Eleven years ago this summer I lived in Israel and worked as a full time babysitter. My accommodations and job were organized by a rabbi and mentor from my youth, whose family invited me to join them during my final summer of university. My main charge was their two-year-old, who is preparing for Bar Mitzvah this fall! My secondary charge was their eight-year-old, who is now entering his second year of university, and their five-year-old, who is spending this summer in Israel on EIE, the Union for Reform Judaism’s High school summer learning and living program right outside of Jerusalem.
By chance, the once-five-year-old now-sixteen-year-old has become friends with a sixteen-year-old from Holy Blossom who is also on EIE this summer. What a neat connection!
The Modern Hebrew word for connection is kesher. Interestingly, the word kesher in Rabbinic Hebrew means a knot. We learn this, for example, from its appearance in the Talmud. There is a discussion in the tractate about Shabbat which attempts to define what constitutes a knot.
It is suggested by one sage that a knot is simply that which joins two separate or broken materials together. By another sage, however, it is suggested that a knot is only that tie which is long-lasting, or durable. Maimonides, who lived well after the Talmud, concurred with the sage perspective that what constitutes a knot is that which is long-lasting.
Because of these Jewish discussions we understand that the modern notion of a kesher, or connection, suggests a connection that is deep and enduring.
As I reflect on a neat, deep connection that rose from a long term family friendship and a current congregational community relationship, I am also thinking about the coming year. I would like to encourage us all to create and renew k’sharim, or connections, to and within our families, our professional networks, and our Temple community. In fact, according to our tradition, meaningful connections are not only enduring but they too sustain us.
Kayitz Tov, a very good remainder of the summer to you and your families. And, K’sharim Tovim, wishing you very good connections at this time.