Shabbat Parashat Vayeshev Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh What’s Next? December 16, 2022 – 23 Kislev 5783

Dear Friends,

Twice in our Parsha, we read the words: “Vayehi achar ha-devarim ha-eleh [And it happened after these events that…]” (Genesis 39:7; Genesis 40:1).  Twice in our Parsha, we move from one scandalous event to another.  And, these words suggest that there is a link between the event that preceeds them and the new story that comes next.

Why do some notable stories seem to emerge right after another notable event?

Some say that we learn from this that one scandalous headline fades away just as soon as we find another scandalous story to follow.  We seem to look for sensational stories, time after time.  It is as if we, human beings, generate one sensational story after another simply by our constant interest in and anticipation of what scandal is going to come next….

We, who believe in the possibility of tikkun olam [repairing the world] and who dream of a better, more equitable and more peaceful world, can take this thought to heart and focus on the future in a more constructive way.  And, our Jewish tradition helps us to move in that direction!

How so?

This Shabbat we will recite the blessing of the new Jewish month.  Rosh Chodesh Tevet will be on next Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday.  We pray that this month will bring us blessing and fulfillment.  Focusing on the blessings that might well evolve in the coming days will help us to envision the good that is possible, rather than envisioning the next sensational negative developments.  Judaism teaches us that “newsworthy” includes reminding ourselves to look for the potential for good in our lives.

Of course, this new Jewish month’s arrival also signals to us that Chanukah is about to begin, as well!  This coming Sunday evening, December 18th, is the start of Chanukah and specifically, the first night of candle lighting for Chanukah.  I look forward to seeing you all at City Center at 6 pm on Sunday night, for the Community Candle Lighting!  And, on the following Tuesday, RST is lighting the Menorah at 6 pm at City Center.  Both of those evenings promise to be lots of fun!

So, when we ask ourselves: What’s next?  Let our imaginations take us to something good!

Let’s enjoy this Shabbat, the coming month of Tevet, and all of Chanukah, in good health, in good company, and in good spirits, and may we envision many good events to follow…!

Shabbat Shalom and a very Happy Chanukah to you and to your loved ones!

Rabbi Gilah Dror