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"This too shall pass"

11/10/2021 03:31:51 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

During my first year of rabbinical school in Jerusalem, a group of friends and I bought rings engraved with Hebrew phrases. My best friend selected “Gam Zeh Ya’avor,” “This too shall pass.” I remember looking at her ring each day thinking, “What exactly does she want to pass?” It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to understand what this phrase meant.

For all of us at CBI, we have been waiting so patiently to gather in our beloved building. We waited for nearly 15 months to pray together, only to have to return to our bubbles during the rise in Covid cases in August and September. We waited nearly 19 months to see our Religious and Hebrew School students back in our building. We waited and waited and waited to hug our friends, to laugh together, to sing and pray. Finally, the week arrived that would re-open our building to the community. Finally, we would see our Religious School children gather to learn Hebrew and the traditions of our faith. Finally, we would return to our sanctuary.

And then, an 18-year-old filled with hate abruptly and quickly halted those precious plans. The pain of not being together for months became sharper, more intense, more palpable. The added injury of the fire to our sacred space has caused grief beyond comprehension.

But then, something amazing happened. We came together in our parking lot to celebrate Shabbat. We sang loudly, with immense pride, with joy and laughter. Children ran around with glow sticks and balloons, almost as though they were attending a concert. We did not let our pain deter us.

In a sense, this experience was much like that of our patriarch Jacob. In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Vayeitzei, Jacob flees to his mother’s home and meets the beautiful Rachel, the woman he wants as his wife. He makes a deal with Laban, his uncle, to work for 7 years to earn Rachel’s hand in marriage. He works. He toils in the sun. He wears himself out. And then, at last, after the long and exhausting wait, his wedding day arrives. Instead, he finds he has been tricked into marrying Leah, Rachel’s older sister.

I am sure that Jacob was angry. I am sure he was hurt. I am sure his frustration became overwhelming. But he did not let it overtake him. He worked for 7 more years. More toiling in the sun. More exhaustion. And at long last, the pain and suffering had passed. He met his bride Rachel under the chuppah, and their love extended well beyond the borders of their camp.

Like Jacob, we waited and worked and suffered, hoping that we could pray together soon. The moment arrived, only for our hopes to be dashed. But, like Jacob, we will continue to work. We will continue to gather as a community and wait for our sanctuary to be our safe, sacred space once again. We will be a stronger Kehilah Kedosha, holy community. Because all of this will pass.

Mon, February 6 2023 15 Sh'vat 5783