Earlier this week, a parent contacted me. The person’s children wanted to know if it was still safe to go to synagogue. It’s heartbreaking and understandable that people would be worried after last week’s hostage situation at Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. Watching events unfold in real-time brought up many different emotions. Horror, outrage, fear, sadness, or even numb resignation. Few of us felt all these emotions, but most of us experienced at least one.
Is it worth swearing or promising if there’s a chance you can’t keep that promise? Parshat Yitro, among its many famous lessons, teaches that there is only one person responsible for making the changes we want to see in ourselves.
As I see it, there are two primary types of inclusion. One is a basic requirement of a democracy and is fundamental to the national identity. The other form of inclusion furthers a specific mission. Both types of inclusion can be valuable, but since they have different goals, it is important to distinguish between the two.
Staying cool in the face of any situation is made that much harder when things are out of your control, and there's nothing you can really do to change it. When we’re too emotionally charged, sometimes taking a breath and trusting in the process gets you across the gaping sea and onto safe, dry land much faster.
I want to notify you that I will be taking a sabbatical from February through April. We all know that this pandemic has made it difficult to make plans or travel arrangements, and for quite a long time, it was unclear to me how I could take a break or what options would even be available during this “new normal.” At the encouragement of our capable lay leadership, we mutually decided to break up my sabbatical over two years. This decision has led to a quick turn around in scheduling.
There’s a game most of us play. When we are going through a difficult patch, we tell ourselves “It will be better when this happens,” or “It will be better next week, month, year…” At first blush, this might seem an optimistic way to think about the demands of our lives. Rather than allowing ourselves to imagine that the present difficult moment defines us, we look forward to a better future.
Sometimes lamb is just lamb, and sometimes soup is just soup. Other times, so much more. Reading Parshat Bo offers a yearly reminder that food is one way to understand a culture, and sitting and eating together can be just as filling spiritually as it is satiating.