There's a midrash about the creation of the world (Kohelet Rabbah 3:11) that argues that the world, the world of the book of Genesis, our world, was not God's first draft, but rather, that the Holy Blessed One kept trying to get it right, creating world after world and destroying them, until God made enough tweaks and changes to be satisfied, leaving this world in place.
This week, it feels like we're caught in that cycle, only backwards. It seems as though the world is coming down around us, we see destruction at every turn, but we haven't yet figured out how to build our world again - and it's not clear when we will.
Truly, these past five days have been earth-shattering for Israel and for us as a Jewish community. Like so many of us, I have spent sleepless hours worried about my friends and loved ones living in Israel, watching in horror as people, some of them our very same friends and loved ones, mourn the unthinkable murder of a family member or neighbor, or search desperately for someone kidnapped by Hamas. We have held each other as we cried, as there is so much to cry about.
We have had our intergenerational trauma as a Jewish people reignited as many in the world spout moral equivalencies or are simply silent. We can't help but worry for our own safety as well, even as our eyes and hearts are across the world. We fear for the future of Israel, and for the future of peace, for the ability of all those who live in the land to be able to live lives of safety and calm.
Worlds destroyed. How do we rebuild?
I don't have a clear vision of how to answer that question, but I do know this: I was tremendously heartened to participate in the Baltimore community gathering Tuesday night held at Beth Tfiloh. More specifically -
There were just so many people there, people representing a broad swath of ages and affiliations. We sat together, sang together, prayed together, and listened together. That kind of united solidarity is rare in any Jewish community and it gives me hope that if we can stand together, then we can withstand this together.
Rabbi Rachel Sabath Beit Halachmi of Har Sinai Oheb Shalom spoke powerfully of her own experience as an Israeli citizen, of her anger, her grief, her personal losses, and her passionate wish for the children of Sarah AND the children of Hagar to find peace and security. She held multiple truths in tension and her words resonated deeply. She spoke with moral clarity about the evil of the Hamas attack and also with an emerging hope that there can be a way forward.
All of the community leaders who shared their own sentiments emphasized the need for us to be together with our communities and encouraged everyone present to come to shul this Shabbat, to connect in person with their community. Being with our community is a salve for our wounds. Seeing a number of folks from Chevrei during and after the event both lifted me up and strengthened my sense of belonging, as I hope it did for many of you.
So please, come to shul this Shabbat. Let's be together and hold each other up. Even though the world is still laying in pieces at our feet, and may continue to for some time, we can already begin to rebuild.