It was 1976 and I’d been alienated from Temple life for 20 years. Not that my parents didn’t try: they insisted my family and I come with them every year to High Holidays, and then lovingly guilt-tripped me into joining a synagogue “for the sake of the children.”
In this season of gift giving, it’s good to remember that one of the best gifts we can give doesn’t cost money or come wrapped with ribbons. It is the gift of a blessing — a prayer for well being.
In this week’s Torah portion (Vayechi), Jacob — now called Israel — blesses Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Menasheh.
Life is never simple, and the struggle to overcome fear and be a better person is a continuing journey of wrestling so that holy Light may prevail. We see that clearly in this week’s Torah portion, Vayishlach.
Our forefather Avram had his name changed by G!d to Av-raham, father of multitudes. His life was not easy. At age 75, he heard G!d telling him to leave his home, and that “in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Gen. 12:3).
What kind of light was this that our Creator brought forth on the first day, before the sun was created? That primordial light is the light that permeates all creation, that enlivens the cells in our bodies, gives us the “enlightenment” of consciousness, motivates us to do good, and fills our hearts with love.