Comforting Those Who Mourn: Chayei Sara 2018

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

This Shabbat cannot, and will not, be like any other. It is the first Shabbat since the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Tonight and tomorrow, we will join congregations across the country for the AJC’s #showupforshabbat campaign, as a sign of solidarity and remembrance for those who perished in last week’s attack.

It is uncanny how often the Torah portion of the week speaks to the concerns of the moment, and this week, the portion of Chayei Sara is no exception:

“Isaac then brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her, and thus found comfort after his mother’s death.” (Genesis 24:67)

Responding to this verse, the Talmudic tractate of Sotah teaches us another verse from our portion: “The Holy One, blessed be He, comforted mourners, for it is written: ‘And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed Isaac his son’ (Genesis 25:11), so you must comfort mourners.”

This Shabbat, all of us are like Isaac, reeling from loss and facing an uncertain future. But as the Talmud teaches, all of us also must imitate the Godly role of comforting one another; we cannot wait for someone else to do it for us.

Being at synagogue this Shabbat won’t eliminate the ghastly hatred of anti-Semitism, nor will it erase the wounds felt across the Jewish world. But it will remind ourselves that hatred and pain will not define us, and that we can and will move forward when we lift one another’s spirits.

If you’re in Charleston, please join us for services at Friday, Nov. 2nd, at 6:00PM, and Saturday, Nov. 3rd, at 9:30AM. On Saturday, we’ll be pleased to hear several times from Danny Siegel, our Scholar-in-Residence.

Hope to see you there.

Shabbat Shalom!