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Ta Shema: July 29, 2022

Much of the Torah is focused around the search for home. Home, for many of us, either in remembering our childhoods or in the home we established as adults, brings to mind positive affiliations. Home is the beginning and end of our journey each day, and of course in the great journey of life. This upcoming week’s Torah portion begins to bring to a close the Book of Numbers, which is wholly concerned with the pursuit of a home in the Promised Land.

The people reach the land just over the Jordan River from the Promised Land. The tribes of Reuben and Gad, who herd cattle are ready to stop traveling and create a home on this side of the Jordan which is lush with green pastures. However, when they suggest staying put, Moses is upset.

The issue seems to be that this choice is only concerned with their own personal welfare. Moses asks them why they would choose a different path when they are so close to reaching a homeland for all the tribes. After hearing Moses’ concern, they agree to help establish a home for the entire community before returning to the pastures to tend their cattle. 

The message of the Torah is clear. Everyone in the community must have a safe place to be before any of us consider ourselves at home.

The story of displacement lies deep within our communal and individual Jewish histories. Narratives of fleeing oppression and wandering in search of home lie at the heart of our most sacred texts, inform our most cherished relationships, and have shaped our individual identities as Jews.

There has not been a time since my joining this sacred community, and a little bit before, that there has not been a big Covid shaped curve ball thrown at us. Despite that, we are up to bat with the bases loaded at the top of the ninth. But we really need all of us to hit it out of the park.

But as the Torah teaches us, everyone must feel safe for us to consider ourselves at home. For those of you who haven’t yet for whatever reason– come home. Come see the gorgeous sanctuary and feel the sense of calm wash over you when you enter that space. Come to services. Come join the baggers. Join the education committee, open doors committee, sunshine team, or chevra kaddisha burial society. Just stop by the office to say hi and let’s have a cup of coffee. 

Let the synagogue be the beginning and the end of your journey, but most importantly, let it be the 120 years in between. And remember, every one of you matters and is important, essential, along the journey.

B'Shalom, 

Rabbi Chaya Bender

Mon, October 3 2022 8 Tishrei 5783