https://aishstlouis.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Full-house-L-L-at-the-Crown-7-9-19-e1604689983873.jpeg 2697 3951 Caren Goldstein https://aishstlouis.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/aish_logo.svg Caren Goldstein2018-01-03 12:00:262020-11-27 14:10:31A Shabbat Message from Mimi… November/28/2020 Kislev/12/5781
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I am fairly sure that Dickens did not mean the era of corona when he penned those words, but they certainly fit well these days. In some ways, it is the best of times, meaning that the pandemic has brought out the best in so many people. A couple of weeks ago I asked women to share some of the things they are doing to give to others these days. I got the most beautiful responses! People are reaching out to those that are stuck at home, with a phone call or with a container of soup. People packed Thanksgiving dinners for those who were celebrating alone. The list of giving for the sake of giving goes on and on.
On the other hand, this is also the worst of times. Not just because of the pandemic and people getting sick, but because of the negativity that is going on between neighbors and friends. Talking about others, not trusting people, even tattling, these are some of the worst things that corona has brought out in us. We are sacrificing our shalom (harmony) on the altar of public health.
Here’s the thing about shalom. Every day for thousands of years, we Jews have been praying for the coming of the Mashiach, and for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Mashiach’s arrival and the Jews having a Temple in Jerusalem will do so much more for us, and are so much more powerful than any vaccine for corona that may be released. In order for that to happen, we need to fix something big that caused us to lose our Temple in the first place — and that is community harmony, also known as shalom. That is why we are always striving for peace and unity in our community. That is why shalom is such a big deal for us. Unfortunately, when shalom has disintegrated and harmony is eroded, Mashiach will take one look at us and run the other way. He ain’t comin if he sees the state we are in, with all the gossiping, tattling and lack of trust, and redemption will be that much more elusive of a dream.
Here’s another thing about shalom. The commentaries describe shalom as the vessel that contains all the blessings in our lives. Meaning, a person can have a life of many blessings, like wealth, prestige, good looks, talents, health, and more, but, if at the same time the person does not have shalom in her life, all those blessings become worthless. A husband and wife can be as rich as Rockefeller, but their money does nothing for them if they don’t get along. I know I am being direct when I say this, but even if we have public health, if it came at the cost of shalom, we have literally nothing.
Let’s look at this week’s Torah portion, Parshas Vayeitzei. You all know the story of Rachel giving the secret codes to Leah when she married Jacob. You can all try to imagine the tremendous self-sacrifice her act must have entailed. Did you ever think about the fact that had Rachel said something to Jacob, she would have been right? According to Jewish law, she had every right to stop her soulmate from marrying the wrong woman. It would not have been lashon hora (slander) — it would have been self-protection. The thing is, just because something may be right, it may not be the right thing to do. Maybe according to Jewish law it would be kosher to tattle, but according to the Jewish heart, it would be so, so wrong. And Rachel won out in the end! She kept the shalom between herself and her sister, and she had the blessing of the greatest marriage with her husband Jacob. If she had said something to Jacob, maybe that breakdown of shalom with her sister would have prevented her from realizing the blessings in her own life.
Let us stop this insanity in its tracks. Let us stop being right, and start being loving. Let us judge favorably and build trust with each other. Let us control the pandemic that is within our power — the one that is infecting our community with negativity and distrust. Let us rewrite Dickens to fit our times: It was the best of times, despite it being the worst of circumstances.
Have a wonderful Shabbat SHALOM, in every sense of the word,
PS Join me this week, whether you are a Mama or in pajamas, for some Parsha inspiration! Monday at 8:30 pm on zoom 🙂
Have a wonderful Shabbos,
PS Here’s the recipe I promised you!
Red Lentil Soup
6 cups chicken stock (you can use vegetable as well)
1 lb red lentils, rinsed
3 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
1 large onion, diced
1 T cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional, I use 1 tbsp dried)
3/4 cup lemon juice (or less if you don’t like it so tangy)
Boil the lentils in the chicken stock for 20 minutes. At the same time, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until golden. Add the onion mixture, the cumin, and the cayenne to the pot and cook for another half hour, or until lentils fall apart. At this point you can puree the soup a little with an immersion blender if you like. Stir in the cilantro and lemon juice, and enjoy!