Rabbi Dayle's March 2020 Letter to the Congregation

posted Mar 1, 2020, 10:06 AM by Congregation Leyv Ha-Ir   [ updated Mar 1, 2020, 10:12 AM ]
March 2020-Adar 5780

Dear Leyv Ha-Ir hevre (friends),

This month on the Hebrew calendar is Adar, which is the subject of a very special rabbinic saying: “Once Adar arrives, we increase our joy” – mi-shenichnas Adar marbim b’simcha. This teaching could be simply a description, but my sense is that it is an imperative. We are obligated to cultivate joy in this month because of what we learn from the story of Purim, which falls on the 14th of Adar.

On its face, Purim seems to be a kind of Mardi Gras, inviting silliness, disguise, noisemaking and even intoxication. Beneath all of that, however, is a deep and comforting message. The Purim story is, at base, about transformation, or, in Hebrew, v’nahafoch hu “it was reversed.” The Jewish people are rescued from persecution by Mordechai and Esther. Mordechai and Esther cease being closeted Jews (their names are taken from Persian deities, Marduk and Astarte) and instead courageously stand up and bring “light, joy and preciousness” to the Jewish people. Esther is transformed from a passive sex object to an empowered person with a voice and inner worth and strength.

This message of transformation is more powerful than ever in our challenging times. Amid darkness and injustice, we are reminded that things don’t stay the way they are. We are inspired by Mordechai and Esther to find our own voices, to live with hope, to say NO to injustice, and to foster transformation and repair of our broken world. And, I would suggest, cultivating joy is a critical bolster to the work of transformation. I encourage all of us to find opportunities of delight—in the small moments of our lives, in special treats, and in the richness of our community.

I am looking forward to celebrating Purim with the Leyv Ha-Ir community on Sunday, March 15. We will engage in revelry and take courage from the deepest teachings of the holiday.

I’m excited to lead Kabbalat Shabbat on March 13, when our worship will be enhanced by the accompaniment of jazz pianist, Peter Simpkins, Team Shira and drumming by Sue Frank.

Finally, I hope you will join us for the first session of our upcoming education series, Grit and Grace, on Sunday, March 22. We will explore Jewish tools for growing wiser and deeper as we grow older.

May your Adar be filled with joy.

With abundant blessing,

Rabbi Dayle