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Weekly Message

August 15, 2019
14 Av 5779

Parashat Vaetchanan
Deuteronomy 3:23 - 7:11

Dear Friends,

This week’s Torah portion contains within it the Shema, a prayer familiar to all. Let’s take a moment to take it in with greater care, with a somewhat alternate translation (interpretation):

Shema: Pay attention,
Yisroel: You, who struggle with God.
Adonai: Being in all of its variegated forms is
Elohaynu: Our God and
Adonai: All being is
Echad: One

Yes, we have many names for the Divine, but that is merely an indication of God’s indefinable presence and ultimately unity. We, each and every one of us, has a spark of the Divine. Our daily challenge is what to do with the Divine spark within us. How do we manifest it? The Shema reminds us and acknowledges that it is indeed a struggle and yet we are all in this together. We can only heal the world and ourselves if we come together. May we have the strength and the wisdom to do that.

I share this poem with you as a reminder of how powerful we are when we come together and support one another. Prayer works when it gives us the strength to bring our best selves forward and act.

The Low Road

What can they do
to you? Whatever they want.
They can set you up, they can
bust you, they can break
your fingers, they can
burn your brain with electricity,
blur you with drugs till you
can’t walk, can’t remember, they can
take your child, wall up
your lover. They can do anything
you can’t stop them
from doing. How can you stop
them? Alone, you can fight,
you can refuse, you can
take what revenge you can
but they roll over you.

But two people fighting
back to back can cut through
a mob, a snake-dancing file
can break a cordon, an army
can meet an army.

Two people can keep each other
sane, can give support, conviction,
love, massage, hope, sex.
Three people are a delegation,
a committee, a wedge. With four
you can play bridge and start
an organization. With six
you can rent a whole house,
eat pie for dinner with no
seconds, and hold a fund-raising party.
A dozen make a demonstration.
A hundred fill a hall.

A thousand have solidarity and your own newsletter;
ten thousand, power and your own paper;
a hundred thousand, your own media;
ten million, your own country.

It goes on one at a time,
it starts when you care
to act, it starts when you do
it again after they said no,
it starts when you say We
and know who you mean, and each
day you mean one more.

Marge Piercy

“The low road” is from The Moon Is Always Female by Marge Piercy. Copyright 1980 by Middlemarsh, Inc. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House. All rights reserved.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Fri, August 23 2019 22 Av 5779