B’reisheit: In the Beginning (Genesis 1:1)
These are the very first words of the Torah. With these words, a whole universe comes into being. A universe of endless possibility and great potential.
My heart is full this week at this new beginning we mark together as rabbi and congregation here at Temple Beth Sholom. This is a time that is brimming with hope and optimism, endless possibility and great potential.
Just as in the beginning of the Torah, God expresses hope and optimism by looking into the void and saying: “Let there be light. God saw that the light was good…” We too have our own opportunity to create a wondrous light for the Temple Beth Sholom, Orange County and larger communities around us by our actions and aspirations, our deeds and words, and our coming together in sacred partnership.
How appropriate that we celebrate this new rabbi-congregation relationship on our 4th of July weekend, when we commemorate our nation’s independence with fireworks lighting up the sky. Fireworks draw our eyes to the heavens. They are awe-inspiring and often take our breath away. Sometimes, they are even mysterious and magical, starting out as something slightly ordinary and becoming so extraordinary we are left speechless. (A small “pop” here, a little “sizzle” there, some slight bursts, and then all at once, perhaps a light-filled fireworks train chugging across the sky, with plumes of colorful firework smoke magically trailing from its chimney).
We hope that with our sacred work together, we will create awe and wonder for ourselves, our families, and all who are in our midst. Sometimes, what we do may seem ordinary on the surface. Yet the impact of our holy work may spark rays of light and “magic” that leave God’s indelible imprint on people’s hearts, minds and souls, in ways we may never even know.
As we begin the 4th of July weekend together as a community, we keep in mind that the freedom that we gained as Americans in the War of Independence came with great responsibility, to live up to the ideals we fought so hard to achieve. We still strive today to make those dreams a reality. Likewise, our new beginnings at TBS come with great hope and with great responsibility. So let this 4th of July weekend, remind us that the fireworks, the Shabbat candles, the glow and warmth we feel in our hearts at this moment are God’s voice, calling us to action. “And God saw the light, and it was good.” (Genesis 1:4)
As we are taught in Psalm 90:17
“May the favor of the Eternal Our God be upon us. Let the work of our hands prosper.“
I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you, learning about your special “sparks” and what is important to you and your connection to our TBS community. Over the coming days, weeks and months ahead, there will be many opportunities to join in small groups to meet me so I can hear your stories and you can learn more about me. Please click here for more information.
Rabbi Sharon L. Sobel
Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Sholom