too. If people can strive to find the good in the world, God can strive to find the good in people. God has developed some Self-awareness, which is a crucial element to succeeding at a relationship.

We have to be able to look at ourselves, so we can look at ourselves in relation to another. God’s promise not to upset the chess board and start over isn’t complete – God still needs Sodom and  Gemorah to take another step away from the impulsiveness of destruction. But relationships are built step by step, even the one…no, perhaps especially the one between us and God.

 

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Bereshit: To start with….

It’s been an odd holiday season, I think. For a time that is supposed to be quite self-reflective, focusing on ourselves, our lives, our intentions for the coming year, our actions from the past year, a lot of us have been focused on what’s outside of us. We’ve been listening to the news, emailing and calling our representatives, connecting with others who understand our feelings and concerns, even reaching out to others who don’t agree with us, to better understand why they think as they do.

It’s in this context that we begin again with Bereshit, Genesis 1:1….When God began to create the heavens and the earth….

Did you notice that the Torah begins with something that God does, not who God is? One could ask what God was doing before this moment, but it is the essence of Torah that the first encounter with the Divine One, God’s “introduction” to us, is not about how great God is, but rather, what God does.

The first word gives us a time context (B’reshit), the second word gives us action (bara…created), a verb. I often describe Judaism to my classes as a verb – Jewish life is less about what you believe in, and more about how you act. Verbs are how Jews live – we do, bless, separate, define, distinguish, offer up, etc. We do. And Bereshit tells us why. Even God isn’t defined by who, but rather what God does, right from the start.

God creates. The commentators disagree as to whether or not God creates out of nothing, or out of something. After all, the text says there was already light (the sun wasn’t created until the fourth day, so what light shone before that?) that there was chaos on earth (which was already there, apparently) and it was unformed and void. Perhaps God didn’t create so much as organize. Perhaps the act of creation is really the act of responding to what is already there, and making it workable, usable, do-able, useful.

We talk about creativity, admiring it in others. But those who create music, art, dance, theater, literature…they’re really taking what is already there in the form of colors, words, movement, notes, and bring those materials into an order that is new. The genius of the artist is what they do with the materials at hand.

I’ve just closed my most recent show, Man of La Mancha. I didn’t really get that show before I was immersed in it. Quixote knows he may not succeed, but he knows he has to try. He has to bring gallantry and decency into his life and deeds, and bring others along if he can. He can’t let the darkness win, no matter what it costs. He strives though it’s impossible, and by doing so, he brings hope and vision to others who couldn’t see it before.

God took the materials at hand and made them better. We should do no less, looking around at the world we have, and make it better. Always strive to make it better, though we each are just one person. The whole universe was created for one person. Always DO, instead of sitting back and letting someone else do it. Yes, Shabbat may be our break from the DOING, but God modeled that behavior, too. Our world is tohu v’vohu, it’s chaotic. It’s our job now to right what’s wrong.

 

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Yom Kippur: Basketball, 12 steps, and more

This week’s posting was written by my sister Batya Salzman Levy,  a deep thinker and terrific writer. Can’t read it all now? Print it out and read it slowly, carefully, on Yom Kippur. Wishing you all an easy fast, a gmar chatima tovah, as I express eternal love and gratitude for my little sister.

Years ago, my son’s 7th grade Bible teacher, well-loved by her secular, Israeli public school class, was asked, “Why do we have Yom Kippur?”  Her answer: “So we can suffer.” End of story.

I was appalled.  Her answer was the antithesis of everything I think about Yom Kippur, yet I couldn’t (and still can’t) get this idea across to my Israeli, secular, or even religious acquaintances.  So I’ll try to finally put it down here, and hopefully, at least I won’t feel like I can’t explain myself.

Yom Kippur is NOT about suffering. But first, a bit about basketball, 12-step programs, and embarrassment.

