Torah Tidbits

In Search Mode

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Shabbat Zakhor

February 28, 2015 – 9 Adar 5775

Dear Friends,

The light of the Menorah described in our weekly Torah portion of Tetsaveh points to our very human need to light up our surroundings so that we can better know how to take the next step in life.  The Menorah was placed in the Tabernacle, ostensibly for God, although our Sages clearly understood that God does not require the light of a lamp in order to see.

The Menorah in the Tabernacle represented God’s desire for us to shine a light on God’s guiding presence in our lives.  For our Sages, that guiding presence was most powerfully experienced as the wisdom of Torah that helped them, and that helps us today, to navigate the complex journeys of our lives.

The Sages understood that we are all in search mode.  We need light to see our options and to choose wisely.

This Shabbat we will read the special maftir reading for Shabbat Zakhor: a brief passage about Amalek. We recall the people who, though unprovoked or physically threatened by our journey, set out to destroy us. But, even as we recall that incident, we are challenged to work toward a world in which such wanton evil is no longer a reality.  We are reminded that we are in search of ways in which we can partner with God and with human partners dedicated to enhancing respect for the dignity and well-being of all.

Shabbat Zakhor is a prelude to our celebration of Purim, this coming Wednesday night and Thursday.  On Wednesday night, we will read the Megillah [Scroll of Esther].   We will tell the story of one individual, Queen Esther, who was clearly in search mode all her life.  Despite her personal path, which took her far afield from Jewish community and life, Queen Esther was able to rise to the occasion.  She was there for our people when she was asked to stand up for them.  And, she was wise enough to ask the Jewish community to pray and to fast, in solidarity with her mission, before she took her life in her hands and, uninvited, approached King Ahashuerosh on behalf of the Jewish people!

A powerful part of the message of the Megillah is that we should never assume someone is lost to our community.  We should never write someone off because of their path seems to take them far afield.  Because, we are all in search mode.  We all need some light to help us figure out the next steps in our journeys.  And, we can all come back to the well of wisdom that is Torah to help us make our life choices.

Wishing you and your loved ones a Shabbat Shalom and a very happy Purim!

Rabbi Gilah Dror