Shabbat Message: Hope, Faith and Love are Not Cancelled; and Neither is Shabbat

Posted on April 17, 2020 by Rabbi Arnie Gluck

This week has been very painful, as losses have mounted. Loss during this crisis has come in many forms.  First and foremost, in the tragic and devastating loss of life. Our hearts go out in sympathy to all who mourn the passing of loved ones or friends, and we pray for the souls of the departed.

Other forms of loss may seem to pale in comparison, but they are nonetheless significant and painful. Some have lost their livelihoods and are struggling to provide for themselves and their families. To them we must provide succor and tzedakah, as individuals, as a community, and as a nation. If you are in need, please reach out to me so we can help as we are able.

Others have been forced to postpone or cancel significant life events from graduations to great adventures, and lifecycle celebrations such as weddings, b’nei and b’not mitzvah ceremonies, confirmations, birthday and anniversary celebrations, and so much more.

This has been a week of cascading cancellations and deepening disappointments as our horizons have been narrowed and our freedom of movement and interaction has continued to be curtailed by the spread of the coronavirus. In one form or another, all of us are experiencing grief. All of us are mourning losses. All are in need of healing.

Among those who have fallen prey to this terrible virus is our neighbor and friend Margit Feldman z”l who survived Auschwitz and a death march before being liberated from Bergen Belsen. Margit lost most of her family in the Holocaust, but she never lost hope. She emerged from the depths of evil with her faith intact and went on to be an inspiring teacher, an advocate of Holocaust remembrance, and a role model of resilience. Her kind, loving presence has left an indelible mark on me and on all those who were blessed to have known her.

Margit was buried today by a small circle of her family, but her spirit lives on and has what to teach us at this time of trial. Whatever we may lose to this horrific pandemic, hope and faith and love will endure, and they will see us through whatever may come if we cling to them and are steadfast in our resolve, as Margit was. Let this be our banner, and let us hold it high, come what may.

Among the sources of strength and renewal that can help us to heal is the gift of Shabbat that will soon arrive. Shabbat is a sign between us and God that the world is God’s creation filled with goodness and love. Shabbat is a foretaste of the time in which our world will be perfected, and all will live in peace and harmony – a time of complete healing. As Shabbat arrives, mourners take off their torn garments to enter a time of transcendence in which death holds no sway.

Neither death nor the coronavirus cancels Shabbat. Shabbat cancels the dominion of death and fear and loss upon our souls, if we welcome it into our hearts and souls. So, as the sun sets, let us join together in warm embrace (whether physically or virtually) to feel deeply the love we need to calm our spirits and ease our pain. Much has been lost, but faith and hope and love will live in our hearts until healing comes.

May you be blessed with Shabbat peace and joy and rest.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Arnie Gluck