July 10, 2020
18 Tamuz 5780
Candle Lighting: 7:40 p.m.
This Shabbat, marks the first of three Shabbats leading up to the observance of Tisha B’Av, when we fast to commemorate the destruction of the temple, known as the Shabbats of rebuke. The Haftorahs for the first two Shabbats are taken from the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah warns the Israelites of the impending destruction and devastation that awaits them, should they not change their ways. Sure enough, the Israelites do not listen. They refuse to accept the challenges that they are facing, denying that there is anything really wrong, so their temple is destroyed, and their world crumbles around them.
According to Rabbi Jan Urbach, Director for the Center Spiritual Arts at the Jewish Theological Seminary, one of the important lessons we learn from the book of Jeremiah is healing and hope are dependent on stripping away denial, confronting reality, and experiencing comitant grief. I think this lesson is one that we need to take to heart, given the realities of the world around us.
I believe that the times that we are living in today have the potential to be a defining time for all of us. If we continue to deny the challenges that we are facing, if we continue to push them aside as insignificant or accept that we need a course correction, we will only head further down a path that will lead toward more destruction and devastation. We have prophetic voices all around us encouraging us to grapple with reality, accept it, embrace it, ultimately enabling us to change our trajectory toward one filled with healing and hope. As was the case in the time of Jeremiah, we have an opportunity to change but the widow is closing.
It is my hope and prayer for all of us that we have learned this important lesson from the time of the prophets. May we all have the strength, the wisdom, and the courage to confront the challenges that we face openly and honestly. May we continue to move forward, as individuals, as a community, and as a society, in a direction inspired by love, by healing, and filled with hope.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and peaceful Shabbat,
Rabbi Josh Dorsch