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Religion

Do you have what it takes?

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These aren’t exactly the best of times … And even if they aren’t the worst of times either, having Europe toy with a third World War, a global economy on the verge of a recession, and more than enough problems here at home, it takes more than a bit of grit to have a go at it – and succeed.

From a Jewish perspective, thank G-d, this isn’t the worst of times. We have so much to be thankful for. But between the cost of Jewish education, post-Covid shul fatigue, and a world that is slamming us with moral, spiritual, ethical and religious challenges, no one I speak to feels like it’s the best of times either.

Yes, there is so much good news, but I’m not alone in the sense that the quantity of tragedies, illnesses and accidents feels just a little more than we can handle right now. Do you have what it takes?

Well, this week is not exactly the best of times either, standing as we are in the middle of the Three Weeks also known as Bein Hametzarim or “the dire straits”, which is when we remember what were truly the “worst of times” on the Jewish calendar, the destruction of Jerusalem, and all of the sorrows brought in exile since then.

That’s why this week we have two characters, both of them ridiculed by the people of their time, thrust against their will into moments of great consequence, beset with a deep sense of self-doubt. The phrase “do you have what it takes?” is amplified by the naysayers and confusion swirling around them.

Nevertheless, both Pinchas in our Parsha, and Jeremiah in our Haftorah, despite everything going against (and within) them, rose to the moment, radically altering the narrative of the time, and for generations thereafter secured a lineage of sacred pedigree.

How? Because they listened to the loudest voice inside of them – louder even than the prophecy of Moses, which in that critical moment when Pinchas asked, was silent.

It is the voice that speaks to every one of us, and in the words of Haftorah: “Say not: ‘I am a child’(and therefore incapable) for wherever I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Fear them not, for I am with you!”

Whether it’s the best or worst of times, one thing is for sure; it’s your time – because you have it in you.

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