Dear TBC Family,
Unfortunately, due to a terrific display of nature's force resulting in internet and power outages all over our area, and the continued lack thereof for many in our community, our Tot Shabbat and Family Shabbat services are cancelled for tonight as is our Torah study tomorrow morning. We will instead hold our planned inaugural Tot Shabbat celebration followed by a Family Shabbat service next week.
In this week's Torah portion, Parshat Eikev, the Israelites are very near the end of their long schlep through the desert. They have been through so much, and have grown tired. They've been living in an unknown, liminal space for years, not knowing what would come next - a sort wilderness quarantine if you will, of the biblical age. Finally, they have reached the point where they see the end of their journey. They have been brought to the Promised Land and can almost taste the milk and honey they have been told flows within it.
For us on the other hand, it feels as though there is no end in sight. Epidemiologists have predicted more surges of Covid-19, and I have yet to reach Eversource or Optimum to get any information on when I can expect service to be restored. This is not quite the enthusiastic welcome to CT I had envisioned!
When considered cumulatively, all of this can be extremely frustrating, exhausting and frightening. Months of quarantine and necessary social distancing, trying at best, have been exacerbated by this week's power outages. With that in mind, I want to share with you two sections from this week's Torah portion which I hope will help to re--contextualize this moment.
In this week's parasha, Moses continues his final sermon to the Israelites, preparing them to enter the Promised Land without him. In reviewing their journey from slavery to freedom he is anticipating their self-governance and the responsibility that comes with it. He begins by acknowledging that their journey to this point has been not been an easy one:
"Remember," he instructs, "the long way that the Eternal your God has made you travel in the wilderness these past forty years, in order to test you by hardships to learn what was in your hearts ..." (Deuteronomy 8:2).
Then, just a few verses later, he switches and reminds the Israelites what a miracle their freedom is, and how blessed they were to survive the desert.
"You were fed manna, your clothes didn't wear out, your feet didn't swell, and the land you are about to enter is exceedingly good... where you will lack nothing ... (Deuteronomy. 8:4-9).
In other words, in true Jewish fashion, it could be worse!
In a week, seemingly like so many before, when on top of hurricane Isaias we saw yet another horrific disaster unfold, this time in Beirut, learned hundreds of thousands of Americans remain unemployed, and saw the US Covid-19 death count reach 160,000, we would be well served by finding things to be grateful for in the midst of so much brokenness. That is not to minimize in any way the current challenges so many face who remain without power, phone service, internet, and in some cases, access out of their neighborhoods. Rather, to point out that eventually, the lights and internet will come back on, roads will be cleared, God willing a vaccine and effective treatment for the Corona virus will be found, and we will return to some sense of normal life, perhaps with a greater sense of gratitude for what we used to take for granted.
In the meantime, I wish you a peaceful and rejuvenating Shabbat. May your power and internet be restored, the food in your refrigerators and freezers be spared, and may you savor time with loved ones, taking just a bit of respite from the world outside.
Shabbat shalom.... Cantor Dunkerley