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Naso 4:21 - 7:89

Dear Friends,

We are living through a moment in time like no other. It is a tipping point, and what we do and how we respond matters. But the truth is, how we behave and how we live always matters and always has mattered. The way we interact with others has always mattered. Our tradition teaches us that our behavior -- our actions -- count for more than our words. Our actions are what lead the way, what guide us, and what put us on the proper path.

These past few months have been a time of introspection for many, as we have been stuck at home. This time has been an opportunity to see the enormity of inequity that has been there for quite some time. Most of all, this last week was a time of deep wrenching pain. What is our path forward?

Micah teaches us: “People, you’ve been told what is good, and what God requires of you: do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

This week’s Torah portion, Parashat Naso, includes the Nazarite vows, the ordeal of the possibly adulterous wife, the division of labor among the Levite families, and the tri-part priestly blessing.

May God bless you and keep you.
May the light of God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you
May God’s face be lifted upon you and grant you peace.

(Numbers 6:22-26)

The priestly blessing is a prayer of hope and possibility. It is a blessing that feels difficult to integrate at this moment of grief, yet seems to be more important now than ever. These are blessings that belong to all of us; we are told by God that we are to be a “kingdom of priests." This is our challenge at this moment in time. How can we stretch and become our best selves, as that is how I wish to interpret that phrase.

This is a blessing we give to others even as we receive it. These are blessings that acknowledge the mutual relationship that we have with the Divine. We both receive and give these blessings. Embedded in these blessings, which we at Tehillah sing together at liminal moments in the life of our community, is an opportunity to accept our responsibility to bring peace and grace into the world. We know that we cannot do these things alone. At this time, more than ever, we need to find strength in one another even as we continue on our individual journey.

When we look at the imagery of God’s face turning toward us, we are reminded to turn our faces toward our neighbors and see in them the spark of the Divine that rests in each and every one of us. This can be a challenge but it is a challenge that we need to embrace. If we are to be a nation of priests, we are tasked with making the world a place of blessing, a place of love, a place of peace. Our job is not to complete the task, our job is to take on the task, sharing the work as we go forward.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

We encourage you to contact Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn if you are in need of pastoral care at RabbiLindaSC@congregationtehillah.org.

Tue, August 4 2020 14 Av 5780