Rabbi Nickerson's Shabbat Message - December 30, 2022

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Rabbi Nickerson's Shabbat Message - December 30, 2022

Enough is enough. That is the phrase stuck in my mind as I reflect on the year 2022. When I  consider why, it is because I approach the phrase from two perspectives. The first is based on a feeling of frustration: 

Enough with this COVID-19 pandemic and the destruction it’s wrought.

Enough with the economic woes we’ve faced this past year and the damage it has caused. One visit to our Karsh Family Social Service Center on a Sunday or Tuesday and you will witness hundreds of people lined up waiting to benefit from our food pantry.

Enough with the homelessness crisis in this city.

Enough with the gun violence in this country. 

Enough with the rise in antisemitic incidents in Los Angeles, our country, and around the world.

Enough with the war in Ukraine.

Enough with the more and more obvious impact of climate change on our planet and our lives.

Enough with the vitriolic political divisiveness and the damage it’s causing our country and our communities.

But there’s another way to interpret the phrase ‘Enough is enough” and it is linked to a brief line in this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash; a portion famous for the dramatic reunion and reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers. After a tearful embrace, Joseph tells his brothers that they must go inform their father, Jacob, that the family will finally come back together and live in peace. For years and years, Jacob had been under the impression that his favorite son, Joseph, was dead and was inconsolable as he mourned the loss. But when he finally learns that his son is alive and well, he states, “It is enough. Joseph, my son, is still alive!”  Despite all the trials and tribulations that Jacob had endured over the years, the thing that was truly ‘enough’ was the mere fact that his son was alive. That was all that really mattered.

And so, as I reflect on this past year, that brief line from this week’s Torah portion represents the second way I interpret the phrase “Enough is enough.”  It is based on a feeling of fulfillment:

Just staying healthy is enough.

Just being able to go to Israel with my family and members of the WBT community this summer is enough.

Just witnessing my middle daughter become bat mitzvah a few months ago is enough.

Just having a roof over my head is enough.

Just sharing moments of joy and sorrow with members of this community is enough.

Just the love of my wife, Julia, is enough.

Just being alive is enough.

I have no doubt that 2023 will bring with it plenty of issues and events worthy of exclaiming “enough is enough!”  But more importantly, I look forward to highlighting and holding on to the moments that are life-affirming, soul-filling, and meaning-making. The ones where I sit with a smile on my face surrounded by those I love and declare, “enough is truly enough.”  

Shabbat Shalom and Happy New Year,

Joel