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A D'Var Torah from Rabbi Josh Hearshen

08/06/2020 05:15:29 PM

Aug6

Rabbi Hearshen

Today, the day that I am writing these words, is the 15th of the month of Av. That means that we have 45 days until the holidays arrive. The holidays will arrive no matter what happens. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur cannot be moved to a more convenient time when we are not enduring such difficult times like right now. This is because the one constant that is always true is that the earth will rotate on its axis and it will circle around the sun at the same time. In other words, time goes on no matter what we do. As Jews, we are always aware of time as it is innately Jewish. Remember that Shabbat is truly a celebration of time. So now is the time of the year when we begin to plan and get ready for the holidays. We begin menu planning. We begin reflecting. We begin planning services. We begin looking for ways that we can change and do better. While it is clear that the holidays this year are going to be distinctly different from anything that we have done in the past, it is important that each of us work to make them happen. That we each begin the hard work to get ready for the holidays and to celebrate them in all of their glory regardless of how they look. The basic rule will always be that we will only get out of life that which we put into it. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will be everything that each of us gives to them.

This week we are reading the words of עקב which we translate in this context as being to heed the commandments. But there is much more to all of this. The word should cause all of us to jump back to the first book of the Torah, Bereshit or Genesis, and to one of the main characters: יעקב (Jacob). I hope you see why that is the case. His name, when written in Hebrew, shares that same word. It is the same thing. But Jacob did not die a Jacob, he died known as Israel which name he was given after having struggled with an angel and surviving. I would like us to all internalize that at this moment. We feel beaten down and exhausted. We feel tired of COVID-19 and all that has come with it. But we will get through this together. We will get past this moment. We will move forward and we will be strong. The reality is that this struggle, unlike the struggle of Jacob, is not an individual one. We are all working and we all need to continue to fight together. If we all continue to work at wearing masks and washing our hands, if we all continue to resist the temptations to end social distancing, if we all continue to do everything that we have been asked to do by the experts then we will get through this and we will be stronger. We will have survived the struggle with beings, both human and Divine, and, , like Jacob, we will have come out on the other side. As the congregation of Light and Peace let us work together from a distance to do just that. To be a light and to bring peace to the world. 

Shabbat Shalom.

Wed, October 28 2020 10 Cheshvan 5781