I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Happy and Healthy 2023! How time flies…and yet Torah teaches us to keep our spirits up and not to give up on our personal and collective dreams and vision.
This coming Tuesday is Asarah B’Tevet [the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tevet], one of the minor fasts days of the Jewish calendar. This means that the fast begins on Tuesday morning at dawn and ends 25 minutes after sunset. While we may or may not all observe the fast (refraining from eating and drinking), the significance of the day is still relevant to our lives.
Asarah B’Tevet marks the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E. by the Babylonians. Eighteen months later, the Babylonians destroyed the 1st Temple in Jerusalem, and the first exile from the Land of Israel. Sadly, we see that destructive elements have a way of “simmering” over time.
In our weekly parsha, Vayiggash, we learn of the significance of the Land of Israel to our people. We may notice that derivatives of the Hebrew word “aliyah” [going up] are used in relation to traveling or moving from Egypt “up” to Israel; and derivatives of the word “yeridah” [going down] are used in relation to traveling or moving from Israel “down” to Egypt.
As time moves on, we are all, personally and communally, in a state of constant motion and change. Through it all, taking into account the ups and downs of life, we are reminded both by the fast of Asarah B’Tevet and by the carefully chosen words in our parsha of the centrality of Israel in our tradition. Going toward Israel is considered “moving up” in the world!
May the new year of 2023 bring us many blessings, health, happiness, and change for the good. In the new secular year, may we keep in mind the centrality of Israel and our ability to stay connected with Israel no matter where we live!
Shabbat Shalom and a Happy and Healthy 2023!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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