The New Shul

Parshat Vayigash

In this week’s parashah, Vayigash, Yaakov goes down to Egypt to be re-united with his son Yosef, and to wait out the famine with his family. As Yaakov prepares to leave his home (which he will return to only after his death), God promises Yaakov in a dream that God will go down to Egypt with him, and return with him.

The talmudic sages understood that promise to mean that, as long as we are in exile, God is in exile too. God will never be at home until we are. God does not — perhaps cannot — save us from descending into dark places. But as long as we are in those places, God is as well.

There is both good news and bad news in that. The bad news is that God does not prevent bad things from happening. Times of darkness are a part of life. The good news is that, even when our circumstances make us feel abandoned, we are not. God is always present, even in the darkest places. If we can just keep our hearts open, we can draw on deep wells of strength.

Often, when people are struggling, we wonder what to do or say. We wish that, in some God-like way, we could fix the situation. But the sages remind us that even God does not fix situations. Instead God strengthens us by being present with us wherever we are. That is how we help others as well — not by trying to solve problems that we cannot solve, but by offering them the strength that comes with knowing that they are not alone.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush-lunch this Shabbat, January 4, will be sponsored by the Gumpright family in honor of Dan’s, Yona’s, Noah’s and Lexi’s birthdays.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon.
  • This Shabbat afternoon, January 4, after kiddush, Janette Silverman will teach about “The Mysteries of Our Jewish Families,” based on her work in Jewish geneology.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm.