- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On May 1, 2020
- 0 Comments
Welcome to Shabbat Awakenings, our weekly reflection as we make our way toward Shabbat. You can listen to it as a podcast HERE.
These days have seemed grayer than usual. I’d like to blame it all on the weather. But that is not possible. Too many are cloaked in sadness brought about by the isolation caused by this pandemic. So many suffer from the collateral crises of food insecurity, homelessness, job losses, loneliness and anxiety. Rose colored glasses have been replaced by gray ones. Diagnoses and deaths are piling up.
Powerlessness may seem to prevail, but it will not overtake us. Faith and Jewish tradition teach us that we are not powerless. Our Torah portion shows us how to rage against the powerlessness we may feel because it reinstates power through holiness. In Leviticus 19, we learn that holiness connects us to others by the way we regard and experience the humanity of another. It places power back within our hands and hearts.
Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, the LORD your God, am holy…When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field…, you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I the Eternal am your God. You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another… You shall not defraud your fellow. You shall not commit robbery….You shall not insult the deaf, or place a stumbling block before the blind…You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your kinsman fairly. Do not deal basely with your countrymen… You shall not hate your kinsfolk in your heart. Reprove your kinsman but incur no guilt because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your countrymen. Love your fellow as yourself: I am the Eternal. (Leviticus 19:2-18)
Albert Schweitzer, the great 20th century humanitarian, theologian, and Nobel Peace prize winner has been quoted with this idea:
“Sometimes our light goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being.”
The Torah understood that the spark begins within each of us with the intention that how we can help and protect another is what makes the difference. From the Torah’s perspective, the spark actually never goes out though it may be dormant for a time. It is in our power to release the divinity within each of us that lights up when we reach out to another. The ancients may not have known Zoom, FaceTime, the smartphone, or WebEx, but they, too, faced challenges and found strength and power through whatever way they could encounter one another.
These gray days are yet to turn brighter and warmer, but they surely will. It begins with the light planted within our souls and radiates out from there. Let us look forward to looking back on these days.