Sign In Forgot Password

Shabbat Message

Dear Haverim, 

It has been one of those weeks when it seems like the universe is drawing my mind to one thing over and over: trust. Or, more precisely, the lack of it. In this week’s Torah portion, the Israelites are right at the border of the promised land -- close enough to go check it out, in fact. But when they do, they learn in terrifying detail about the intimidating people living there, and they fall into a panic. They know their own strength is insufficient to the task, their fear overpowers their nascent trust in God, and they are unable to move forward. 

God is indignant. After the miracles of the Exodus, how can the Israelites not trust that God will keep them safe through this? And since they clearly don’t have that trust, what is left to do? It seems like God has pulled out all the stops already, what with the plagues and the splitting of the sea and the manna. If the people don’t trust now, where do we go from here? 

This same question has bubbled up in several of our chevruta conversations lately -  not in relation to God and Israel, but in thinking about the frayed trust in our country after this past year. Maybe you already knew that Americans don’t all trust the same sources of information, but now we have seen that play out in a life-and-death arena. You may have known in theory that our culture of individualism makes it awfully hard to align behaviors for a common cause, but now we have seen this take shape in some pretty disturbing ways. If we can’t even trust each other during a pandemic, what is left to do? In the wilderness and today, without trust, we are stuck. We peer into that ever-widening chasm between us, and we lose hope, we lose sleep, we lose our nerve.

Sometimes I think we set the bar too high on what exactly “trust” or “faith” needs to look like. God did not need the Israelites to believe with certainty that they would gain safe entry into the land -- they just needed to be willing to take one step forward as if it were true. And then another, and then another.  What would that look like today? What would it look like to take one tiny step toward the belief that these rifts can be healed? 

Shortly after 9/11, Rabbi Menachem Creditor wrote the song Olam Hesed Yivaneh. I think Rabbi Lauren has shared it once with you already, but I can’t help but share it again. 

The words are:
Olam Hesed Yivaneh
I will build the world from love,
And you must build the world from love.
And if we build the world from love,
Then God must build the world from love.

In times of uncertainty, these resolutely hopeful words set to such a searching, melancholy tune express my grief alongside the earnest belief that we can help to build the world we dream of. Love is contagious. Trust too.

Shabbat shalom,
Dr. Amy

And now for a few brief announcements 

  • Please join us in welcoming Camille Carpenter, a new member of the Or Hadash staff who will focus on marketing and communication. We will send out a proper introduction next week, but in the meantime, we are excited to welcome her to her first Shabbat services this weekend! 
  • We still have many spaces in the sanctuary this evening! If you’d like to join us in person, please sign up here.
  • This Sunday between 10am and 1pm, please join us for a ribbon cutting and celebration of our new courtyard garden! We’ll have bagels and refreshments, rocks to paint, and vegetables to plant. You’ll find more information here. A HUGE thank you to this week’s garden team, who worked so hard to make this a reality! Pictured here are David Epstein, Ariana Lewis, Kayla Engle-Lewis, Joel Dworkin, and Eli Lewis (not pictured: Renee Videlefsky, who was most likely holding the camera!

Wed, June 16 2021 6 Tammuz 5781