Last week, I promised to share a few stories about some of the influential people that have defined the past 13 years. This being said, I turn my weekly post over to the person who has influenced me the most, my wife, Rabbi Cheryl Jacobs.
Every Friday you expect to receive an inspiring message from your amazing rabbi…but you never really specified WHICH rabbi it should come from, so I asked Rabbi Andrew to step aside this week and allow me to write the weekly message to you.
This week, the invitations went out asking you to join together with our congregation on March 29th as we celebrate Rabbi Andrew’s, and by extension, all of us Jacobs’ thirteenth year at Ramat Shalom. It is truly amazing to sit back and think about how much has happened and how we have all grown over the past 13 years as a congregation and as a family. It is hard to believe that it was 13 years ago when Andrew said to me on a walk through our neighborhood in White Plains, NY, “What would you think about moving to Florida?” I will be honest and tell you that I was dead set against the idea. We had a new baby and our entire family was north of Virginia. We didn’t know a soul in Florida and the thought of moving down here was terrifying, but Andrew fell in love with this congregation and I was in love with my husband, so we made the move and the rest, as they say, is history.
I won’t offend you by pretending that everything has been perfect over the past 13 years. For sure, there have been hiccups along the way, days that we were really homesick for the Northeast, times when we missed our family or just had a really bad series of days. There was a period of time when I worked to establish myself as a rabbi in my own right, making a name and a reputation for myself apart from my husband, and that, in itself, was a very difficult growing process for us all – being apart for holidays, celebrations and Shabbat.
Just last week, we read in the Torah about the giving of the Ten Commandments to our ancestors. It was a “WOW” moment, to be sure. Then this week, we read Parshat Mishpatim, a laundry list of laws regarding property damage, kidnapping and cruelty to animals, to name a few. Seemingly, our “high” from the Ten Commandments comes to a screeching stop as we read rule after rule in this week’s Torah portion. But why? Why would the Torah do this to us? We were excited, pumped up and now we stop and go, “wait a minute, what just happened?” Well, one interpretation is that the Torah portions are two sides of the same coin. The spiritual high of the Ten Commandments is great, but it doesn’t solve the problems of the real world. In order to work through the everyday “hiccups” that occur, we need that one burst of energy, that one exciting moment that carries us through even the darkest days. The great commentator, Maimonides explains it like this:
Imagine you’re lost at night, trudging knee-deep in mud through a dark and vicious rainstorm. Suddenly a single flash of lightning appears, illuminating the road ahead. It is the only light you may see for miles. This single flash must guide you through the night. So too, one burst of inspiration may need to last for years.
Thirteen years ago, our family came to Ramat Shalom and experienced that amazing moment of light. That flash has carried us over the years, bursting through again and again through every bump and hiccup, in good times and even in bad. You, my friends, are our light. You are our home.
Please join us in a celebration, yes of the Jacobs’ 13th year at Ramat Shalom, but even more so, a celebration of that light that brought us together 13 years ago. A celebration of family. A celebration of home. To learn more about the celebration, please click HERE.