At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this has been a funky week in America, hasn't it?! We are strangely in synch with the Jewish calendar, though... descending through stages of mourning and grief in reverse, until we hit the low-point of Tisha B'Av (celebrated this year on this coming Saturday night/ Sunday), which commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem and the depths of brokenness in the world.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this has been a funky week in America, hasn't it?!
We are strangely in synch with the Jewish calendar, though... descending through stages of mourning and grief in reverse, until we hit the low-point of Tisha B'Av (celebrated this year on this coming Saturday night/ Sunday), which commemorates the destruction of Jerusalem and the depths of brokenness in the world.
It's not yet clear how the story of our generation, and this moment in time here in the U.S., will ultimately be told by historians. Here at Kavana, it's our fierce belief that WE have a role to play in trying to turn the tide in our society, away from hatred, fear and destruction, and towards love, compassion and justice.
The Jewish calendar -- in its cyclical way -- helps pave the road for us to do this... escorting us through the depths of despair this week and back out the other side, towards hope, comfort and rebuilding.
If ever you felt the pull to link your own story up with the Jewish calendar, let this be the week! Please join us for one of our many community gatherings... tonight at the QA Farmers' Market, tomorrow/Friday night for Shabbat in the Park, or Saturday night for our erev Tisha B'Av event (see below for more details on all of these).
This configuration rings true to me today. I picture volunteers in my community working shoulder-to-shoulder in the kitchen preparing meals for homeless “tent city” residents or a multigenerational group marching for justice and equality arm-in-arm, like a wall of planks.
In this quiet pause, it's awesome to be able to reflect on the theme of this week's holiday. Thanksgiving isn't celebrated widely in Israel, of course, but it does have a Hebrew name: Chag ha-Hodaya, literally, the Holiday of Gratitude (or thanks or acknowledgement). You might recognize the root word from so many of our Jewish prayers... it's conjugated into forms like "modeh ani" ("I give thanks") or "modim anachnu lach" ("We give thanks to You") or, perhaps most famous of all -- a line repeated during the Hallel service or at a bris -- "hoduladonai ki tov, ki l'olam chasdo" ("Give thanks to Adonai who is good, for God's lovingkindness endures forever.")
Last night, I went to bed with the mixed election results fresh in my mind. This morning, I woke up thinking about a powerful image that appears at the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Parashat Toledot. In last week's reading, Abraham's servant had traveled to find a wife for Isaac, and he had selected Rebecca based on her incredible generosity and compassion (as our Moadon students have learned, she offered water not only to him but also to his camels!). This week, we meet Rebecca again, now pregnant and uncomfortable. She seeks divine intervention, and is told that two nations are struggling in her womb. In the pshat (the simple, plain meaning), this means that she is pregnant with a set of twins. On the level of drash (deeper interpretation), these twins, Jacob and Esau, represent two very different modalities of being, and it is these that are struggling within her.