Ki Teitzei

אֶ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ דֹּרֵ֣שׁ אֹתָ֑הּ תָּמִ֗יד עֵינֵ֨י יְהֹוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ בָּ֔הּ מֵֽרֵשִׁית֙ הַשָּׁנָ֔ה וְעַ֖ד אַחֲרִ֥ית שָׁנָֽה׃ {ס}        

We read in Parashat Eikev, a few weeks ago, “It is a land which your God looks after, on which your God always keeps an eye, from year’s beginning to year’s end.”

We think of these words as we welcome Stephen, Carolyn, and Nina into Judaism, and as we and give kavod, honour to Lis and Ariel as they stand, surrounded by beloved family and friends under their chuppah.

Beginnings are much anticipated; great joy and hope often accompanies those new beginnings – but this verse reminds us we are in the Presence of the Divine One at our endings as well as our beginnings – and certainly as well as in the middle of our days.

I thought of this verse when I saw a headline in the Times Colonist yesterday. Two photos of orca whales were approaching a young man, (who decided to move from the water to the shore line of Quadra Island). This young man was quoted as saying this encounter, “was a spiritual experience.”

Whilst acknowledging such – very rare – moments are indeed powerfully affirming of the oneness we live within, and profoundly spiritual in that oneness, I couldn’t help thinking about the potential for spiritual moments when we each come into the presence of the other.

Take a moment and imagine a recent encounter. Was it a spiritual moment for you? Does that encounter have to be utterly new and unique for us to see potential for our souls to feel blessed? Do we need to encounter an Orca to feel that awe, that yirah?

We have an acronym for Elul as we do the work to ready our souls for Rosh Hashanah:

אני לדודי ודודי לי

Ani l’dodi v’dodi li.

I am my beloveds and my beloved is mine.

In this land, where we share our homes with our beloveds, our city, our community, let’s also keep an eye out for each other, acknowledge the potential for spiritual surprise in our daily encounters, remember the Divine Oneness we live with and within. Not just in Elul, not just at this approaching New Year of 5783, but every day.

“It is a land which your God looks after, on which your God always keeps an eye, from year’s beginning to year’s end.”