Guvult, as my grandmothers would say.
Firstly, I want to address mental health. I recommend admitting if and how the past six weeks in particular have impacted your personal and our collective mental health. In my experience it is important for finding more wellness and health. And, I am not a mental health expert. I am a pastoral counselor and partially trained chaplain and rabbi. Please seek out mental health support and if you need support in affording that urgently, please do not hesitate to reach out (as for any life cycle emergency) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our mental health, as Rivka's did, matters.
For her unhealed trauma – of being sent away by her parents with a stranger to marry a man she had never met, her first cousin, himself a survivor of parental abuse – perhaps led her to be complicit in familial deceit and helping fulfill G-d's foretelling that her sons were destined to be the fathers of ever-warring nations. (See Genesis 24 and its context)
But these ever warring nations might be different than the ones you'd expect. This is not Israelites and Amalek, for example. No, this is Ya'akov/Yisrael (Jacob/Israel) and Eisav/Eidom (Esau/Edom). Edom is used as a euphemism throughout the Talmud as a code word for Rome, the ultimate expression of what today we might call “the West” or, perhaps, “Empire.”
So what does this have to do with expanding our circles, rabbi? Well, I'm glad you asked. Thank you.
This coming week is a “holiday” that is simultaneously an acknowledgement and commemoration of genocide in the US. Despite what Thanksgiving actually marks, I recognize that many people get together with community, friends, and family, often different from those we hang out with most other days of the year. We may find ourselves at tables with people whom we do not know as well as we'd like. For this, here is some advice I recorded this morning.
May we find ways to center ourselves, be strong and resilient, and perhaps overcome our trauma to interact with one another with love and connection, even when we at times bitterly disagree. Let’s hold onto one another as we broaden our circles in the coming week.
Shabbat shalom and shavua tov to follow - may this shabbat be fuel for the week ahead.