Chaverim Yekarim,

As our reading of Genesis approaches its conclusion these next couple of weeks, we reflect on some of the lessons that we have learned. Our ancestors formed part of an epic drama, one in which they played an active role. Yes, God made a lot of things happen to them, but they also seized the initiative. They journeyed. They laughed. They embraced.

And…this week…Judah steps forward. The portion’s first word, Vayigash, represents a strong and bold word. He approached. He stepped forward into the complete unknown. His dear brother, Benjamin, accused of having stolen an Egyptian goblet from their yet-disguised brother, Joseph. Uncertainty, danger, lurked around every corner.

And yet, he still took decisive action.

So it is with us. Too often, we let history happen to us, instead of helping write it ourselves. It is often easier to not take that decisive, first step, to remain in the safe and comfortable space we have carved out for ourselves. Our ancestor Judah, from whom we have inherited our very name as Jews, teaches us differently. Indeed, we Jews have always been bold, original, daring.

I recently discovered this beautiful poem from Erin Williams. I hope you enjoy as you reflect on our epic Jewish Journey. I hope it helps launch you boldly into a Shabbat of peace, wholeness and blessing.

Stepping into the unknown
Unsure of what the right move is.
Yes and no tug-a-war in my heart,
But I know, deep down,
What feels good.

The fear quickly moves into excitement,
the shock into hope.
For what may be,
what could be,
what will be.

You never know what you’ll do
when a curveball shatters through the life you’ve painstakingly designed.
But maybe the not knowing is enough.
Enough to just watch it all unfold.

Letting go of the plan
feels scarier than actually taking the first step
off the the well-marked path.
Just say yes,
Say yes in spite of the doubts, the what ifs
Say yes to the unplanned story being written in front of you.

Not knowing feels scary,
but what do you really need to do?
What do you really need to know?
Embrace and envelop the new, the unwritten.

The truth, the answer, flows through my veins.
Step boldly, step bravely into the unknown,
the untold.
Open your heart and your arms
to what may be,
what could be,
what will be.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Natan