Undoubtedly, both our sense of self and our “vision” are molded by the sights and sounds that we absorb from our surroundings.
Our Torah portion, Re’eh [which in Hebrew means: See…], acknowledges the power of what we see and what we hear to shape our lives, as it is written: “See, I have set before you the blessing and the curse. The blessing, if you listen to God’s commandments; the curse, if you don’t listen….” Our Torah portion is signaling to us that seeing and hearing are integral to the process of figuring out who we are as we go through the various stages of our lives and what makes our lives meaningful.
But, sometimes, as we grow and develop and learn to deal with our everyday lives, our “vision” tends to narrow. And, when all that we see and hear are the things that happen to us, individually, we lose touch with so much more that would help us to make greater sense of our existence.
And so, Torah encourages us to broaden our sight and to deepen our understanding to include things that are beyond ourselves.
Through the stories of our ancestors and through the intricate system of mitzvoth, Torah seeks to remind us that we are part of a greater picture and that we can help to fashion our Jewish world and the world beyond into a world of greater love, of greater caring and of greater compassion.
Our tradition teaches us that if we remember that we are connected with one another, as Jews and as a congregation, we will ultimately remember that we are connected not only with ourselves but with the greater world around us as well.
As Jews, we are not alone in the need to remind ourselves to broaden our sight and expand our understanding. I share with you the following prayer, written by Rev. Dr. William J Barber II in the hopes that it speaks to you, as it did to me:
A Prayer for Our Uncertain Times
May we who are merely inconvenienced remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors remember those most vulnerable.
May we who have the luxury of working from home remember those who must choose between preserving their health and making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close remember those who have no options.
May we who have to cancel our trips remember those who have no safe place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home remember those who have no home.
As fear grips our country, let us choose love.
And during this time when we may not be able to physically wrap our arms around each other, let us yet find ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbors. Amen.
– Written by Rev. Dr. William J Barber II
Coming together with one another in the “minyan” (a beautiful and a particularly Jewish concept), where we gather to pray, to learn, to celebrate, to comfort and simply to see and to hear one another, teaches us to remember that we are not alone in the world. And, it teaches us to remember the value of others as well.
The “minyan” is, in fact, one of the strongest foundations of the sights and sounds that lend meaning to our lives as Jews.
And so, I look forward to seeing you as often as possible, together, in our Monday and Thursday morning minyan services, as well as in our Friday evening minyan services.
Let us come together to see one another and to hear one another. Let us expand the sights and the sounds of our individual worlds and, together, we will increase the blessing in all of our lives.
This Shabbat we recite the prayer for the upcoming new Jewish month of Elul – the month of spiritual preparation for the High Holy Days! Rosh Chodesh Elul will be on Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday of this coming week! May it be a month of expanded sights and sounds – a month of increased connection – a month of healing, of comfort and of blessing!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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