To play basketball, you need to fully accept one rule: when you make a foul, you must raise your hand.  You absolutely have to agree to this, in order to play the game. When you make a mistake, step over a line, push another player, etc, you must raise your hand and identify yourself as the offender.  “Yeah, that was me.” If you don’t, your fellow players won’t trust you, the officials won’t trust you, and any good team simply won’t let you play with them. If you want to play the game, you have to not only admit to yourself that you screwed up, you must take public responsibility for it, right away, that very second, there on the court, in the middle of the game and loud enough for everyone to hear.

Judaism, and many belief systems and spiritual traditions, are very clear on one point: that the fouls that matter are discernable within three separate but interwoven relationships: between you and yourself, you and others, and you and, ok, let’s say the Divine/Universe. Three separate but complementary relationships, areas within which and between which we have ample room to screw up.  Three “teams”, if you will. The Cosmos and me, you and me, and the me/us in the mirror.

And here’s where raising your hand at your own foul gets really, really hard.  Looking under the inner-soul rocks, down where it’s sticky and dark, in an often most uncomfortable way, will ye or nil ye, until we see what’s hiding there.  For me, sometimes this is my foul, as I demand that others be as brutally honest as I try to be. More often than not, however, it’s what gets me through the really hard patches.  Telling the brutal truth to myself about being sneaky or mean or stubborn allows me to see how others experience my fouls, and it tempers me. It forces me off of the me-only team, and shoves me onto the me-you team.  Usually it’s more brutal for me than for you, believe me. It forces me to consider how my own fouls affect those outside of myself. I’ll get back to what basketball and fouls have to do with Yom Kippur. Bear with me.

Anyone familiar with 12-step programs knows that the reasoning behind them is to be brutally honest (there it is again) about yourself before you can mend, or heal, or deal with an addiction.  It’s fair to say that we not only can be addicted to our own behaviors; most of us are, whether we know and/or admit it or not.  We are addicted to our anger, our bitterness, our superiority, our sense of who we are. At this point, it’s not important whether or not you believe in the God/higher power/Supreme Being, etc. of these programs.  The process of self-knowledge is the point here.

Step #4 is about as close to Yom Kippur as you can get:  “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself.”  This is not step 11, or 12. This is right after you accept that you have a problem. Right up there in the beginning, way before you can even think about healing.  For Yom Kippur, we could say that this is right after we accept that we’re human, with human failings. Not a problem or addiction exactly, but you get the idea.

But that inventory to and about yourself is only the first hurdle.  Right away, Number 5 keeps going: “Admit to God (or the inescapable, all-knowing eye of the Cosmos), to yourself, and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs”.  There are those three relationships, right there.

Admit to yourself the exact nature of your wrongs. Let’s look at the you-and-me team, first, because oddly enough, it’s actually the easiest to describe.   I’ve gossiped. I’ve lost my temper with you. I’ve been impatient. I’ve thought ugly things about others. I acted stubbornly, childishly, selfishly, disrespectfully.  There were times when I was mean, petty, and yes, stupid. I cheated, or lied, or took what I had no right to take. Not always, not perhaps even often, but over the past year it happened and, yes, that was me.  Brutal honesty (read: self-knowledge) absolutely compels me to raise my hand and admit it.

And that brings us to #9, the real kicker: “Make direct amends to [those I’ve harmed] wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”   So, it’s not enough to quietly say to ourselves, yes, my foul, that was me. No, we have to physically go to that person, wherever possible, and stammer out an acknowledgement of our own bad behavior to their faces, and make a meaningful apology.

Isn’t that what we demand of the little ones?  Drag that six year old over to the other kid and solemnly insist they apologize to the other’s face? And if we sense any insincerity, we give the evil eye, adding “and mean it, this time!” We are not trying to shame or humiliate the child – we are simply (hah!) insisting that he follow the rules on life’s court. Acknowledge the foul, look the injured party in the eye, take responsibility, and show remorse.  In other words, Yom Kippur. The question is, can we be our own parent, and demand it of ourselves? And mean it this time?

