6/7 December 2019, 8/9 Kislev 5780

God was in this place, and I, I did not know it.

This exclamation by Jacob on waking from his dream of a ladder ascending to heaven, with angels going up and down has always intrigued us (why were the angels coming from earth?).

Why did he sense the presence of God and if so why was he surprised by it. It anticipates Moses taking off his sandals at the burning bush, or Samuel as a boy wakened by a voice calling him, assuming it was his master Eli and suddenly realising it was God.

We all have those quiet moment, ‘the still, small voice of calm’ where we sense something beyond us. Sometimes it’s deeply personal or spiritual. Sometimes it is in the face of extreme courage or love.

In an extraordinary demonstration of peaceful intent and love David Merritt, father of Jack (who was murdered last Friday at London Bridge), called out those making political gain from his son’s murder. “Jack would be livid his death has been used to further an agenda of hate…”

Jewish narrative in Bible, and in history offers many unexpected sacred moments. I can’t help but feel this moment is one of those. When real life sheds meaning on a biblical verse.

How can we not be touched by such courage and integrity as a parent grieves their child? With such a strange terrible twist that his murderer was someone he had worked with in the rehabilitation he was so committed to, and still that commitment to love and peace.

May we always be open to those moments of sensing:

God was in this place, and I, I did not know it.

Wishing you Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Rebecca