Sign In Forgot Password


Ta Shema: August 6, 2021


"I will say that it is exhausting and disheartening to be back to this level of caution."Last week we announced that we would be recommending mask-wearing again and that we have temporarily stopped serving food after Shabbat services. I will speak for myself when I say it is exhausting and disheartening to be back to this level of caution.

A few weeks ago Emily and I were taking Shlomi regularly to local museums. For now, we are limiting our family time to outdoor adventures only, and we are thankful to live in such a beautiful, outdoor-friendly place. We know science is based on the hypothesis and the evolution of knowledge. As a result of that, masks are back in and indoor spaces are out.

In Sephardic congregations this week, one haftarah and a portion of another are read. It is the third week of consolation when we read from the book of Isaiah chapters 54 and 55. It is also Shabbat Machar HaChodesh—this means that Rosh Chodesh takes places “Machar” or “tomorrow,” meaning the Sunday after Shabbat. Usually, we read the story in 1 Samuel of the intimate relationship between David and Jonathan as they say their goodbyes.

Jonathan’s father, King Saul, despises David, fearing that he will depose him from the throne. Sensing danger, Jonathan told David to hide in the field rather than attend Saul’s Rosh Chodesh feast. In the beginning of the portion, Jonathan says to David, "Tomorrow is the new moon, and you will be remembered, for your seat will be vacant.”

This verse hit differently for me this year. For weeks our seats have been filled with people as we relaxed mask requirements and filled our tables with food and laughter. I do know that some of you will choose to return to Zoom attendance since praying with masks on is hard for some people, as well as over the loss of our communal meals.

The Haftarah from Isaiah that we will read in services tomorrow answers back.

“You shall eat choice foods and enjoy the richest delicacies. Incline your ear and come to Me; Hearken and you shall be revived. And I will make you an everlasting covenant, the enduring loyalty promised to David.”

Isaiah reminds us that David, who was once fearing for his life, had the support of a good friend in his lifetime to get him through. He became king and earned the eternal promise of God’s covenant. The eternal promise of David is that we as the Jewish people will thrive.

So too, we see that today is scary, but we are still in this together. The future is bright, but today we are faced with radical uncertainty. Our haftarahs remind us that we can rely on our traditions and teachings to give us strength.

As for food, I hope to see you outside for our cookout Sunday, August 8th where we will fill our tables once more, eat choice foods and enjoy the richest delicacies together.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Bender


Wed, September 27 2023 12 Tishrei 5784