Rabbi Sherman’s Weekly Torah Commentary – December 4-5, 2020 (19 Kislev 5781)

Darkness can be scary, and we are living in a dark time—literally and metaphorically. In a little more than two weeks, we’ll experience the shortest and darkest day of the year. And we all share a certain sense of dread over the pandemic, politics, our health and mental health, the climate crisis, racial injustices, and so much more. But the darkness will turn to light.

This week’s Torah portion asks us to think about the fears and doubts that plague us when we are surrounded by disease and darkness. Jacob struggles with an angel all night long and just before morning finally begs the angel: “Let me go, for dawn is breaking.” Rabbi David Kimchi (Provence, 1160-1235) suggests that the dawn is significant; while struggle and trouble are compared to darkness, dawn signifies rescue and renewed spirit. Dawn signals the coming light.

Soon, the lights of Hanukkah will illuminate our homes and our lives. A vaccine is coming, and with it, hope for the future. Our dawn will break, and our spirits will be lifted.

The first candle is Thursday, December 10. Be on the lookout for some Hanukkah treats!

More information to follow on Hanukkah candle lighting times.

Questions for Reflection

  1. What fears or struggles have plagued the darkness for you?
  2. Where have you found light, hope, and renewed spirit?

Please note changes in this week’s Shabbat celebrations:

Friday at 4:30 PM on Channel 1960
Shabbat Ma’ariv (Evening Service) with Cantor Fran Chalin of VITAS

Saturday at 10:00 AM on Channel 1963
Shabbat Shacharit (Morning Service) with Rabbi Elie Spitz and Congregation B’nai Israel in Tustin

Candle lighting time for the city of Mission Viejo:
Friday evening at 4:24 PM
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 5:22 PM

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Sherman