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As you may know, the Jewish concept of tzedakah comes from the root for “justice.” In other words, a just society is one in which we take care of one another. We recognize that each person has a purpose to fulfill and, even in a literal sense, something to give back.
It’s human nature to doubt ourselves and wonder how different our lives would be had we made different choices. It sounds impossible that we'd ever get to try out both scenarios, but interestingly, our Torah portion this week presents us with such an example.
Event organizers around the world have been facing the same dilemma for months: to cancel or to reschedule. Sadly, COVID-19 has delayed or canceled countless plans, which of course is expected if we’re going to try to lessen the toll it takes on human life. Interestingly, there’s a direct parallel in the Torah this week about postponing or extending things because of illness.
The Torah says Moses is not allowed to see God’s face. In fact, none of us are. But the description of God in this week's Torah portion as an almost Wizard-of-Oz-like hidden figure is striking. Perhaps it's a test of Moses's belief, or perhaps it's a reminder to us all that sometimes faith means believing without having all the answers.
These days, it can be confusing knowing which "hat" I'm supposed to wear when, since I’m doing most of my job as a rabbi from home. The lines have further blurred between work life and home life. When am I a rabbi? When am I a mommy?
For the entirety of our existence as a Jewish people, the Torah has imagined a world where we’re not stratified and strangulated based on income or job description. Imagine if every 50 years (or every 7 years) we reevaluated and took a serious look at where we’ve been, what we need to continue to thrive, and how we can help others to do the same.
The Talmudic reason we don't blow the shofar on Shabbat is because Shabbat is holy enough without it. And our memories are strong enough that we can recall things like the sound of the shofar, the sight of the Purim costumes, or the smell of kiddush lunch at shul, and it’s like we’re there.