This week we read the Torah portion “Matot.” In the beginning of the portion, we learn about a series of vows that must be made when making a commitment of marriage including asking parents for permission and upholding the vows that are made during the wedding ceremony. How fitting that I was selected to write the Shabbat Shalom message one day after Brittany and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary!

Brittany and I had a destination wedding in Carlsbad, California on July 17, 2016. Aside from the beautiful views and terrific weather, one of the things that still sticks in my mind were the promises we made to each other on that day. We made sure to be as realistic as possible, promising to support one another during difficult times and to embrace all the fun and wonderful times as well. We talked about striving to be the best people that we can be both individually and as a couple.

Looking at the portion, the vows that we made and the vows that many of us make may not look the same as described in Matot. However, they do still carry as much meaning. In our portion, there is a phrase that says, “one who makes a vow should take care to fulfill it.” It is for this exact reason that whether in marriage or just in our everyday relationships, we should try to be realistic in the promises and the vows that we make. We cannot predict the future, but we can try to uphold our promises as much as possible as the world changes around us.

Back in 2020 when Covid first began, during quarantine I made a vow to reach out to friends and family who I had not connected with in a long time. I committed to organizing group zoom sessions and to picking up the phone and connecting with others. It felt so great to catch up with everyone and hear what was going on in their lives. Recently, I have found that I have not made the time to continue this tradition. As I write this message, I would like to make a vow to myself to get back in the habit of reaching out to the friends and family who I have not recently connected with and to check back in with those who I have spoken with recently.

As we look at Matot and discuss vows, I challenge all of you to make a personal vow. What can YOU vow to do to make yourself better or to make our world a better place? No vow is too little or too big if you follow through with it as best as possible. I hope you all have the best week ahead and a Shabbat Shalom.

Shabbat Shalom,

Matt Rissien