This has been an unsettling week. With the election itself over and not yet knowing the outcome of the presidential race there are so many emotions on all sides – anxiety, worry, fear, hope. . .
Tonight, when the sun sets on this week and we welcome in Shabbat, we need to turn off. We need to tune out the noise of this election. We need to stop, to breathe, to rest, we need to find peace – peace of mind and peace in our souls.
We turn to Torah, focusing on the story and the words, considering what might jump off the page and help guide us from the peace of Shabbat into the uncertainty of the week ahead.
This week’s parashah is Vayera and it begins with the words, “And God appeared (Vayera) to him (Abraham).” Vayera in Hebrew is spelled, vav – yud – resh – aleph. These four letters together can either mean “and he appeared, to see or behold” or could mean “and he feared, to be frightened.” Depending on the context, the word Vayera can either point to a new opportunity or a time to turn inward in fear. The four letters remain the same; however, the meaning that we layer on them is very different.
Abraham is an incredible example for us. Time and again when God appeared (Vayera) to Abraham, he could have cowered in fear but he didn’t. Instead of accepting everything that happened or everything that God said, Abraham saw possibility, so he questioned, he quarreled, he pushed himself, and he pushed God. Most importantly he did so not in anger or with spite but with compassion and love. And because of this, Abraham was a blessing – a light in this world.
When Shabbat ends, we may have an answer about the next president of our country, and we may or may not like the outcome. Vayera – Will we be paralyzed by fear or will we see opportunity?? It is clear that we, as a country, have tremendous healing to do. For too long, we’ve allowed our differences to divide us – causing mistrust, anger, and fear. Are you ready to be like Abraham – to struggle in this work – opening your heart, your mind, sharing yourself and listening to others?? Only when we come together, will we be able to create an America that truly adheres to the ideals of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all its inhabitants.
May the rest and quiet of this Shabbat bring peace to our hearts, our minds, and our souls. May we find renewed strength to move forward into the new week, and like Abraham, may each of us be a blessing and a light in this world.
I hope you will join me tonight for Shabbat Alive!!
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