This is a holy time, a special occasion, in which to enjoy celebration. The feasts help us to remember the past miracle of salvation and . . . to hope for the future.
Pessah, to remember the Exodus and to hope for the promised land;
Shavuot, to remember the gift of the first fruits and to hope for the fruit of the garden of Eden;
Kippur, to remember the forgiveness of the Lord and to hope for the universal atonement;
Sukkot, to remember our erring in the wilderness and the shekhinah and to hope for home and the time when the Lord will dwell (shakhan) with us;
Purim, to remember our survival from the first shoah and to hope for the Lord’s total victory over evil.
This special issue of Shabbat Shalom will take us from our sorrows and trivial concerns and encourage us to laugh, to eat, and to enjoy the presence of the Lord. Jewish festivals teach us that enjoying the gift of life and its promises is a mitzvah, a divine commandment to fulfill. In the pages of this journal, guided by a rabbi and a church theologian—two traditional enemies—we will, paradoxically, learn to come together in order to think about the rich and profound meaning of the feasts and, in that coming to together, learn to dream the right dreams.
The Triumph of Mordechai, painting by Pieter Pietersz Lastman
Image: The Triumph of Mordechai, painting by Pieter Pietersz Lastman. Public Domain