Finding Our Collective Hope

April 9, 2021

It was just over a year ago that our San Antonio community confronted the realities of the COVID pandemic head-on. Some early adopters began changing their behaviors in mid to late March, but by this point in April 2020, San Antonio had retracted into virtual isolation.

In this extraordinary year, we have experienced disproportionate amounts of death, hospitalizations, and personal loss. We have felt the isolation and associated loneliness on a mass scale, and we have seen our daily routines change instantaneously before our eyes. In “normal” times change like this might occur gradually over decades or even generations, and we would wake up one day wondering when all this happened and reminiscing for the days of old. However, this year has been so unique that every one of us can easily recall specific behaviors or events we experienced pre-COVID, which no longer exist today.

It is common during times of change, and even more so during times of sudden change like this, that we find ourselves struggling between a sense of optimism and hope for what could be, versus an outlook of pessimism and a sense of despair of what is. Thankfully, our Jewish tradition encourages us to pursue the optimistic perspective, which has been our driving force in surviving the [too] many experiences in our history when our pain and suffering could have easily given us the justification to throw in the towel and simply say this is too much! Maybe it could have been during the destruction of our holy Temples, or maybe during the over 400 years of slavery in Egypt, or maybe during the more recent horrific events of the Holocaust, that our despair could have, or maybe should have, overcome our hope. But it didn’t, rather, “The Hope” (Hatikvah) became the name of Israel’s national anthem as a sign that, like the phoenix rising out of the flames, so too is our vision for a vibrant and promising future.

Maybe we don’t embrace optimism as quickly or eagerly as two of our Talmudic sages, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Nachum Ish-Gamzu, who approached life with their convictions that, “All that Gd does is for good” and “This too is for the best” mantras respectively. Yet, if we can find a way to possibly start with John Maxwell’s more contemporary words of wisdom “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional”, then maybe we can find a path out of these troubling times as we have throughout history.

In this week’s Torah portion, Shemini, Aaron is faced with confronting the incredible pain of having just lost two sons. I cannot even imagine or comprehend his experience, just as I cannot conceive the pain of those who lost a loved one through COVID. However, it is through Aaron’s behavior following this traumatic experience from which we can find the strength to move forward. Although the pain and sorrow remained with Aaron for the rest of his life, his permanent ache did not define him nor his relationships afterward. Aaron was given one life to live, and it was his “silence” during this time, the sages teach us, that elevated his sanctity to priestly heights.

As we all begin to find our path out of our pandemic lifestyle, let us learn from Aaron’s doctrine that although we do not have the capacity to personally understand our neighbor’s pain nor struggle, we should nonetheless acknowledge that these experiences are part of who we are today. Further, we should each pursue our journey of growth and find our collective hope for a better future tomorrow.

 

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Shabbat shalom,

Archive

January 14 – Taking the First Step

January 7 – Seeing in the Dark

December 30 – Change Takes Time

December 23 – To Know Someone

December 17 – Multi-Generational Lessons

December 10 – Choosing Your Attitude

December 3 – Major vs Minor

November 24 – Be an Upstander, Not a Bystander

November 19 – Leaving a Legacy

November 12 – Jacob’s Ladder

November 5 – Relationships Matter

October 29 – Setting a Higher Standard

October 22 – On Being a Jew

October 15 – Blessed vs. Blessing

October 8 – Granting Trust

October 1 – Stronger Together

September 24 – REPRINT of October 9, 2020 

September 17 – Remember the days of old

September 10 – Ten Days of Teshuvah

September 3 – Our Jewish Peoplehood

August 27 – With all thy might

August 20 – Remembering to Forget

August 13 – The Trees of the Field

August 6 – The Mission of Maintaining the Roads

July 30 – Two Ears and One Mouth

July 23 – Antisemitism From All Sides

July 16 – The Greatest Threat

July 9 – Oxymorons and Echo Chambers

July 2 – The Impact of Today’s Decisions

June 25 – Or Lagoyim: A Light Unto the Nations

June 18 – Remembering Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg z”l

June 11 – Equity, Equality, and Investing in Our Future Leaders 

June 4 – An Optimist’s Perspective

May 28 – The Gathering of Feathers

May 21 – We Must be Proactive

May 14 – Here for Israel

May 7 – Behar Behukotai

April 30 – Lessons From My Saba

April 23 – Kedushah: Rising to Holiness

April 16 – Learning Empathy from Leprosy

April 9 – Finding Our Collective Hope

April 2 – Prayer Without Action is Simply Empty Noise

March 26 – Chag Pesach…

March 19 – First They Came For…

March 12 – A Prayer for Healing

March 5 – Combatting Antisemitism

February 26 – A Story Without Supernatural Miracles

February 19 – Federation is Here

February 12 – The Three Definitions of “Shemah”

February 5 – One Nation with One Purpose

January 29 – Prayer, Action, and Perspective

January 22 – Texas Holocaust Remembrance Week

January 15- The Role of Our Tent 

January 8 – Shemot

December 31 – Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazak!

December 25 – A “Community-First” Approach

December 18 – Dreaming in Color: Dreaming & Planning for Our Community

December 11 – The Big Room

December 4 – Wrestling with Our Angels

November 25 – The People Who Give Thanks

November 20 – We are the Toldot

November 13 – Your Personal Life and Legacy

November 6 – The Value of Calm and Reflection

October 30 – We Must Come Together

October 23 – For Hope For Humanity

October 16- The Good and the Very Good 

October 9 – The True Celebration of Simhat Torah

October 2 – The Festival of Ingathering

September 25 – The Two Goats and Yom Kippur

September 18 – The 10 Days of Awe

September 11 – Be Strong and Courageous

September 4 – Acknowledging Good

August 28 – Embracing Multiple Perspectives 

August 21 – Recalibrating in the month of Elul

August 14 – A Blessing and A Curse 

August 7 – A Good Name and A Good Reputation

July 31 – Comfort, Comfort My Nation

July 24 – Words Have Power

July 17 – Our Hope and Promise for the Future

July 10 – It Shall be for You and Your Descendants After You

July 2 – The Indescribable Bond of a Community

June 26- Jewish Wisdom from Our Community and the Torah

June 19- Milk and Honey

June 12- The Next Chapter

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