Shavua tov, everyone,

We had a wonderful Hanukah party on Friday night, December 13th – a packed house, lots of wonderful singing and good food. A big thank you to Leah Kinarthy, Deb and Richard Weiss, Carolyn Hergt and Sam Margolis who helped make the evening very special. And a very big thank you to Amber Woods and Gary Cohen for their music which was really a highlight for our celebration. Hanukah begins the evening of December 22nd with our lighting a first candle. A candle of hope.

This week we are in Vayeshev, where we begin the Joseph saga. Joseph is the much-favoured son of Jacob. Yet again we read of the consequences of favouring one son over the other. Just as in our own lives the consequences that may seem so terrible in the short term often have a long term result that we could not have imagined, never mind foreseen. Vayeshev is yet another story of journey culminating in Jacob taking his family down to Egypt.

But darkness has already descended on this family – the darkness of hate and silence. When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him, veloyachludabro le-shalom (37:4). The brothers literally could not speak to their brother in peace – their hearts were too full of hatred and jealousy.

When do we find ourselves retreating into silence because we can’t admit to our feelings – when we feel our feelings will not be heard? When our feelings shame or embarrass us? What damage can evolve from such silence – sometimes, sadly, for decades?

Our tradition teaches us over and over the power of our words – the proscription against lashon-ha’ra – evil tongue or gossip being one of our primary teaching. But how do we do the work of teshuvah without words? We need to communicate with each other, tell each other what we are doing with emet, with truth, and only then can we bridge the gaps between us. Speaking words, conversation, questions – these are lighting candles of hope as well. May we all take an opportunity this Hannukah, as needed, to add a few words of reconciliation, of comfort, of love to our inner hannukiah, that source of light within each of our souls.

Wishing you a very joyous Hannukah, 5780,

Koltuv, dear friends.

Rabbi Lynn