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Living in Sync 

01/03/2022 08:37:55 AM


Rabbi Berk

As Jews we have accustomed ourselves to living with, in, and within at least two very different but very similar aspects of life. For example, Jewish Americans live within two cultures (American and Jewish), live with two languages (English and Hebrew…and Yiddish), and live in two calendars: the Gregorian, secular calendar (January, February, and so on,) and the Jewish, Hebrew Calendar (the month of Tishrei in which the High Holy Days fall, the month of Nisan in which Passover occurs, and so forth). It is this calendrical aspect of our Jewish lives which recently stirred my interest.

Because the Hebrew calendar is what is called a ‘lunisolar’ calendar, we thankfully enjoy seasonal holiday synchronization, always observing the High Holy Days in the fall, always celebrating Passover in the spring, and always lighting the Hannukah Menorah in the winter. But... there is rarely more exact synchronization between the two – hence our often-repeated expression of a Jewish holiday coming “early” or “late” this year. And while all that remains true with our secular calendar’s start of 2022, I couldn’t help but be delighted as I noticed something approximating some element of synchrony between the beginning of 2022 and our yearly cycle of Torah Portion readings.

As this calendar year of 2021 ends with the conclusion of December and 2022 begins with the arrival of January, so too are we in the Jewish world also beginning something anew… in Synagogues, Jewish homes, and schools all across the world, Jews will have just begun our weekly reading of the Torah’s second book, the book of Exodus. What might we learn from such an unexpected way of beginning both the secular year as well as a book of the Torah?

Just as Exodus retells the seminal account of God inspiring, instructing, and empowering Moses to lead his fellow Hebrew People out of Egyptian slavery toward both freedom to worship the one God and to bring into being the establishment of a new people with and within their own land, the Land of Israel. So too might we consider the beginning of a new secular year to be an especially auspicious opportunity to bravely go forth to new horizons, leaving behind all that restricts us, all that keeps us from evolving into who we so desperately want and need to be become: better versions of ourselves.

As we begin living the year 2022 and studying the Book of Exodus, let us embrace this fortuitous calendrical coincidence and stir ourselves out of complacency, leaving 2021 and all that should stay behind us, while courageously venturing on our own personal Exodus toward a more promising and rewarding future. Let us do just that.Update this content.

Wed, May 22 2024 14 Iyyar 5784