Today is DAY ELEVEN, which makes ONE WEEK and FOUR DAYS of the Omer.
Shalom Kol Dorot,
As we begin another week, I hope that everyone continues to stay safe, isolating as best you can to perform the mitzvah of pikuach nefesh—saving lives.
This evening marks the beginning of Yom HaShoah, the day on the Jewish calendar dedicated to remembrance of the Holocaust. ("Shoah" is Hebrew for "Holocaust.") We have been invited to participate in the community Holocaust Commemoration organized through Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley. For those who wish to participate tonight at 6pm, Zoom information is included in your email.
I'll continue to ask that if you or a loved one are ill, please let us know by responding to this email or calling the Kol Dorot office (201-664-7422). And always, if you are struggling to acquire food, medicine, or other basic needs, please reach out. Requests for assistance will be answered quickly and privately.
Chazak ve-ematz, "be strong and of good courage."
Torah for Today Rabbi Noah
A rabbi named Zusya of Hanipol died and went to stand before the judgment seat of God. As he waited for God to appear, he grew nervous thinking about his life and how little he had done. He began to imagine that God was going to ask him, "Why weren't you Moses or why weren't you Solomon or why weren't you David?" But when God appeared, the rabbi was surprised. God simply asked, "Why weren't you Zusya?"
- Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim
A few years ago, I gave a sermon at Yom Kippur about the danger of comparing ourselves to others. It makes us depressed. It leads inevitably to dissatisfaction with our own lives.
The danger is multiplied in our online world. Because we're not even really comparing ourselves to others; we're comparing ourselves to a carefully edited presentation of others. In the pictures above (from my weekend), the one on the left is the one that usually goes on Facebook—what cooperative, creative play! Of course, the one on the right we don't usually post, and that's probably a better representation of what most of our day is like. (I admit this example isn't perfect because the picture on the right is, in fact, also adorable.)
In our period of home isolation, it is easy to feel that everyone else it thriving, while we are struggling. Everyone else's children are keeping nature journals, taking Zoom piano lessons, and learning Mandarin. Among the adults, everyone else is catching up on reading, sewing masks for local hospitals, and baking their own bread. Indeed, some people actually are doing these things, which is wonderful! But on social media we don't see the struggles. We don't see sick relatives or fragile mental health or financial insecurity. Just about everyone is struggling right now, each in our own ways. And we need to remember that, because the images we see online try to convince us otherwise.
Not comparing ourselves to others is a big step forward in being comfortable with who we are and what we're able to do right now. You don't have to be Moses or King David—or your friend who takes a 6am Zoom pilates class. Just be Zusya—just be you. Whatever you're able to do right now, it's enough.
Ben Zoma taught, "Who is rich? One who is happy with what they have." May we achieve that happiness and balance, to sustain us during these days of crisis.
Ethics Study Group with Rabbi Noah
Check your daily email for meeting information
In Case You Missed It
This week featuring the return of Kol Dorot Music Director Jim Rensink!
Recorded LIVE on Saturday evening.