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Parashat Miketz

December 18, 2020
3 Tevet 5781
Parashat Miketz
Genesis 41:4 - 44:17

Dear Friends,

Last night, many of us gathered together as we lit the 8th Chanukah candle via Zoom.  It has been a holiday unlike any other that we have experienced.  For most of us, there have been no party-like-gatherings of friends and family; yet, this community has come together in an extraordinary fashion, spreading the light and the hope that is Chanukah in myriad of ways. You participated by sharing your pictures of lit Chanukiyot (aka. menorahs), telling us the story behind them, and/or made your own. (See above picture for Ben’s ice menorah, which was successfully lit last night after our program ended.)

One of the ways we share light is through our prayers and our caring thoughts. You exhibited that caring through your continued recitation of psalms on Debbie Eiseman’s behalf and understanding that this is a time for us to listen to what the Eiseman/Tanner family wants and needs.

In this time of separation due to Covid, what would be regular and normal is simply not operative. There are members of our community who are dealing with loss and distance and as a result cannot respond in the ways that they usually would. 

Even simchas cannot be celebrated in the usual way. In my family, we had the pleasure of attending 2 baby namings, both via Zoom, while the brit milah of the most recent member of our family was a private event.

Our weekly Torah portion, Miketz, has some of echoes of occurring in a time that was not normative or regular. It was a time of famine when the only place where food was available was Egypt. This change in food resources forced Jacob to send ten of his sons down to Egypt to purchase food, having no idea that the son he thought dead was in charge of food distribution. Until that time of famine -- that moment of extremity -- life continued as it had before. The Torah does not really address the time beyond telling us that there were seven years of plenty and an expectation of seven years of famine, for which the Egyptians prepared.

There is much to the story of Joseph and his brothers that we could explore in terms of the family relationships and personal development of each of the characters. We could also explore the political implications of how Joseph administered the program that he created and was in charge of. But what captures my attention at this moment, and resonates with the moment we are in, is that new normals are a regular occurrence. Sometimes those new normals occur on a personal level, be it through both joyful and sad life cycle events, but also as part of a bigger picture.

We currently find ourselves in a world that is significantly different from what it was twenty years ago at the turn of the century. The reality is that we cannot go back to what was, even when the threat of Covid recedes. Like our ancestors, we will need to find new ways of being in the world, unable to go backward to what was, but to embrace new ways of going forward. I would like to believe that we now find ourselves in a time where we realize how dependent we are on one another and the need to work together. Our story has another lesson embedded that we can all take with us; there are moments when what has happened in the past must be set aside so that we are able to move forward, step by difficult step.

Shabbat SHalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Tue, April 13 2021 1 Iyyar 5781