Shabbat Pesach VIII

Senior Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum at Kabbalat Shabbat services on April 22, 2022 / 22 Nisan 5782:

“How do we respond in a moment of total despair, when a realistic person would say there is no hope? 

Our job as Jews at that moment is to keep our eyes on the prize, to remember Sinai is waiting for us. We cannot let those moments of complete despair prevent us from remembering what we know to be true.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe writes—and this is very moving to me when a Jew is headed towards Sinai, and is confronted by hostile by a hostile or a default indifferent world—there is no choice but to go forward.

Our job in moments of complete despair is to go forward.

In the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s words, do another mitzvah exactly at that moment of despair. Do something. Exactly at that moment of despair, light the light of another soul. Or if we could extrapolate from the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s language, maybe into ours.

As we sit in those moments of our life, and Lord knows we are in one right now—where we feel like the Egyptian army is over there, and the water is over here, and what sane, realistic person would say there’s the possibility of a future spring—our tradition tells us to look forward toward the Sinai, toward the reality that we know exists, even if nobody can see it.

We have to keep bringing the light. We, each of us, have to make sure we’re taking care of the light that’s in every single person around us and doing all we can to keep that light lit. We have to keep going through that sea, that Yam Suf, understanding it’s a miracle. But that miracle only happens if we keep moving forward. The Yam Suf parts, we’re told, only when the first person moves forward.

That is the miracle of humanity, is to see something that’s not realistic. But we understand we’re looking at Mount Sinai. We’re keeping our eye on the prize. And we have to believe in the possibilities of a world that exists that no one can tell us they’ve seen before.

That’s the power, not just the faith in God, which I believe deeply in, but the faith in each of us as human beings and the power of us doing this together.

When we feel like we are in that moment of despair and the Egyptian Army is on one side, and the water to drown in is on the other side, we sing the song of the sea and we move forward.”

Senior Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum delivered this excerpt from her drashah at Kabbalat Shabbat services on April 22, 2022 / 22 Nisan 5782.

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