Shmini Sermon Reflections

People today are suffering on a scale that, only a few weeks ago, was almost impossible to conceive. And it feels like we are still at the beginning of the turmoil this pandemic will bring.

This past week’s Torah portion, Shmini, tells one of the most horrible stories of our Torah- the sudden and unexpected deaths of two young men. I have studied this parsha dozens of times, and the suffering in this Torah portion is still hard for me to read.

As I was preparing for the sermon this past Saturday morning, I was touched by philosopher Alain De Botton’s reinterpretation of Albert Camus’ fictional story, The Plague. In The Plague, a town called Oran grapples with a disease that kills half its population and, as Camus does so deftly, shakes the reader’s sense of meaning and safety. The Plague is a descent into the chaos of the world.

But Judaism insists that there is more to this world than darkness, and this Saturday’s look back at the Jewish story of creation shows how brightly the beauty of life can shine. To be alive is to experience one miracle after the next, and this might be a time when the darkness in the world brings its light into focus.

I hope this sermon opens you to the beauty in life that even this pandemic, even Albert Camus, cannot take away.

Please click here to read the full text of Rabbi Miller’s sermon from Saturday, April 18.

Click here to see a Facebook post that accompanied this blog.