There have been many theories about the miraculous survival of the Jewish people. How have the Jews survived? Judaism finds holiness in change! This doesn’t mean that all change is good or welcomed. But the Jewish people have a unique ability to pull out the holiness and divine throughout. Beginning at the beginning, our creation story, each new day brought change. It wasn’t long after the first people were exiled from the Garden that they were reaching back out towards God, seeking meaning and understanding.
The Jews left Canaan because the climate became inhospitable, forcing them down to Egypt. Egypt became inhospitable so they were enslaved. Then they were brought to freedom. And the story goes on and on.
Looking at Jewish history shares the same story: Destruction of two temples, the end of the sacrificial worship rituals, exile, expulsion, murder and death all brought struggle, challenges and change to our ancestor’s doorstep. Resilience came through our people’s ability to see another path when the original door was closed.
Today we have the opportunity to share with our neighbors, our spiritual brothers and sisters in other faith traditions and kol yoshvey tevel (all who live on earth) how to find the holiness during these trying times. There are sparks of the divine everywhere. It is our job to gather those sparks and create a fire that can warm us during this cold, dark time.
Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal is the senior rabbi of Ahavath Achim Synagogue and the president of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association. He lives in Atlanta with his wife Brooke and their four children.