Rabbinic Reflections: Issue 11

May 14, 2020

Dear Holy Friends,

We hope and pray that this correspondence finds you in good health and managing our difficult circumstances. I want to remind you to feel free to call me or email me at any time, and to share your experiences, theological questions and even, to ask, how we, as your community, can support you! If you know anyone experiencing health issues, please allow us to pray for them. If you know someone who needs our support, please contact me or the dedicated officers of our shul.

Can we take a detour, that is less intense? Can we learn from different life scenarios, some less serious than COVID?

As many of you know, I grew up in Toronto, Canada, as an avid hockey fan (of course!). Saturday nights and Wednesday nights were the national broadcasts of Hockey Night in Canada! Nobody went out, nobody ventured to restaurants or eating establishments. We all knew that the “normalcy” of the country was HOCKEY at home. I kid you not when I suggest that growing up at that time, the entire country was glued to either a television set or radio. After all, we grew up surrounded by the blissful sound of serrated sharp skates cutting on frozen arenas while bringing up shards of fresh cold ice.

Unbelievably, our world changed before 1980. The Toronto Blue Jays, an expansion major league baseball team, played their first baseball game ever on April 7, 1977 against the Chicago White Sox before a home crowd of 44,649. We had no idea what baseball was. It was way out of “our league.”

The game is now perhaps best remembered for the minor snowstorm which began just before the game started. And while the newspapers reported that the snow was just a “dusting”, I can guarantee you that it continued falling substantially throughout the first five innings. The Toronto Blue Jays won the snowy affair 9–5, led by Doug Ault's two home runs. We thought it was “cool” even if we did not know what a home run was! And then fifteen years thereafter, the Blue Jays won back-to-back World Series Championships. My wife, Rachel, always says that I jumped higher in response to Joe Carter’s walk off home run, then when our first child was born.

I share my personal sports biography as it is indicative of the fact that we know our world can change. New experiences and new opportunities present themselves to us in many forms. We can derive joy from places unknown to us previously and we can rejoice in new involvements. While we often feel most comfortable and at home within the memories of our early joys, we live in a world that offers us the chance for growth, pleasure, happiness, cheerfulness, and boundless love.

During the weekday morning prayers, we recite one of my favorite Jewish texts from Psalm 100. עִבְד֣וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה בְּשִׂמְחָ֑ה בֹּ֥אוּ לְ֝פָנָ֗יו בִּרְנָנה : Serve the LORD in gladness; come into His presence with shouts of joy! The Psalm concludes with the following statement: כִּי־ט֣וֹב יְ֭הֹוָה לְעוֹלָ֣ם חַסְדּ֑וֹ וְעַד־דֹּ֥ר וָ֝דֹ֗ר אֱמוּנָתֽוֹ׃ For the LORD is good; His steadfast love is eternal; His faithfulness is for all generations.

What a great way to start a day, with the adage to shout with joy. Perhaps we are meant to understand that whether we are watching hockey or baseball, whether we are at home or on the road, whether we are by ourselves or with others, and even if we are in shul or on zoom, our tradition wants us to be happy. Our tradition wants us to seek out blessings and joy. So, let us together enter this Shabbat with Simcha and song, laughter and smiles. We could all use it and we can all provide it: Hashem has put the power of joy in our hands and in our hearts!


Rabbi Eric L. Wasser

Tel: 201-562-5277

Please join us this Friday night at 7:00pm for our Kabbalat Shabbat service!

Please make sure to check out our online schedule of services posted here. All the zoom information is provided and hope to “see” you soon.