Torah Tidbits

As Elul Approaches…
Shabbat Parashat Ekev
Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh headshot white 2015cropped

August 8, 2015 – 23 Av 5775

Dear Friends,

It is good to be back and to have the opportunity to catch up with so many wonderful folks at Rodef Sholom Temple!  And, thank you and yasher koach [may you have continued strength] to all the volunteers who took on many extra roles in my absence and made sure our services ran smoothly!

The time I spent in Israel was both amazing and wonderful.  I had a blessed opportunity to enjoy family, children, grandchildren and friends.  I bring back a renewed sense of awe at what our people have built in the Land of Israel.  I bring back a sense of connection that is heightened by visiting Israel: a connection not only to the Land, but also to God; to generations past; to Jewish people throughout the world; and to a prophetic promise of a better future for all people.

Yes, there were dark moments and disturbing events that cast their shadow over the glow.  The recent attack on innocent people who marched in the Jerusalem Gay Rights Parade was horrendous.  Sadly, it was carried out by an ultra-Orthodox Jew who had just recently been released from prison where he had been serving a long sentence after having been convicted of a similar violent crime a decade ago.  And, then, the torching of two Arab homes causing the death of an innocent toddler and very serious injuries to his parents and sibling.  Terrible.  In reaction, the president of Israel donned a kafiyah (Arab headdress) and spoke of the shame he felt that such hatred was allowed to fester and to impact the lives of innocent people in Israel.  He took responsibility.  He framed the goals of our people throughout the ages – to live in peace with our neighbors, to cherish life as a God given gift, to treat all human beings with dignity and respect.

These values are central to our prophetic tradition.  These are values that modern day Israel reflects.  And, these are some of the shared values that form the bedrock of the unshakeable bond between the United States of America and Israel.

Despite the darkness, Israel is a truly amazing place.  Our weekly Torah portion teaches us that God promised to bring our people into the Land of Israel – “a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey…where you will lack nothing…”. (Deut. 8:7-9)  And, truly, this is the nature of the Land of Israel.  It is a Land filled with potential and with hope, with love and with commitment.  But, mostly, it is a Land which allows us to connect our souls with an everlasting covenant which imbues our lives with meaning and with purpose.

This Shabbat we will recite the blessing for the new Jewish month of Elul which will begin one week from this Shabbat.  May it be a month of peace, of health, and of happiness for us, for all the people Israel, and for all people everywhere!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror