May 7, 2020


5.8.2020 Weekly Torah Portion

If your journey through this new age of Zoom, this moment of pandemic and quarantine, is anything like mine, it’s had some notable ups and downs.  From shock to confusion to gratitude to outright rebellion against reality, I have experienced a huge range of emotions since this historical moment began.  And this week, like each week since this has started, has come with its own emotional gamut – its new ideas and themes and ways of coping.

This week, as businesses begin to open nationwide, as we begin to venture out of our homes, I am starting to think both about aspects of our routines that will (hopefully!) resume, and about aspects of our lives that will not go back to “normal” any time soon.  A study partner of mine is planning to attend a Jewish learning workshop based in New York from the comfort of their home in Seattle – now that all the classes have moved to Zoom-only.  A yoga teacher with whom I used to practice in person has now launched not just a series of classes but an entire teacher training over Zoom, setting herself up to teach to students at home at least through the middle of the summer.  In my own experience, I am past the moment of wondering “when is this is going to end?” and moving towards a greater acceptance of the reality that we are in this for the long haul… at least, for the long-ish haul.  And this acceptance, much to my relief, is making it easier to cope.

“Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today,” we read in the Big Book (p. 417).  “When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me.”  Our day to day reality is very different than it was a short time ago.  The transition felt sudden.  And now, our way of life is different than it used to be.  “I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”  When I spend less time attempting to battle reality – a fight I, of course, cannot win – I am more available to think about the ways I need to adapt, the ways that I am called to be of service, in this unique time.  Acceptance shifts my mindset, allows me to begin anew, gives me another chance.

This week in the Jewish calendar, we have a holiday based on the idea of another chance – Pesach Sheni, or Second Passover.  In the times of the Torah, one year after we had been freed from slavery in Egypt, there were some people who weren’t able to bring the Passover offering on the day of Passover itself; they missed the holiday.  Instead of giving up on Passover for a whole year, they asked Moses for a second chance to celebrate (Numbers 9:6-7).  Ultimately their request was granted, and one month late, they brought their Passover offering.  This holiday is still on our calendar today, and while it is not widely observed, it carries an important message: we all deserve a second chance, an opportunity to change, a chance to do t’shuvah.  We can all change our ways; we can become different.

The week is drawing toward its end, as we move towards marking another Shabbat over Zoom and in quarantine.  The thoughts and feelings that I’ve had this week will continue to shift, as they always do.  Yet this week, I want to hold on to the feeling of second chance, of new beginning, that I am gaining through acceptance.  Whether or not I like our present reality, I can’t do anything to change it.  It is real, and I am a part of it.  And when I am fully in acceptance of these facts, I can begin to think about what I can do, what is in my power to shift, how I can best partner with reality to bring good to the world.

As we move into this Shabbat together, may we all be blessed to receive our own unique guidance about what we should do to best partner with reality.  May we be blessed with acceptance, the answer to so many of our problems today.  And may we be blessed to bring good into our own lives, into our families and communities, and into the world.

Good Shabbos!

Rabbi Miriam