Read on the morning of Thanksgiving at Morning Minyan, the week of Vayishlach at Temple Beth Abraham, 2015
Today is the last day I say Kaddish for you, my father, during this year of my mourning. The year you closed your eyes forever.
Although this marks the end of this part of our journey together, it is the beginning of integrating your life into mine in ways I cannot yet imagine.
It is Thanksgiving, the Thanksgiving of Vayishlach where Ya’akov’s journey can teach us something about integration and transformation through noticing that loss and struggle are key components to Ya’akov’s healing.
We are with Ya’akov when he sends messengers, vayishlach malachim, to his estranged brother Esav in an effort to repair the relationship, to make amends. We experience the transformation of Ya’akov through struggle, fear, place, injury, blessing, name and eventually through taking a different path from Esav and from letting go.
Father, it is a day of gratitude for your life, for the life and gifts you gave me, and the experience of family I continue to have. It is a day of Thanksgiving for sending messengers, malachim, this minyan, this family, to me. These malachim have guided me and sent me on my healing journey, accepted me with love and shared their joy, even when I was slow to show up in return, dragging my feet in grief at times. These malachim sent me on my path towards transformation through their blessing of presence.
How appropriate that today is the Torah where we learn of the loss of Deborah, Rivka’s nurse, who was buried under the Oak of weeping, Alon Bachoot. Where Rachel dies in childbirth and is buried on the road to Ephrat, and Yitzchak dies and is buried by his sons, Ya’akov and Esav, who twice took separate paths and now are reunited as family in their shared grief.
And yet, even with the struggle, fear and injury, even with all the loss and grief and weeping in today’s Torah, we end our parasha with the list of the generations of Esav to follow. We are reminded that death is a part of the natural order and that life, families and generations continue forever.
And for this, let us say, AMEN