Today, more than ever, we need prayers for our country. We need prayers for the renunciation of violence as a way of resolving differences of opinion. We need prayers for a restoration of the art of listening, of the art of respectful dialogue, and of the art of building relationships in good faith. These are the core values of our Jewish faith.
Parashat Shemot tells the story of a transition in which relationships were needlessly discarded and destroyed. The Torah tells us that a new Pharaoh came into power and did not remember Joseph. A new Pharaoh came into power and good relationships were dissolved. Trust was eroded. Violence erupted. And people suffered.
The good news is that after many years of suffering, the story of the Exodus is also told. After much suffering, the Exodus enabled our people to create a new atmosphere, to receive Torah at Mount Sinai, and to believe that we can be partners in making our world a better place.
The story of our people is a story for all times. It is eternal. And it is relevant for us today.
As we each listen to this week’s news and interpret it in our various ways, let us not forget the value of respectful relationship. We belong to one another. We care about one another. We are responsible for one another. We may disagree, but let us not forget how to stay in respectful relationship.
The message of “Kol Yisrael Chaverim” [we are all interconnected], which we say when we recite the prayer for the upcoming new Jewish month, as we do this Shabbat, is also a message for all of us beyond the Jewish community. The work of staying in respectful relationship is not easy. It is an ongoing challenge. That is why we need to remind ourselves each month that “Kol Yisrael Chaverim” – that we are all interconnected. But, the nature of our relationships is determined by our actions.
Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be this coming Wednesday night and Thursday. May the upcoming Jewish month of Shevat be a month of great blessing – a month of respectful dialogue, a month of peaceful transition, a month of increased friendship, and a month of health and of healing for one and all.
As we pray for our country, we also pray for the coming days, weeks and months to be a time of blessing.
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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