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March 27, 2020
2 Nisan 5780

Parashat Vayikra
Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26

Dear Friends,

The reality that yesterday began the month of Nisan strikes an interesting counterpoint to the way many of us have been feeling -- namely, out of control. There is a minority opinion in the Talmud that the world was created on the 1st of Nisan. They believed this day is the time when the sun, moon, and seasons were created and time itself came into being.

For many of us, the last few weeks have changed our relationship to time. In some ways, the act of staying close to home even while working has blurred the edges of time. We are in a tunnel of sorts, with many waiting for the green light to be restored and normal activity to resume.

This time of year has always been a time of transition, of change. Sometimes we notice and other times we do not. Passover beckons us to notice that spring has arrived and with it the warmer weather and the flower and trees in bloom. Did we notice with our entire being in past years? I am not sure. I do know that when I go for my daily walks I notice the trees in bloom, the flowers pushing out, life going forward, unstoppable. It fills me with gratitude for what is, in spite of the pain.

The pain is real. It has touched our community at a number of junctures. And there is loss and dislocation and a sense of helplessness. But there is also a sense of beginning fresh, pushing the restart button, and accepting that how we feel is an important part of getting through this difficult time. I am not speaking politically here, I am not a fortuneteller and cannot see into the future. But I do know that when we are blessed to get to the other side of it, what we are experiencing will transform each of us in some way./p>

I know that can be hard for families to be together 24/7, or to be alone or even be with one’s partner all the time. But we are learning something about ourselves and what really matters to each of us. And as I look at the Tehillah community, what appears before my eyes is a community that cares about one another, that is happy to see one another even on Zoom, and that checks to see if everyone is all right (and if you aren’t, please let us know).

This week we begin the book of Leviticus, Vayikra, “and he called.” We are most certainly being called. We are most certainly being put in a place that we could never have imagined and our inner resources are being tested in ways we did not know possible. The underlying theme of Vayikra is purification in a number of different ways. It is the book of the Torah that, at first glance, with all of its descriptions of offerings, seems very far from all of us today. But as we look closer, we see that a teaching of the importance of community is embedded, as well as a sense of each individual having a sense of responsibility to that community through the lens of ritual offerings, as well as a holiness code.

If we imagine that the rituals described were happening while the people journeyed, those rituals had the capacity to anchor the people even as they were in a rapidly changing environment with no clear sense of where they would end up.

Let us learn from them and anchor ourselves. Let us make Shabbat different from all of the other days of the week. It certainly was for me last week, when I saw so many of you virtually and we were able to create holy time and space together.

Blessings continue to abound as strangers work together, friends reconnect, and communities continue to care for one another. We are living in extraordinary times. Let us take each day, bless it, and recognize the wonder of simply being alive.

May you and those you love come through these difficult days.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Sat, September 19 2020 1 Tishrei 5781