The Universe-and-me team has its own list, and it’s often harder to discern these fouls, but make no mistake, once you look, they’re right there, staring back at you.  Maybe it’s pouring that motor oil down the sink, because it was too much trouble to take it to the recycling place. Maybe it was jeering someone else’s faith. Maybe it was scoffing at fate, taking one more unbelievably stupid chance and assuming your number would never come up.  Admit it, you’ve thumbed your nose at the Universe,/God/Supreme Being/whatever. We usually do this by placing ourselves outside of Creation, outside of the Universe, outside of the spiritual condition. When we look with trepidation at ourselves here, it’s quite a kick in the existential pants to realize humbly that yes, indeed, we were foolish and careless with the Universe and its wonders. We arrogantly placed ourselves outside of and separate from Creation.  Raise your hands and repeat, “Yeah, that was me.”

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said that Yom Kippur is about cultivating a sense of embarrassment.  Again, not shame, humiliation, or even suffering.  It’s about that same “you should be ashamed of yourself” parental admonition, that sense that our behavior was something to be ashamed of or embarrassed by.  The idea is not to beat ourselves up through self-loathing, but to bring ourselves to a place where we recognize that what we did/said/thought, etc. was less than the best we could be. A stumble.  A behavioral fart, you could say. A momentary loss of control which resulted in a bad smell in the universe, and yeah, that was me. This requires a strong enough sense of self awareness, so that however mortifying it may be at the moment, honestly admitting our foibles and faux pas to ourselves and others is ultimately more freeing.  Why? Because the little lies we tell ourselves and others (“It wasn’t me”, “I didn’t know”) have the power to be self-fulfilling, and have the creeping ability to have power over us, even when we think we’re in control. Leavened with judicious compassion, the truth – however momentarily brutal – really will set you free.

The self-honesty, the litany of our own bad behavior, the too-truthful mirror we look into, seeing ourselves warts and all, is HARD.  The “fearless moral inventory” is usually a direct threat to who and what we think we are. Owning our weaknesses and moral shortcomings is one of the hardest things anyone can do, which is why so few of us do it.  Yom Kippur knows this. Yom Kippur repeats the words of fear and trepidation and the quivering sense of our inadequacies for hours. Some say it’s to make you feel small and miserable – I strongly disagree. I say it’s to force you to look in that mirror and prevent any face-saving squirming away from who you see there.  

By the way, this is why we fast.  Me personally, I have a little something here and there on Yom Kippur.  Fasting with no water in the hot Israeli still-summer for 24 hours makes me quite ill, nauseous, migraines, etc.  The goal is not to cause ourselves to suffer.  The reason we fast, as well as we can, is to strip away the slick excuses (“Can I go? It’s lunchtime”) that make it all too easy to skimp on the tasks.  We fast to remind ourselves – our meat selves – that some things are so hard to do, so soul-scary, that we need to make sure nothing gets in our way to skew our attention, to take our eyes off the prize.  We have to float up into the ether of the soul to do Yom Kippur, to truly exist on a different plane, and there can be no distractions, especially by our physical bodies.

There are, however, a few things that soften the task, and make it doable, for those who are brave of heart and mind.  One is that Yom Kippur is a group task. Alone, we would be too scared and lonely to do this incredibly difficult deed, and it would be too easy to dabble a bit and go, convincing ourselves that we’d done what was needful.  As a group, we can know that all of us are in the same place, literally. We can look around and see that we are (probably) no more or no less venal than the next guy, and that we can take comfort from the great equalizer of shared experience.  Also, being in a group for Yom Kippur’s tasks reminds us that sin (however you want to define the word) can be – and often is – a community responsibility. We can behave very, very badly as a group too, and the public moral inventory of our community is as difficult and harsh as that of our individual selves. Raising our collective hands, saying, “Yeah, that was US” is as potent as any other self -awareness.

Of course, not all bad behavior is equal.  Mistakes, stumbles, faux pas, etc, are inevitable and we really only need to say “ooops, sorry, my bad”.  Honestly mean it, and you’re good to go. It’s the deeper, more slippery stuff within us all that is so hard to come to terms with, and it’s oh so very hard to be brutally honest about it – with ourselves, with each other, with the karma-inducing comeuppance waiting just around the corner.

