Very few announcements this week – we are in the week of Passover, a time to eat the leftovers from our Seder meals (one of life’s mysteries: why when I cook for two people, do we still have enough leftovers for 12?) and a time perhaps to reflect on some of the questions and discussions we held at our respective Seders. Some of us were able to have small family Seders because we were now vaccinated – such hope in the air as a result. The last day of Passover is Sunday, April 4th. We will be holding a Yizkor service on Friday night, April 2nd.
A few comments on our Kolot Mayim Zoom Seder. Firstly, a welcome to those who joined us for the first time! What a pleasure to see big smiles and waves of welcome all around. We had two babies with us, due in good time, b’sha’ah tova; one big sister-to-be was very excited to find the afikomen in her not-yet-born sibling’s crib!! Ben Louwrier sang the Four Questions beautifully, again, setting the bar higher and higher for his ongoing learning. May we all be so inspired.
This week we continue our reading in the Book of Vayikra and read Shemini – the eighth day. Some of the greatest of our teachings about teshuvah come from these verses. In 9:7 Moses urges Aharon to approach the altar… and effect atonement for himself and the people Israel, but Aharon is reluctant. Rashi finds that his reluctance was because Aharon was still feeling guilt for his role in the making of the Golden Calf. But (through Rashi) Moses asks, “Why are you ashamed – this is the reason you were selected.”
We are all very good at rationalizing our behaviours, to avoid guilt and shame. Aharon didn’t do this – he faced directly into his actions. He took responsibility for himself. And he was ashamed. Teshuvah is found in stages – forgiving others – and, always the hardest, forgiving ourselves. Even if we truly repent, we may continue to carry a burden of guilt and of shame. However, if we don’t accept forgiveness – what else might we carry? A burden of sadness, or a debilitating dejection may haunt us.
The example of Aharon then is a most necessary example for us all. If Aharon, who was so central to the making of the Golden Calf, if he is to be forgiven – and then forgive himself? Dayeinu. If he allowed himself to then perform his duties as High Priest, believing he was fully forgiven by God? Dayeinu. If the people of Israel watched and saw this cycle of teshuvah in front of their eyes, and could then also forgive themselves? Dayeinu. So too, may we find it in our own hearts to know that such compassion always accompanies teshuvah.
Ken ye’hi ratzon, May it be so.
Love to all,