- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On December 29, 2017
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
Every year around this time, people say, “Happy New Year” and I catch myself from saying, “Shanah Tovah” in return. “Happy New Year” and “Shanah Tovah” are worlds apart. This week’s Torah portion drives this lesson home.
We reach the end of Genesis and specifically the close of the Joseph narrative. Beginning with a haughty Joseph being sold into slavery by his overly jealous brothers, the story takes us down to Egypt where Joseph not only becomes second in command to Pharaoh but he also reinterprets his own life. As Joseph understood it, his brothers were only playing out their role in God’s ultimate plan of getting Joseph to Egypt.
What purpose could this have in the larger scheme of what God knows and we do not?
There was a reason. Joseph’s presence in Egypt and his powerful position could pave the way to bring his entire family there where they would prosper and multiply. Though we know what ultimately happens, at this point in the narrative, we are precariously perched in one of the many penultimate moments in the close of yet another chapter in the history of our people. This week, we are prosperous; next week when we open the book of Exodus, we will be slaves. The story of our people takes us on a tumultuous ride through history. We also know redemption through the Sea of Reeds and then onto Mt. Sinai for revelation await us. As slaves, we will be regarded not just as a family or the children of Jacob/Israel but as an Am, a nation, one that will give birth to peoplehood, covenant, and Torah. One chapter closes and another one begins. And each year, we retell the story reminding ourselves we are but one link in the perpetual repetition of a fabulous drama, filled with hope of what might be possible.
Our Torah portion reminds us that to see the world through Jewish eyes, 2017 is just another year, terrifying and terrific in so many ways just as 2018 will be as well. Let us also remember, when it comes to history, as Jews, we are in it for the long haul. 5778 and counting.
So, go ahead and say Happy New Year, Happy secular New Year, but let’s save Shanah Tovah for when we place ourselves in a purposeful and impactful narrative of eternity where hope and faith continue to blossom.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year!
We join together tonight at 6 p.m. We will be wishing our Cantor a wonderful and well deserved Sabbatical for the next two months. Live stream HERE.
Torah Study begins at 9 a.m. with a short service and Torah reading followed by a lively discussion.
I look forward to knowing your reflections and comments. Connect with me directly and confidentially HERE.