This Shabbat we read Parsha Vayechi, closing the Book of Genesis. This coincides with the end of the secular year 2017. The religious and secular realms share something else as well; we immediately move forward into the Book of Exodus and seamlessly, 2018 starts.
Exodus’s incredible story awaits its unfolding. And if only based on the events of the past year, we anticipate 2018 will be filled with things that will both challenge us and have a far-ranging impact upon us. How we respond will also have a great effect on the future as well.
We end Genesis, as with every book of Torah, with the traditional closing: “Hazak, Hazak, v’nitchazek! Be strong and together we shall be strengthened!”
May we live 2018 energized with the courage of our convictions and move forward together. May 2018 be a year of blessings for us all, in which we work toward creating a legacy worthy of the next generation.
Hard to get where you are going if you don’t know where you are
And you cant know where you are if you don’t know where you’ve been.
As aphorisms go, mine needs some work, but I hope you get the gist of it. We are ourselves links in a chain and our life journey is similar. The things we learn along the way shape us. Knowing our past helps us understand our present; who we are and how we connect with others. And that helps us take the next steps on our journey.
Our Legacy is not merely an Ethical Will we leave behind, it is the product of our life experiences. Let’s spend some time during 2018 embracing this idea and using it to understand how better to connect and create more meaningful relationships.
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As the President of the United States declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel, the various players had expected reactions. Many in Israel cheered, Arab Nations jeered, but really nothing has changed. The President officially recognized the de facto situation; Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. However, peace had not been advancing between parties and it seems unlikely this declaration does anything to move it forward. The two sides remain filled with mistrust of the other and neither is willing to budge from their respective recalcitrant positions. The status quo remains. Jerusalem, the City of Peace, sadly is not at peace.
We welcome Shabbat singing Lecha Dodi. In this mystical song-poem, Jerusalem is anthropomorphized; we prayerfully exhort that she shakes off the dust and embarrassment of a world that has forsaken what she represents to Jews and to humanity. I sing those verses with an ambivalent heavy heart every Friday night, struggling with why peace has not yet come to the place where God dwelled.
Jerusalem remains a city divided and in a state of unrest. Sadly, she is unable to bring unity to her people Israel, or to brothers and sisters who also share a vision of belonging. She is mine, but she belongs to others too. Jerusalem, The City of Peace still remains an elusive dream. An outside declaration or moving an embassy changes nothing. Only the will of those who truly seek her can realize the dream that Jerusalem is a holy center for humankind and the aspiration of peace on earth.
As part of the ritual of the Friday evening meal, we offer blessings- prayers of gratitude for our children and for our partner. The prayer men traditionally offer to their wife is the Eshet Chayil, A Woman of Valor. Taken from Proverbs 31 (verses 10-31) this poetry expresses our gratitude for the blessing of a cherished partner. Please enjoy this rendition of Eshet Chayil.