Shabbat Shemini/Parah 5779

This has been a painful and traumatic week for our entire community, as we are left reeling by the tragic passing of our rabbi and teacher, Rabbi Kessler. In my eulogy on Tuesday morning, I referenced the story from this week’s Torah reading, Parshat Shemini, of the sudden deaths of Nadav and Avihu, Aharon’s two eldest sons. I also mentioned that finding the words for the eulogy for a colleague was not easy for me. I am grateful for your support as we go together through the process of communal grieving and comforting each other.

In the past two weeks, I have spent time nurturing my mind, soul, and communal concerns among hundreds of colleagues. One week, I studied Torah at Hadar’s Rabbinic Yeshiva Intensive program; the next, I was at AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference and the Shabbaton that preceded it. I do this work because rabbis draw strength from other rabbis, and I am no exception. It’s not just that we exchange ideas of what to teach and preach; we support one another through laughter and commiseration, when necessary. Sometimes, when we wonder what to say, someone else’s words fit perfectly.

The sages teach that “one who brings a word of Torah in the name of the one who [first] said it brings redemption to the world” (Bavli Megillah 16a). On Shabbat morning, I will bring the words of one of my most admired friends and respected teachers, in an attempt to give voice to our pain and redeem our brokenness. 

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom,

 Rabbi David Wise