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A quick Google search brings up dozens of books entitled “The Calling.” Do all these authors lack sufficient imagination to come up with a creative name for their books? Do they simply recycle a hackneyed title? Probably not.
Over the past two weeks, in sermons and here, I have reflected on the pandemic. Topics have included Jewish ethical thinking around vaccinations, and the meaning of this year of shut down. Next week, we will mark a year of being shut down with a ritual gathering. Simultaneously, on Passover we will welcome back small groups of congregants via a sign-up process for services for the first time since the world closed.
This past Shabbat, I shared some Jewish perspectives on vaccine cheating, and addressed why doing so is not a victimless crime. Numerous people reached out to me if I could make those remarks available. What follows is a truncated version of that sermon.
Chinese New Year. Mardi Gras. Halloween. Carnival. Masquerade. So many cultures have holidays or celebrations in which costumes feature. Right off the bat, this reminds us that not only small children like to play dress up. There’s some sort of need that many of us have to shake things up and embrace a different persona.
There’s a joke that says the best of rabbis only give three sermons, while the rest of us have only one sermon that we give over and over. Most humor contains at least a grain of truth, and this is no exception. It’s not just rabbis. People tend to have certain commitments which help them organize the world quickly with a minimal amount of mental energy.
Anger. Frustration. Anxiety. Resentment. As some people begin to get their inoculations, other people who are in a higher risk group or otherwise eligible are feeling frustrated that they can’t find a place to get the vaccine. Signing up is primarily done by computer, and not all of our older neighbors have computer access or feel comfortable navigating the sites. That’s pretty frustrating.
The three rules of real estate, goes the old saw, are location, location, location. In many ways, location in the Bible provides necessary context to understand what a particular narrative is trying to communicate. Unfortunately, because we only read the Torah, we don’t always have a mental picture of where a particular episode occurs.