Rabbi Dayle's July 2020 Letter to Congregation

posted Jul 1, 2020, 12:13 PM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Jul 1, 2020, 12:26 PM ]
Dearest Leyv Ha-Ir-niks,

This is my last newsletter message to you as your Interim Rabbi. What a year it’s been! We could not have imagined when we met at the High Holy Days that we would be three months into a global pandemic, that we would be gathering not with hugs and collective singing and shared refreshments, but in virtual spaces on Zoom! We could not have imagined that we would stay home to stay safe, and that we as a city and nation would be grappling with the toxic costs of racism and injustice.

I was reminiscing this week about that painful time in early March when we had to decide whether to hold Kabbalat Shabbat at the Ethical Society, and whether to cancel our planned Purim celebration and Pesach Seder. It was not clear then how we would go forward. There was so much loss and uncertainty. But somehow, we all migrated to “Zoom land,” and we discovered that we could connect to each other in our weekly SHAMANU sessions, and that we could raise our spirits and connect with the Divine and with our people in our monthly Kabbalat Shabbat services. We even managed to have meaningful learning in our spring education series, sadly minus the brunch!

You have all shown flexibility, patience and grit in this challenging time.

In this week’s Torah portion, Hukkat, the children of Israel find themselves without water. They are parched, frustrated, and hopeless. They rail against Moses and God, saying, “Why have you brought our holy community into this wilderness—so that we and our animals will die here? And why did you bring us up from Egypt to this awful place, where there is no grain or figs or pomegranates? There is not even water to drink!” (20:4-5)

God instructs Moses to take his staff, and to speak to a rock, and water will flow from it. Moses is furious at his faithless people and stung by their criticism. He says, “Listen you rebels, shall we get water for you from this rock?” and he angrily strikes the rock. Water does flow, but God is enraged that Moses has not followed orders. Later in the parashah, when the people are again in need of water, Moses sings to a rock and water emerges.

As we live through this time of fear, uncertainty and loss, we can probably relate to our people’s impatience and anger in the wilderness. How many of us have fervently wished that this would all be over already? How many of us wish we could go back to January, when we knew nothing of this terrible plague we are facing? The Torah calls us to patience, to appreciate the goodness we do experience, and to find new ways to get what we need.

I pray that we at Leyv Ha-Ir, as a community, will continue to support one another in finding blessing amid the challenges of this time, that we will quell our anger and act out of love, and that we will continue to find new ways to meet our needs and those of the people around us.

I look forward to the learning, prayer and observances ahead in the coming month.

With blessings for shalvah-tranquility,

Rabbi Dayle