Dear Friend,

Have you ever had déjà vu? You know, that uncanny sense that you have experienced an event before, even though you haven’t? One theory behind this phenomenon is that the new situation reminds our brains of a similar experience that we had but can’t quite recall. Not consciously remembering the first experience, our brains can only summon a vague sense of familiarity.

This Thursday marks the fast of the 10th of Tevet. On this date 2,439 years ago, the armies of the Babylonian emperor Nebuchanezzar lay siege to Jerusalem, setting in motion the events that would lead to the destruction of the Holy Temple and the Jewish people’s dispersion in exile.

This week’s Torah portion, too, describes events that lead to exile. The children of Israel have settled in Egypt, and Jacob and Joseph have passed on. Next we hear, the children of Israel are slaves.

The collective memory of the Jewish people harbors an intimate knowledge of holiness and divine revelation—the legacy of our ancestors—but the memory is sometimes dimmed by the darkness of exile.

And so, as we commemorate these transitions into exile this week, and dive into the thick of winter, let us pursue an active form of déjà vu, seeking out moments of light and holiness, and elevating them from the dimness of memory into the light of conscious experience.

Devora Levin
on behalf of the Editorial Team