Renewing Each Day the Work of Creation (July 2020 KOL)

Renewing Each Day the Work of Creation

“These are unprecedented times.”  How many times in the past few months have you heard someone say this, or thought it yourself?

It’s true that we are living at a unique moment in history.  We are in the grasp of a worldwide pandemic that is bringing suffering and death to so many.  Economic disruption threatens our financial security.  The deep-seated scourge of racism that impacts society in ways both subtle and systemic is being named and confronted.  There have been other times, of course, when our world has reckoned with disease, economic woes, and social protest, but seldom all of them simultaneously.  These are unprecedented times.

As I turn to Jewish teachings to guide me through these difficult days, I find an unusual and counterintuitive response.  In the Yotzeir prayer that is part of the morning liturgy, we read that God “renews each day the work of creation.”  The mystics of our people fathom that to mean that, each day, the world is created anew.

Each day, the world is not the same world as the day before.  Each day in the world is unprecedented.  And that means that all times are unprecedented!

I see that not as a statement of woe and dismay, but as an open-hearted acceptance of the opportunities we are granted with each day and moment.  Yes, these are trying times.  Yes, we may feel like we’ve never faced this set of challenges before. But we can also sense the chance we have each day to improve on the day before.  Crises also give rise to opportunities:  to care for one another, to explore our interdependence on one another, to reevaluate and revise how we treat one another.  If each day the world is created anew, each day we have the chance to try, once again, to make our world better.  Each day is unprecedented, in that it is different than any day that has come before. These are unprecedented times.  And Judaism reminds us that we have the opportunity to renew the world, for the better, each and every day.

I look forward to facing these days, their challenges and opportunities, with you.  I am proud to join TBS as your rabbi, mindful of the community’s rich legacy of caring and excited at the chances we will have together to improve ourselves and our world.    Guided by our faith, our tradition, and our God, our community will continue to live our values in renewing, each day, the work of creation.

Karen, Judah, Elisheva, and I have felt so welcomed already by this community.  We look forward to being part of the TBS family.