- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On August 4, 2017
- 0 Comments
How is it possible to be carried into exile, forced out of one’s home and life, and yet discover that within the darkness shines a light of possibility?
This is the history of the Jewish people. The expulsion and destruction of the Jewish inhabitants of Jerusalem and her environs by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.E., and then again by the Romans in 70 C.E. brought horrendous anguish and despondency. It might have appeared that all was lost; that Judaism and the Jewish people would be a footnote in history.
We know this did not happen. From deep moments of despair, creativity and opportunity have blossomed. Babylonia became a diaspora center for Jewish activity and scholarship, out of which ultimately came one version of the Talmud. Centuries later, the Roman Empire would try to extinguish and smother Jewish life. With the Temple destroyed and the sacrificial system with it, we turned our offerings into prayer and thus, transformed worship and ritual life.
The Hebrew word for exile is galut, . It means to emigrate, depart, be deported, be banished and certainly without joy. The Hebrew root, galah, , forms many versions of this word. It can also mean to discover, to make known, to reveal. How does exile and discovery connect? Through hope.
This week we read the words of the prophet, Isaiah, at the time of the Babylonian captivity that ignited a spark of hope to the forlorn exiles.
Comfort, oh comfort My people,
These prescient words arrive at a time when many peoples, immigrants and exiles, might find comfort in hope. Vulnerable populations forced into exile blanket the globe whether in Syria subject to more than one heinous regime, across the continent of Africa suffering through famine or in multiple countries whose leaders are focused on their own advancement instead of their citizens. Unfortunately, we don’t need to leave the borders of our own country to know that there are too many who are vulnerable here.
Though hope can’t guarantee a home or put food on the table or ensure safety and wellbeing, it might uncover a tenacious spirit, reveal a newfound strength or discover courage thought to be lost.
As Shabbat descends, we can hope that hope itself will bring the light of possibility and goodness to those who need it, including ourselves, strengthened by acts of justice and righteousness.
Qabbalat Shabbat is OUTSIDE at 6:00 p.m. Live stream HERE. Torah Study begins at 9:00 a.m. with a short service followed by a lively discussion. Thank Goodness It’s Shabbat starts at 10:00 a.m. Do you think hope is a factor for change? Connect with me HERE.