- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On July 28, 2017
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
The Jewish calendar has reached its lowest point this week. Before we come around the bend and head toward the High Holy Days, the calendar comes to a screeching halt. It is this time of year, when the heat and humidity drain us, that we recall the destruction of the Temple that stood in Jerusalem.
On Monday night, we mark Tisha B’Av. It is a time of lamentation, a sorrowful reminder of deep darkness. The sacred place was on fire with rebuke and admonition. The focused site may have been the ancient Temple in Jerusalem where Babylonia or centuries later, Rome, wrecked havoc, leaving death and misery in their wake, but the heat of that moment seems to continue to smolder even up to our own time.
Earlier this week, I was in Jerusalem, honored and grateful to be invited by JCRC to join with Boston area Christian clergy to tour Israel together. Parts of the city felt as if it was on fire with anger. Protests, demonstrations, and violent behavior took place in various areas. There were clashes and fatalities. We could not visit Bethlehem for safety reasons. We obliged. Elsewhere we felt safe, even visiting the Western Wall called the Kotel in the midst of it all. As our group of Christian clergy shared a Shabbat evening meal together, feeling secure in West Jerusalem, we couldn’t have imagined that north of Ramallah, a family gathered around its Shabbat table in the West Bank, only to have it end with devastatingly vicious violence and premeditated murder.
And yet, despite the depth of despair for all the peoples who call this land their home, hope remains. I marvel at it. Islands of good, righteous, and just behaviors still continue to spring up. When I think of the politics or the exchange of vitriol or the inability for so many among Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims, and Christians to find common ground, I recall the kind, thoughtful, intentional and brave activists carving paths out of these low, dark places to search for a better way.
This Shabbat, we read the prophet, Isaiah, who rebuked the people for their thoughtless behaviors. Even so, he provided recommendations for improvement:
Wash yourselves clean;
Put away your evil doings
Away from My sight.
Cease to do evil;
Learn to do good.
Devote yourselves to justice;
Aid the wronged.
Uphold the rights of the orphan;
Defend the cause of the widow.
And then what he says has great significance for our day:
Come, let us reach an understanding.
(Isaiah 1: 16-18)
The heat of history maintains the anger, but how it is responded to makes the difference.
Come, let us reach an understanding!
The important words of the prophet still call to us here in the US and certainly in the land of Israel as well.
Qabbalat Shabbat is OUTSIDE tonight at 6 p.m. in the garden. Live stream HERE. Go to the end of Nessel way and enter through the wooden gate. Torah study begins at 9 a.m. ShabBIKE Shalom will meet at TI at 8:45 which includes a beautiful ride, a stop for lunch, and some Torah learning. The Riverway Project ends Shabbat in Brookline with a sold-out wine tasting and Havdalah!
Connect with me HERE. I’m grateful for your comments and reflections.