16/17 October 2020, 28/29 Tishrei 5781

And you can overcome it [your desire to sin]

My youngest child’s Bar Mitzvah this weekend. As Rafael himself wrote in Shofar this month, he’s anticipating a few tears. And he is right to. What is it about the passage of time and these life cycle moments that move us so. Sheila K-L today reminded me when we first joined FPS and of Rafael climbing the steps of the Bimah, to my embarrassment, and wrapping himself around my legs. Things move and change; and that is both the source of joy and wistfulness. Watching our babies become (at times) thoughtful adolescents is a good thing and I couldn’t be prouder of him.

I love that he has this portion, the one that ends with the words describing Cain’s new home East of Eden, the same words that gave John Steinbeck the title for his book. The story of Cain and Abel and their attempts to please God inspired Steinbeck’s story of the brothers Cal and Aron trying to love and be loved by their father Adam. Steinbeck was not alone in loving the story. But it’s the devastating last page that captures the intensity of this biblical narrative about free will and how we choose to behave. Timshel is Adam’s last word directly quoted from Genesis 4 atah timshol bo;  replete with the meaning he gives his sons; ‘you can overcome [it]’, or as I prefer to understand it, ‘you may always choose to do better’.

Shabbat Shalom to you all