There are big events happening in our world. I know that you are, perhaps too familiar and too distressed about many of them. Attached below you will see a letter from the Boca Raton Interfaith Clergy Association and the call for a gathering for peace and tolerance.
But, there are not just events of human making taking place. There are also cosmic events happening. On Monday there is a natural event which we are all preparing for and haven’t witnessed for over forty years; a total eclipse of the sun. And Monday night, the moon will hide as we begin Rosh Chodesh Elul, a new Hebrew month.
In earlier times human beings did not have an understanding as to why natural phenomena like this happened. And so they would attribute events in the heavens to willful acts by God. Often, they saw these events as responses to human behavior.
In the Bible there are three occurrences describing solar eclipses. And each were reflective of God’s assertion of power. And the darkness seen was not only about Divine intervention, but a reflection of the darkness in man.
Today we know the astronomical reasons for the darkness that will be experienced. And, we might say that it is reflective of the darkness we are seeing around us. The expressions of hatred, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny are all manifestations of the dark side of the human soul. And we need to look at this and we need to confront it. In most cases it begins in each of us but it extends into our communities our nation and our world. We need to look at it and we need to act appropriately; through words and deeds, through political action and legislation, through law enforcement and learning.
We learn that acts of righteousness and learning bring light to our world. At the same time, we know the darkness of the eclipse will quickly give to way light; the missing moon will grow into a beautiful full moon; light will return and a new month will begin. It’s the month of Elul (aleph-lamed-vav-lamed) which our rabbis taught is an acronym for Ani L’Dodi V’Dodi Li; I am to my love as my love is to me.
There is a message in the natural world for all of us to learn. There will be dark times and there will be days of light. We need to hold on to hope. And we need to light the lights, candles, and act with expressions of love and understanding. We need to fight for justice and freedom to move this universe in the direction we cherish and, frankly need. We need to affirm hope and we need strength. And we have both.
Rabbi David Steinhardt