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After Thirty Days

Abraham goes to bury Sarah. He has seemingly been caught unaware, with no plans. He lacks even a gravesite for her and has to go to the people of the land, the Canaanites, to buy a place. His life partner, the woman with whom he changed the world, is no more. She had been such a large part of his life that even though neither of them are young he could not imagine a world without her in it. She had been healthy and well. He sits and mourns for her, broken and alone, unready.

Last week was the shloshim, the 30th day, after the tragedy of October 7th. Since October 7th, there have been so many people burying loved ones. They were caught unaware and unready. Who thought as their 20-something daughter went to a music festival in the South that this would be the last time they would see her? Who imagined when they said goodbye to their friend in the Kibbutz that they would kidnapped or murdered? No one knew it was the last kiss or hug, the last argument, or the last goodbye. How could they?

Even until today, there are still funerals. As the army finds remains and identifies them, they are returned to families who have been waiting in agony for burial. They are returned to families who finally can mourn, cry, and lay their loved ones to rest. They are returned to families for funerals that no one ever expected or imagined.

We are still in mourning. Thirty days may have passed, but we are still heartbroken. We are still in need of comfort and love. Yet we are all hurt and experiencing loss. This makes it hard to find the comfort we need because we are all emotionally drained. This loss awakens many feelings, including hurt, abandonment, and anger. They are a reaction to the loss, both its tragedy and its shock. Yet we must guard against those feelings leading us to overreact.

I am amazed by what Abraham does when he gets up from mourning. The very next thing he does is prepare for the future. He wants Isaac to have a life of joy and blessing. He wants Judaism with all its ethics and practices to continue because he knows it will help nurture the world. He sends his servant to find Isaac a life partner who can strengthen him and bring him joy and comfort.

As we begin to arise from mourning, we too are called upon to prepare for the future. We have a responsibility now to ensure that our children, our relatives, and loved ones, will have a future filled with blessing, joy, and comfort. There are grandparents now raising their grandchildren and doing the best they can to provide them with love and a good home. There are aunts and uncles and friends taking on responsibilities for people who have no one else. All trying to find the strength even in their own loss and grief to bring hope into the lives of others.

We need to honor our sacred dead. We need to create meaning and hope and a future of blessing for our loved ones, the people of Israel, and indeed the whole world. We, the children of Abraham and Sarah and Isaac and Rebecca, must remember and mourn. Yet we also need to arise and become again God’s partner in bringing hope into the world.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi David Booth

Please note, CyberTorah will be on hiatus through the first of the secular year.

Sat, December 9 2023 26 Kislev 5784