Behar Behoukotai

For the last several years, months weeks, we have been living through trying times as Jews!

Life is unusually hard these days. 

There are many things keeping us down. Even the weather this past weeks has been unusually depressing with a lot of rain.

What can we do to break freefrom our collective depression? 

Where do we find meaning in all of this uncertainty? 

How can we embrace and acknowledge the many gifts that surround us each day? 

How do we endeavor to live in world of optimism rather than despair?

I believe that 



and gratitude 

are keys that will unlock the doors of our captivity!

Our parasha teaches us clearly this week, 

"If you obey my laws I shall give you rains in their time. . .

and you will eat your fill of bread, 

and you will live in security in your land, 

and I shall grant peace in the land, 

and you will lie down with no one making you afraid. . . 

I will be ever-present in your midst, and I will be your G-d, and you shall be my people." (Lev. 26:3-6, 12). 

What a profound message of hope especially during these difficult days. 

Our history is full of prolonged periods of darkness. 

Yet through it all, the 

Jewish people have remained loyal, committed in their faith,

not only to G-d, 

but to one another!

Yet faith alone is not enough to draw us out of our depression. 

Hope is not found merely in the words we say. 

Action, too, lifts us up from our despair. 

We find hope in the simple, sacred acts we perform. 

Each time I see parents embracing their children, bestowing their blessing upon them, I find hope.

Each Shabbat I see congregants sitting sitting in the dining room , (sitting in the Shul ) sharing with one another the triumphs and tribulations of the previous week, gaining strength from one another, I find hope. 

Our liturgy declares, 

"May it be your will, Eternal One our G-d. . .that we discipline ourselves in Torah and devote ourselves to Mitzvot." 

Focusing on the good during troubled times, requires tremendous discipline. 

By devoting ourselves to sacred, selfless acts of loving kindness, by maintaining our humanity and our decency, we find rays of hope in our darkened world.

Our Shabbat morning ritual is filled with psalms of praise to G-d.  

By keeping G-D on our lips, we open ourselves to miracles. 

Words of gratitude, I believe, help relieve despair. 

Life is by no means perfect, 

and we may find much desperation. 

All the more reason, 


to find opportunities to celebrate the good in our lives, 

to discover things for which we should be grateful, for if we are not grateful for what we have, and how can we truly live and work in this world!