This Shabbat we will be reciting the prayer for the upcoming new Jewish month of Kislev. Rosh Chodesh Kislev will be on Thursday night and Friday of this coming week. And Chanukah will be celebrated beginning toward the end of the month of Kislev…May it be a month of joy, of good health, of comfort, of blessing and of peace!
But, just around the corner is Halloween! Although Halloween is not a “Jewish” holiday, lots of us relate to it anyway….Got your costume? Ready for the fun? The weather promises to be conducive to trick or treating. Just be safe.
The excitement of Halloween comes just once a year. Maybe that is what makes it so special. Maybe it is the sharing of the fun coupled with the tension and the spooky quality that makes it so special. Maybe it is simply the contrast with the calmer days of our lives. What do you think makes it so special?
Speaking of the contrast between the ups and the downs of life….Our weekly Torah portion of Chayey Sarah is just such a contrast with last week’s Torah portion of Vayera! Last week’s parsha was filled with excitment and with out of the usual events that happened in the course of Abraham and Sarah’s lives. There were wars. There was the Akeda [the Binding of Isaac]. There was the whole story of Sodom and Gemorrah. Lots of action. Lots of ups and very few downs in between…. Lots of stories that we may find hard to connect with our everyday lived experiences.
But, this week’s parsha, Chayey Sarah, deals with regular life experiences. For instance, our parsha deals with questions like: how do we deal with the death of a loved one; how do we look for and possibly find a marriage partner; how do we convey our values to the next generation? This week’s parsha has more things in it that reflect our everyday lives.
Yet, even in our relatively calm, everyday, lives, there are ups and downs. And, for all of us, there are seasons of our lives. There are more turbulent times and more calm times. Youth and old age are not the same. We change over a lifetime. If we are granted the gift of long life, we inevitably experience different seasons of our lives. And the flavor of one season spills over to the flavor of the next.
We all need to know how to navigate the stormy times as well as the calm times of life. And, that is exactly what the Torah helps us to do by reflecting so well the various seasons of our lives in the stories of our ancestors!
Halloween comes just once a year. Similarly, Shabbat comes just once a week, and Chanukah comes just once a year, after we have experienced a calm, holiday-free, couple of months since the intensity of the High Holy Days. The seasons of each year are reflected in the seasons of our lives. And, all of these seasonal changes – all of the ups and downs of our lives – are reflected, for our benefit, in our Torah in the ups and downs of the stories of the lives of our patriarchs and matriarchs.
Hopefully, we can ride the waves of life and then enjoy the calm times in our lives, as well. Hopefully, we can enjoy Shabbat and Halloween and Chanukah as much as we appreciate the calmer days and weeks and months in between.
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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