As I watch the leaves fall on my Sukkah I feel both sadness and satisfaction. The past month filled with holidays and time to renew relationships with family and community and, prayerfully, move from atonement to attunement is over. Despite the radical changes in the way we came together to celebrate, we still celebrated the Yom Tovim and Sukkot. Even Simchat Torah, though without its joyful in-person singing and dancing, could be celebrated. Our sages have taught that each of us is a Torah. Many of us observed others and each other dancing in our living rooms!
So now we come down the mountain of holidays to begin anew the work of Creation. This Shabbat we read Parshat Breshit, our unique story of Creation. Breshit, a weaving together of ancient Israelite Creation stories, is filled with terrific insights.
It is the first ancient text that we know of that assumes the existence of and power of One Creator. There is no reference to the pantheon of gods and goddesses prevalent in the ancient world. Genesis 1 counters negativity, affirms the power of spiritual Light in the face of darkness and, also, insists on the essential Goodness of Creation.
The human being, Adam, created both male and female (Genesis 1:27) is the pinnacle of Creation and the enormity of human responsibility. Subsequent chapters in Genesis explore this in deeper and disturbing ways. Over and over again we see Adam, the human, hiding from personal accountability. “Are we not our brothers’ keeper?”
This weekend we begin the month of Heshvan. The month was also known as Marcheshvan. There are no holidays. As a member of Am Kolel taught, we are putting our gardens and fields to rest and collecting our seeds for a future planting. Now is the time to also plant and nurture the seeds within each of us and within our communities and society.
In three weeks, we will see the outcome of the Election. We will also know more about what our Supreme Court will look like. This coming Shabbat we offer special prayers for the new month. The name Marcheshvan begins with the word Mar which means bitterness. It is up to us to temper that bitterness and, even, reverse it. If we reverse the letters MaR, we get RaM. In Hebrew that means “exalt.” May we go from bitterness to exaltation.
Join us in prayer and action wherever you are this coming Shabbat and in these coming weeks. B’Shalom, Reb David