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August 7, 2020

17 Av 5780

Parashat Eikev

Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25



Dear Friends,


I begin with thanks to those who have kept Tehillah going through the month of July, especially Rose and Meir Beer. Although they have led services before when I was on vacation, this year has presented a few more challenges and I know the ability to come together has been more important than ever.


In a year where the observance of Tisha B’Av seemed more central than ever, we had a powerful gathering organized by Stella Morrison and Madeline Ritter in partnership with Bend the Arc. Hearing so many voices in English and in Hebrew was powerful. Eicha (Lamentations), which is read on Tisha B’Av, ends on a note of hope and possibility. Eicha also ends with the implication that the future is up to us. “Turn us Adonai, toward you, and we will turn. Make our days new again, like the dawn.”


Just yesterday was Tu B’Av, the 15th day of Av, which began with the full moon the night before. Tu B'Av is a mysterious festival with no ritual observances, yet is mentioned in the Talmud in the same breath as Yom Kippur as the greatest festival of the year. It was a day where the women would dance in the vineyards, making it a good day for finding a partner. We are told that it is a time to increase our study of Torah because the nights begin to grow longer and the night was created for the study of Torah. In modern Israel it is seen as a good day to get married -- a day for love.


Why am I sharing this obscure mysterious holiday with you instead of writing about Moses' final words to the people? I do so because of the value that our ancestors put on connection, on creating a future. Although today we might put less value on finding a husband or wife, finding those with whom to partner with in friendship and in love and caring is all important, especially at this moment.


How do we turn to the future? Turn to the Divine? I am aided by the belief that each and every one of us has a spark of the Divine light and that the only way forward is through love. This mysterious festival of love and connection strikes me as light in the darkness. A full moon coming after days of mourning and despair fills us with hope and possibility at a time when we need both. The sense of that which is unknowable permeates our daily lives; right now, anchored by a sense of celebration, there is this mysterious holiday mentioned by Talmud.


My wish for you this Shabbat is to find that which shines light on you during this time where what was is no longer. We look to the words of Moses as he gave the Israelites their final instructions; we may not know what comes next, but our actions in this moment have consequences. May our actions come from a place of love and hope.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Thu, September 24 2020 6 Tishrei 5781