Rabbinic Reflections: Issue 58

Reaching the Promised Land

March 26, 2021

Dear Holy Friends,

As we approach Shabbat and the start of Pesach, I hope this correspondence finds you doing well and in good health.

In the spirit of the Joy of Pesach, allow me to share some thoughts, humorous and otherwise, with you.

Did you know that the horseradish root goes back in time as far as matzah? In fact, the horseradish root crossed the Red Sea with the fleeing Israelites. The Israelites were in a rush to leave Egypt and only had access to but a few vegetables. The hard and woody horseradish was one of them as it was a household staple.

Nearly all the fleeing Israelites took horseradish with them. Moshe and Sadie, however, while gathering up their scant belongings, found to their dismay, that they had run out of horseradish. Sadie immediately sent Moshe into the field to dig up a large horseradish root to take with them. However, because it was dark and everyone was running around in panic, Moshe dug up a ginger root by mistake.

After forty years in the desert, the Israelites finally entered the Promised Land – all, that is, except Moshe and Sadie. It took them forty-one years to arrive. When asked where they had been, Sadie, now grown old, shrugged her shoulders and replied, "Moshe insisted on taking an alternative root."

With all due respect to Moshe and Sadie referenced above, I was reflecting on the alternative route that all of us have taken to arrive at this year’s Seder meal and Passover celebration.

While the past year has certainly been filled with challenges, trials, and tribulations, we, as a Kehilla Kedosha (a holy community), have all had to explore paths never before traveled.

Each Shabbat, we have managed to come together as a community to observe the Sabbath, see each other, daven together, and be uplifted by melody and inspiring words of Divrei Torah.

During Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur, we navigated for the first time a live-stream service with a physical minyan in the sanctuary. We utilized modern technology to produce the service from three different locations, while also integrating pre-recorded videos of songs of prayer.

Our extensive adult education programming has been wildly successful as we hosted a “quasi-Jewish film festival,” interviewed eclectic authors, learned from Jews of atypical family backgrounds, and were uplifted by the soaring voices of Superstars of Jewish Song, all using the Zoom platform.

Individually, our alternative routes may have included quarantine, isolation, mastering Zoom-technology, adjusting to social-distancing protocols, and re-inventing ourselves professionally.

So, on this Shabbat, as we prepare to sit around our Seder tables, and recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu, we should take time to acknowledge our collective resilience, our magnificent malleability, and our strength of faith during such a challenging epoch.

As the generation of the Exodus learned from their experiences, eventually reaching the Promised Land, I pray that each of us will be offered the opportunity to reflect and be grateful and that this year we will all reach our own Promised Land, filled with blessings, health, joy and freedom.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,

Rabbi Eric L. Wasser, EdD
201 562 5277

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