Talmud this Shabbat: The Heartbreaking Jewish Pattern–First Comes Suffering, Then Comes Blessing


On this weekend of the first yahrtzeit of the Pittsburgh massacre, tomorrow morning in Talmud we are going to shine the light on a heartbreaking pattern in the Torah and in Jewish history: first comes suffering, only later can we get to blessing.

First slavery, then freedom. First wandering in the wilderness, then entering the promised land.

That is the biblical paradigm tragically etched in our lived history as well.

First the Holocaust, then Israel. First Yom Hazikaron (remembering Israel’s fallen soldiers), then Yom Haatzmaut (celebrating Israel’s independence).

First suffer, then be blessed, has been part of God’s plan for us since the beginning.

God said to Abram: Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years; but I will execute judgment on the nation they shall serve, and in the end they shall go free with great wealth. (Genesis 15:13-14)

Tomorrow morning we confront this mysterious and inexplicable intertwining of suffering and blessing. We would not have picked it. We do not want it. We do not like it. But this pattern of suffering and blessing are intertwined, and suffering comes first, echoes not only in our sacred texts, but in our sacred and often tragic history.

What does it mean for us as we reflect on Pittsburgh?

See you tomorrow at 8:30.

Shabbat shalom,
Wes