Over the last year, we have caused cracks in our selves, our relationships and our world.   Some of us have broken, some have shattered; others quietly limp along, protecting that sore, tender part that got twisted.  None of us, however, has gone through the last year unscathed. Sometimes what has done the damage is out of our control, and Yom Kippur is not for that.  Yom Kippur is for the damage WE have caused, to our selves, our community and our world. It’s so hard, so wrenching to admit our farts and fouls that we shy away and do our utmost to avoid such reckoning.  Yom Kippur, should we choose to accept it, makes us open the door to our soul, look unflinchingly at what we find, take responsibility for it, and then gives us a path out. Whether you believe or put faith in the “After all, God loves you” comforts, or whether you don’t, the process of self awareness and honesty is its own, mindful path of self-acceptance and self-forgiveness. These steps need to be taken before we can start healing the cracks and breaks that are inevitable in life.

Some people believe in and take comfort in the idea that they will be judged.  Others don’t. Doesn’t matter, really. What matters is that you walk the walk now.  It matters that you find the courage now to be brutally honest with yourself. It matters that even if you do it once a year, the ability and propensity for honesty accompanies you the rest of the time.  The key is intention, willingly putting yourself through Yom Kippur’s paces.

A game with no rules is easy.  One with moral parameters is much harder, but it sweetens the pot when you play it well. You like the liturgy and the congregation? Great. You hate it?  Ok. Take moral inventory anyway. Find the ones you need to speak to, say the words, and mean them. Find that inner mirror and respect it and yourself enough to be brutally honest about what you see there. Cultivate a sense of embarrassment, so when you step out of bounds, you know it, and it bothers you. Going through life never really looking at yourself means you’ll also never have, or need, the courage to redeem yourself, better yourself, in your own eyes and in the eyes of those who love you.  

Being inscribed in the Book of Life really means embracing who you truly are, and learning to forgive yourself anyway, living a well-examined life. You can only do this for yourself. Yom Kippur is not about judgment or damnation, not about shame or hating yourself, and most assuredly not about suffering.  It’s about courage and forgiveness and compassion and generosity with oneself and others. It’s about being mindful of the frailty of being human, and about finally embracing the fact that the cracks in our hearts are the only places where love can seep through.

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Shana Tovah – Happy New Year

5779Our trip around the sun has come full course, and here we are at the threshold again. Beginnings and endings. We’re ending the book of Deuteronomy, will be starting Genesis soon. We’re ending 5778, starting 5779.

As we get to the end of the year, we are swamped with preparations for the New Year – cooking, cleaning, reflecting, connecting. But there is actually a Torah portion this Shabbat, and it has some of my most favorite texts:  Surely this instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us, and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who among us can cross to the other side of the sea and get it for us and impart it to us, that we may observe it?” No, the thing is very close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, to observe it. (Deut 30:11-14)

I hope, if nothing else, as you read these Shabbat musings around the course of the year, you realize that Torah is not so far away, that it’s indeed close to you, in your mouth and heart. Its relevance is astounding some weeks. It takes tangling and wrangling, study and thought, but it’s not too hard, it’s not too distant. It’s right there for us all.

Think about that – no one is supposed to go to the heavens or across the seas and get the Torah for us. We don’t hand that over to someone else. It’s ours. It’s in our hands, in our eyes, our mouths and heart. We speak its truths when we speak out for the vulnerable in our communities. It’s in our hearts as we feel for the stranger in our midst. It’s in our minds as we turn our attention/intention to Shabbat in whatever way makes it holy and separate. It’s in our hands, as we work to make this a better world.

Next month, we begin Bereshit/Genesis again. We read the description of a new world created, new creatures, including the human. We are created with minds, heads, hearts, and mouths. As we read these familiar lines, remember back to these past few weeks, when Moses taught verse after verse about creating a just and righteous society.  Each day, with Torah in our mouths and hearts, we can re-create what Genesis describes.

I wish you all who read and share these thoughts a year of joy, health, triumph over challenges, acknowledgement of blessings, gatherings full of loving faces, bounty in the dishes, and sweet memories of those no longer at the table.

Shana Tovah, 5779.

 

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