September 14, 2018


9.14.2018 Weekly Torah Portion

This week’s Torah Portion is Vayelech, “and he went.” This is a most appropriate Parsha for this Shabbat Shuvah. Moses went and spoke to the people and told them that Joshua was going to be their new leader. They already knew this, yet he wanted them to know that Joshua’s time to lead had come. This is a great teaching for those of us in leadership positions. We need to know when it is time to step down (it is not my time yet ) and how to imbue the new leadership with authority and spirit. For those of us who are parents it is a reminder that our children have to grow up, and we have to let go of “control” of their money, their choices, etc.
Who are your leaders? Whom do you lead? How do you let go of control when your leadership is no longer needed?

In this Parsha Moses tells us and Joshua separately to be strong, have courage and don’t be in abject fear of your enemies. He reminds us that God goes with us, doesn’t fail us and never forsakes us. What a statement! I find this to be in contrast to the way we translate part of the Shema Koleinu prayer on Yom Kippur. The translations that I have seen make it a plea to God to not fail us, not leave us and not forsake us. These translations fly in the face of what our Torah teaches and our experiences in the Torah. God cares for us and about us – we have to return this love by loving ourselves and others a little more each day of this new year!

On this Shabbat Shuvah I know it is imperative for all of us to reframe our thinking, be true to the wisdom and experience of our ancestors and relate to God as God, Moses and Torah are teaching us. We are the ones who lose strength and courage. We forget that within us, as last week’s Parsha taught, we have all of the wisdom and paths to wholeness and redemption. Within us are the paths to sacred living. We all can access these paths through the actions of prayer, tzedakah, t’shuvah, study and holiness that are within us. Each one of us is a child of God and therefore, as our liturgy reminds us, children of the Sovereign of the Universe. This means we are all princes and princesses! We all are members of the Royal family.
How can you remember your unique path of wisdom? What do you need to do each day/week to continue your path of redemption? How are you going to continue to be part of and add your strength to our Royal family?

We all have the responsibility to bring the Sacred back into our daily living. We can do this through living our holiness a little more each day. We can do this by remembering that we are all part of God’s family. We can do this by caring for the stranger, the widow, the poor, and the orphan in our communities and inside of ourselves. We can do this by not blaming God for forsaking us, rather, staying true to God and not forsaking God, others, and ourselves through selfishness, pettiness, and personal gain. We can do this by not standing idly by when others are not honoring themselves and/or others. We can do this by setting a practice of mindfulness through daily study and prayer with others. We can do this by having a Spiritual Guide and spiritual friends that reflect our soul, uniqueness, and strength back to us.
What are the ways you are going to recapture the Sacred in your daily life this year? How can you stay true to God and your soul’s calling this year? What do you need from your family and community in order to stay strong and have courage this year?

GMar Hatima Tova, may we all seal ourselves in the book of Good Living this year.
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Mark