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From the Rabbi - Words of the Spirit

Who Knows

07/02/17 06:41:01 PM

Each November the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College hosts a three-day gathering for prospective students. This past fall’s Institute began on November 9, the day after the American presidential election, which had been preceded by a long season of acrimonious campaigning, and a deteriorating civil discourse. In this article about the event, several biblical figures and narrative threads are referenced that have been on my mind of late. And they relate just as vividly to this moment in Canada, and to our lives, as they did to that moment in the US.

At their welcoming session, students were told of a moment in the story of the biblical Esther. As the Megilah relates, she is inside the household of the crazy and unpredictable ruler, and, having learned that he is planning to annihilate her people, fears confronting him. Dean Elsie Stern reminded the prospective rabbinical students – in paraphrasing Esther 4:14 – “Maybe it is just for a time like this that you have arrived where you are.”

This is a phrase, and a passage, that has come up again and again for me in a variety of situations – personal, professional and political. Indeed, it arose when I reflected on the personal and the political last November here.

Who knows, indeed, when each one of us can play a critical role, in a critical position, at a critical moment. It’s a psychological as well a theological query. We’re invited to probe, to seek to understand, to make sense of an otherwise random or hard-to-fathom circumstance.

My colleague Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herman led a session at the Institute that looked at Judaism’s complicated view toward the idea of resistance. Her understanding of resistance in the Jewish tradition revolves around maintaining a strong community, directly confronting wrongdoing and trying to change hearts through dialogue.

So whether you are beside a neighbour whose life, background or views differ from yours – and I am not merely referencing a supportive inclination – or beside a loved one in a hospital room, the invitation this verse offers is for each of us to heighten our awareness of what we can leverage in our lives, with the capacities we possess, and with the courage we can muster. For, who knows …

- Rabbi Liz

Previous posts from Words of the Spirit >>

Klez 10: A Benefit for the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank

Or Haneshamah is once again a sponsor of this year's musical fundraiser to benefit the Ottawa Kosher Food Bank. Klez 10: A Klezmer event to benefit the Kosher Food Bank of Ottawa, features A Touch of Klez, Musica Ebräica, and International Folkdancers of Ottawa. February 26, 2017, 7PM at Kehillat Beth Israel, 1400 Coldrey Ave. Admission is $10 at the door.

For more information, contact Olly at owodin@yahoo.ca

The Arrival of Our New Sefer Torah!

new sefer torahIn 2016 Or Haneshamah received a gift of a sefer Torah from congregation Kehillat Beth Israel. Read about this and our Hachnasat Sefer Torah celebration here.

Mon, 20 February 2017 24 Sh'vat 5777