Rabbi’s Bi-Monthly Message
(from the Newsletter)
“A Pandemic, the Month of Elul and Searching our Heart”
By Rabbi Barney Kasdan
The roller coaster ride continues! Even six months later, we all continue to feel the effects of this tenacious enemy of Covid-19. Our heart goes out to so many families (some we know personally) who have been hit with the health repercussions. Many families (most everyone) has been adversely impacted by the economic challenges. Add to this an extended quarantine, social unrest and mental health stresses that these months have placed on us and most of the world. I hope everyone is keeping strong and in the right focus! With God’s help, we will all get through these challenges and even come out better because of them. We are blessed that San Diego is at this moment moving the right direction with increasing openness in our community. Let’s continue to help each other and our larger community.
In the midst of all this shpilkes/anxiety, we in the Jewish community find some much-needed relief in the current month of Elul. Albeit this may not be in the form of physical health or guaranteed financial blessing but in a higher source known as shalom. Elul, being the month preceding the High Holy Days, offers a time every year to prepare our hearts and refocus on what is truly most important. While the world (and even many “believers”) are frantically trying to figure out the best solutions to our current problems, those who seek biblical truth are reminded that a strong, personal relationship with God changes everything! You probably know that for the entire month of Elul and all the way until the end of Sukkot, our tradition exhorts us to read a particular passage every day: Psalm 27. Usually, this is a meditation to prepare our spirits for the general truth of the Holy Days but I think this pandemic year it takes on even greater meaning. In the important opening verse, King David proclaims:
“The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; whom shall I fear?”
This verse is so deep that the midrash explains that the three parts of the declaration applies to the three parts of the Fall Holy Days. “The Lord is my Light” is said to refer to the truth of Rosh Hashanah. “The Lord is my Salvation” is applied to the promise of Yom Kippur. “Whom shall I fear” is the resultant shalom that comes at the closing holy day of Sukkot (Midrash Tehillim 27). For some 3000 years Psalm 27 has been a great source of inspiration and shalom in the midst of some intense trials. Our people have somehow survived foreign conquests, destruction, pogroms and even genocide. I would suggest that the key to it all is embedded in the middle phrase “The Lord is my Salvation (Adonai Yishi)” from the root word of Messiah’s Name; Yeshua! So here we are, still in the midst of a pandemic. We Messianic Jews, Jews of faith, Christians and anyone else who seeks some greater help can reminded through this month of Elul to search our hearts. Thankfully, King David reminds us all that God has always been faithful to deliver those who walk by faith and not by sight. As we continue in the month of Elul, may God reveal more of His truth and deliverance through our righteous Mashiach Yeshua!