Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Chayyei Sarah - Finding Comfort Amidst Dispair

...He loved her, and Isaac was comforted after the death of his mother. (Genesis 24:61)

Chayyei Sarah is a significant parasha in my life right now. My year of avelut is coming to a close. Although my custom is to recite Kaddish for the full 12 months, I am almost painfully aware that 11 months ended two weeks ago, October 19, We marked the moment with the unveiling. And so, I very much want to write about finding comfort after death and my year of Kaddish. 

But I can’t.

I can’t because there’s a much greater thing for which we all need comfort. I need not lay out the crushing loss of 11 souls among the Jewish people, nor the fear and worry we felt waiting for news after Shabbat and for the names of the dead. How do we find comfort after this blow to our community? How can the families and friends of the 11 find comfort in the week of shiva and beyond? And what of the individuals who survived - the ones who wonder why am I still here? Or the ones who didn’t make it to shul that morning? And yet we, and they will. We will find comfort in the hundreds of letters being shared by Jewish organizations, religious institutions beyond the Jewish community, and government leaders or the thousands of personal notes shared on Facebook orTwitter. We will find comfort in the grief shared with thousands. And we will find comfort in the strength of those who stand up and say, “We will not be afraid. We will not react with anger and hatred. We will come together and support each other.”

Rashi teaches that as long as Sarah was alive there was a candle lit from erev Shabbat to erev Shabbat, there was a blessing found in the dough, and a Divine cloud was connected to the tent. When she died, they disappeared. Isaac loved and married Rivka. He brought her into his life and into his mother’s tent. When Rivka entered these blessings reappeared. 

This week it felt like our blessings were gone. 11 lights were extinguished last Shabbat, but they will return. They will return through support from within and outside our community, through love, our light, our blessings, and our connection to God.

Hazak v’amatz. Be strong and courageous.

Shabbat shalom.

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