Rabbi Sherman’s Weekly Torah Commentary – January 8-9, 2021

January 8-9, 2021                                                                               Parashat Shemot

25 Tevet 5781                                                                                     Shabbat Mevarkhim hachodesh

Only when we have truly heard someone can we hope to help them. Helping, and other acts of compassion, requires empathy. In the Book of Exodus, we read about divine empathy. The Divine Voice says: “I am mindful of their suffering” (3:7); “the cry of the Israelites has reached me” (3:9); and “I hear your outcry, I have taken note of you and I will act to redeem you” (3: 16).

The biblical commentators wondered why this expression of empathy is repeated three distinct times. According to Ibn Ezra, the Eternal One can see and hear everything, even the pain of the heart. Rabbeinu Bachya ben Asher teaches that the heart can only become aware of suffering after intentional seeing and listening. Thus, the three verses are intended to teach that in order to alleviate someone’s suffering, we must truly see and hear that person’s pain. Empathy can lead us to compassion and to compassionate action.

For Reflection: When did someone truly hear your pain and help alleviate it?

Prayer for Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine

We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the COVID vaccine to improve our lives and our world. We are grateful to the scientists who made it possible and to the health workers who will make it available to us. Today I am sending you a prayer you might like to offer when receiving the vaccine. You may keep this in your apartment, or bring it with you when you receive the vaccine.

Shabbat Mevarkhim Hachodesh

This Shabbat we bless the new month of Sh’vat, which will begin Wednesday night.
The holiday of Tu BiShvat, the New Year for the Trees, is the 15th of the month of Sh’vat.

Please join in this week’s Shabbat celebrations on Channel 1960:

Friday at 4:30 PM: Kabbalat Shabbat & Ma’ariv (Evening Service) & Blessings

Saturday at 10:00 AM: Shabbat Shacharit (Morning Service) & Blessings

 Candle lighting time for the city of Mission Viejo:
Friday evening at 4:41 PM
Shabbat ends Saturday evening at 5:40 PM

Shabbat Shalom!                                                                                Rabbi Sherman