- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On July 29, 2016
- 0 Comments
Welcome again to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
Each moment in history has its significance. I am moved by this moment in time. During these past two weeks norms have been shattered in all directions and different opinions have been aired. Wherever we may find ourselves and however we may feel—and there are differences—our democracy has brought us into a new era. I rejoice for our country and for what may be possible.
As we look to the future, our tradition reminds us to keep an eye on the past, too. There are many lessons there. Long ago, in the ancient land of Israel, there was a prophet named Jeremiah. He lived in a tumultuous time as Babylonia gained strength and inched closer to overtaking the land. As most prophets experienced, God summoned him and though he demurred, ultimately, he took on his role as a mouthpiece for God.
This is not an easy job description. No prophet applies for this career, not even Moses.
One is summoned and with Jeremiah, he was told: “To uproot and to pull down…To build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:10) He would need to challenge the people regarding their ways, their moral fortitude and their divergence from sacred living. He would call their attention, as prophets do, to examine their lives and to turn back toward God, the ultimate act of Teshuvah. In order to have the courage to persevere, God tells him: “I will make you this day [like] a fortified city, and an iron pillar, and bronze walls…” all images that garner strength. He would need it. Jeremiah was not well received. He had to watch as Babylonia eventually by 586 BCE, sent his people into exile to be made strangers in a strange land. Even so, within the despair, he garnered hope instructing the people that while they were in exile to build houses, plant gardens, and even seek the welfare of the city. (29:4-7) God would eventually bring them back.
In every era when there is “uprooting and pulling down, building and planting” are also possible. To persevere, we need to be like the steadfastness of that image of a fortified city or an iron pillar.
Each moment in history has its significance. From this Shabbat until Rosh Hashanah, we count 3 plus 7 weeks. The Jewish calendar views the next three weeks as a time of mourning and will culminate with Tisha B’Av which begins this year on the eve of August 13 and commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then we begin our ascension with comfort and hope as we count seven weeks toward the Jewish New Year with the renewal and new possibilities it brings us.
The seeds of Teshuvah have been planted and hope can be harvested. Though we certainly do not live in the same circumstances as Jeremiah did, the counting begins toward a magnificent opportunity in the cycle of the year with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We can already begin to prepare by starting to challenge ourselves to examine our ways, our behaviors, and our moral fortitude.
Shabbat helps us with that introspection. May this Shabbat allow us this moment in time to look within and find that strength to carry us forward in our own exploration and examination so that we might begin to uncover our best self.
If you are in town, come celebrate Shabbat together and join us for Qabbalat Shabbat INSIDE with plenty of singing, learning, praying, thinking, and cool air.
Please feel free to connect with me here. I would be honored to learn of your own reflections and response. I’m grateful to the many people who have already shared their thoughts with me in this way.