As the world spirals – with Syria coming apart at the seams, with Al Qaeda on the rise, with Iran ever closer to a nuclear bomb, and with the Palestinians threatening a third intifada – the Middle East turmoil is again shaking an already unstable global landscape. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s recent death only adds to the confusion. And everyone is groping in the dark for a solution to restore some balance.
Personally as well, many of us are going through challenging times. Thankfully, we are about to enter (come Monday) the Jewish season of freedom – and it couldn’t have come at a better time. The dark days of the Egyptian exile and the subsequent Exodus offer us deep lessons for dealing with our current upheavals. As Moses was standing in the streets of ancient Egypt he, too, was wondering how his people would achieve redemption after so much suffering. And the answer he received gives us hope as our universe trembles today. It all began with the new moon…
What life lessons can we learn from the new moon, which we bless this Shabbat HaChodesh? How can it – and the Jewish calendar in general – help us make sense of our lives and get ready to enter the new month of Nissan, the month of Passover, the month of Redemption? Imagine yourself on a speeding train, being thrown from side to side, unable to maintain steady balance. The flow and movement of time and space can upset your equilibrium in a similar way. But the Jewish calendar is like a balancing compass that configures your bearings and synchronizes them with the coordinates of the universe, helping us navigate and align our lives with the cycles of time and space which we occupy and travel through.