- Posted by Elaine Zecher
- On September 2, 2016
- 0 Comments
Welcome again to Shabbat Awakenings, a weekly reflection as we move toward Shabbat.
This week is about the possibility of transformation. We are in the third week of reading the prophet, Isaiah, as part of the cycle of counting seven weeks toward Rosh Hashanah starting after Tisha B’Av. The theme of comfort continues. With the Jewish people still in exile, Isaiah reaches out to them where they are. Consolation comes in the form of naming their distress, “Unhappy, storm-tossed one, uncomforted.” (Isaiah 54:11)
Uncomforted. Nuchama. The word is in a passive verb form. It is the ultimate lament of emptiness, powerlessness, and a disoriented existence.
But it is not hopeless. There will be a future. He says, “And all your children shall be disciples of the Eternal and great shall be the happiness of your children.” (54:13) In these words, Isaiah draws out the prospect that the next generation will return to the land. They will be, as the Midrash teaches, guarantors and rebuilders.
The prophet then says, “You shall be established through righteousness.” Their own behavior of justice will designate a path forward. They are the fulcrum to their own transformation.
They are not there yet and neither are we.
We live in the “best of times and the worst of times.” It is a tension we live with every day. Abundance resides next to scarcity on our own streets and certainly across the oceans. There are too many unhappy, storm tossed souls. Uncomforted. For them and for us.
Sometimes, we need to enter Shabbat not always as a sanctuary away from the world, but rather as a sacred gathering to encounter and to contemplate our place in the world. From there, may we find a path toward peace and righteousness for us and for the storm tossed sea of humanity seeking comfort as well.
If you are in town, come celebrate Shabbat together and join us for Qabbalat Shabbat INSIDE with plenty of singing, learning, praying and thinking.
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.