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    Refusing to be comforted – Vayyeshev

    Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks was a phenomenon.

    No rabbi in the 21st century has spoken the message of God, religion and Judaism with the style, elegance and persuasiveness of Rabbi Sacks. He was a remarkable student who became a remarkable teacher. Jews and gentiles knew his voice and found inspiration in his words.

    One of his great achievements was his “Covenant and Conversation” series. Often he said the unexpected, including on this week’s portion.

    The Torah says that Jacob mourned for his son for a long time and refused to be comforted (Gen. 37:34-35). Rabbi Sacks points out quite correctly that Judaism sets limits to one’s grief, and there is a Midrash that says one may only continue to mourn if (as in our case) the person who is absent may well still be alive.

    “To refuse to be comforted,” says Rabbi Sacks, “is to refuse to give up hope”.

    It is not only Jacob who refused to give up hope. So did Rachel, “weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted”. Jeremiah (chapter 31) spoke in God’s name when he assured Rachel that her children would return and there was hope for the future.

    We know how true this is, living in an age when Jacob, Rachel, Jeremiah (and the Almighty) can acclaim the fulfilment of their faith, hope and dreams, when the bruised people have come back home and rebuilt Jerusalem, when Judaism is reinvigorated and Am Yisrael chai…

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