Monthly Archives: April 2017

On healing and second chances

Healing

A few days ago we entered into the new month of Iyar. Here’s my favorite teaching about the month of Iyar: its name is an acronym for something beautiful. Torah teaches that after the children of Israel crossed through the Sea of Reeds and reached the far shore, they sang and danced — and then, once they began their journey in the wilderness, they became afraid. What if there were no potable water for them to drink? What if there weren’t enough to nourish them in life’s journey?

So God instructed Moshe to throw a piece of wood into a stagnant pond, and the water became sweet. And then God offered one of Torah’s most beautiful reassurances, saying “I am YHVH your healer.” That’s the phrase we can see hidden in the name of the month Iyar: אני יה רפאך / I am God, your healer.

In the words of my friend and teacher Rabbi Yael Levy of A Way In:

Iyar is an acronym for this promise the Divine Mystery has made to us: I am your healer. On life’s journeys you will face the seas of struggle, celebration, fear and joy, and whatever comes, I am there to heal and guide you. (Exodus 15:26)

She continues:

Iyar is a month of second chances because the full moon of Iyar provides the opportunity to make up for something that has been missed. During Temple times, it was considered essential for a person’s spiritual and material wellbeing to compete a sacrificial offering for Passover. If circumstances kept someone from someone from making this offering, he/she was given another opportunity to do so on the 15th day of the month of Iyar.

Iyar says it is never too late — no matter what situation we find ourselves in, no matter how far away we have traveled from our intentions or goals, it is possible to find our way back.

Every life contains missteps and missed opportunities — times when we look back and realize we wish we’d chosen differently. If only I had reached out to that person then, instead of staying silent. If only I had walked through that door, instead of staying outside. If only I had said “I love you” while I still could. If only, if only.

Part of what it means to me to say that God is our healer is to say that God accompanies us into our second chances. I don’t have a time turner; I can’t actually go back in time to undo my mistakes, so that I could do then what I wish now that I had done. But Rabbi Levy points out that just as our ancestors were given the opportunity to offer the Pesach sacrifice late, we too can find opportunities to make up for where we missed the mark… and I think that’s one way that God can help us to find healing.

Illness and healing are major themes in this week’s Torah portion, Tazria-Metzora. Torah’s ancient paradigm of tamei and tahor, impure and pure — or charged-up with the energy of life and death, and absent that psycho-spiritual “electricity” — may not speak to us. But part of what I relearn from this Torah portion each year is that when one is sick, whether physically or emotionally or spiritually, one may feel exiled from the community. Cut off and isolated. “Outside the camp” in an existential sense: alone even when surrounded by other human beings.

And in those times God comes to us and reminds us אני יה רפאך — I am God, your healer. I am the One Who is with you in sickness and in health, the One Who accompanies you even when you feel most existentially alone.

When we are sick and feel isolated, the One Who Accompanies is with us. And when we are sick at heart because of the places where we missed the mark, the One Who Accompanies is with us too. May this month of Iyar be a time when our second chances gleam bright before us, so we can find healing in making amends, and making new choices, and remembering that — as Rabbi Levy teaches — no matter how far we’ve strayed from where we meant to be, it’s never too late to find our way back.

 

This is the d’var Torah that Rabbi Rachel offered at services this morning. (Cross-posted to Velveteen Rabbi.)

Shavua tov; looking forward to Shabbat Tazria-Metzora

Shavua tov — a good new week to you!

Join us on  Shabbat morning at 9:30am for Shabbat morning services.

This week we’re reading Tazria-Metzora. If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, here are a few:

And here are commentaries from the URJ: Tazria-M’tzora at the URJ.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel

This just in: contemplative Shabbat this weekend

Here’s an addendum to this week’s post about Shabbat services:

This Shabbat (April 22)

the CBI Spiritual Life committee

and Rabbi Rachel

invite you into a deep, sweet Shabbat

of contemplation and chant

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Contemplative Shabbat Morning Service

April 22 / 26 Nisan, 9:30am

Join us in going deep into silence and song.

Though we will be praying only selected “pearls” from the liturgy,

we will recite mourner’s kaddish in full.

Shavua tov, moadim l’simcha, looking forward to Shabbat Shemini!

Shavua tov — a good new week to you!

And: moadim l’simcha — wishing you a festival of rejoicing on these days of Pesach!

Monday is the seventh day of Pesach, the day when tradition says we crossed the sea. (For more on this, see: The seventh day: crossing the sea.) Join us at 10am for a short meditative and poetic service with Yizkor led by Rabbi Pam Wax, a chance to remember our beloved dead.

Also join us on  Shabbat morning at 9:30am for Shabbat morning services. This week we’re reading Shemini. If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, here are a few:

 

And here are commentaries from the URJ: Shmini at the URJ.

Wishing everyone a sweet and liberating continuation of Pesach —

Rabbi Rachel

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Pesach and to Shabbat Shirah!

Shavua tov — a good new week to you.

Join us on  Shabbat morning at 9:30am for Shabbat morning services led by Rabbi Lori Shaller.

This week is Pesach, so our Torah reading will be the reading for the Shabbat which falls during Pesach. It will also be Shabbat Shirah (the “Shabbat of Song”)! If you’d like to read some commentaries on Torah and Pesach, here are a few:

Hopefully you’ve already RSVP’d for tomorrow night’s Second Night Community Seder. If not, please do so immediately — we’ve already set up tables (thank you Jen Burt!) and we need an accurate count.

If you’re still looking for a haggadah for Pesach, here is a link to mine, which is available as a free download: Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach.

Wishing everyone a sweet and liberating Pesach —

Rabbi Rachel

The April 2017 / Nisan 5777 CBI Newsletter is now online!

The April 2017 / Nisan 5777 CBI Newsletter is now online!
 
In this month’s newsletter you’ll find Notes from the Rabbi, service times for Shabbat, the President’s Column, remembrances of Purim, a write-up on Hebrew school activities and adult education programs, information about upcoming speakers on the refugee crisis, and more.

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Tzav

Shavua tov — a good new week to you.

Join us on  Shabbat morning at 9:30am for Shabbat morning services led by Rabbi Pam Wax.

This week we’re reading Tzav. If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, here are a few:

And here are commentaries from the URJ: Tzav at the URJ.

Many thanks to our shamashim, the members who host our Shabbat services each week. If you would like to join that group, please contact the office.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel