Torah Tidbits

Celebrating Independence! headshot white 2015cropped

Shabbat Parashat Sh’lach L’kha

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh

July 2, 2016 – 26 Sivan 5776

Dear Friends,

Independence Day is right around the corner! A very happy 4th of July to all!

We have much to celebrate this weekend. We will be celebrating Shabbat. We will be celebrating the inauguration of our new Siddur Lev Shalem. Special thanks to Dr. Jesse Zedd for contributing over 300 new siddurim in memory of his beloved wife, Elinor Goldberg Zedd, of blessed memory. As part of our service this Shabbat, we will be reciting the blessing for the upcoming new Jewish month of Tammuz. We will be celebrating the 4th of July. And, on Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday of this coming week, we will be celebrating Rosh Chodesh Tammuz. May it be a month of joy, of peace, of health, and of blessing.

With all of these reasons to celebrate, it saddens me to recall the very recent vicious murder of 13 year old Hallel in Israel. Hallel, of blessed memory, was asleep in her home when she was brutally murdered by a 17 year old Palestinian young man. Our children are our treasure. Our hearts go out to Hallel’s family and to all of us who are heartbroken when we see once again how hatred can destroy precious innocent lives. Hallel’s murder was hailed as an act of great heroism by those who would deny the Jewish people the right to live in an independent Jewish State, in Israel. So senseless. So sad.

Hallel’s murder raises echos from the past. In this week’s Torah reading, we read of the 12 men who were sent by Moses to scout out the Promised Land and to report back to the people who were still wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt. Ten of the scouts reported all the scary things they saw in the Promised Land. They warned the people of the difficulties and of the dangers they perceived as they traveled through the Land. The two remaining scouts, Joshua and Caleb, focused instead on the promise that the Land held for our people. They did not deny the difficulties, but they pointed out the pluses. They encouraged our people to focus on the positive. They urged our people to continue on the journey to the Promised Land.

Whether we are close to home here in the United States, or further away around the world or in Israel; whether we hear a story from ancient times, or from the present – it is easy to be caught up in the bad news. That is what happened to the ten scouts who reported back all the scary things they saw in the Promised Land. But, as real as the bad news is, we must not forget that the good news, which more often than not is absent from the news reports, is just as real and just as powerful as the bad news. That is what Joshua and Caleb saw and reflected back to our people.

As we look toward the celebrations of the coming weekend, our hearts go out to Hallel’s family and to the families of all those who have been affected by the senseless hatred and violence of terrorists in Israel and elsewhere in the world. But, as Joshua and Caleb would remind us, the moments of serenity of spirit, of inspiration, and of just plain fun, are a very real part of our lives both here in the United States and in our young and newly independent State of Israel. As Joshua and Caleb would have us remember…Despite the challenges, let us stay connected and let us celebrate the blessings of life, and particularly the blessings of our independence!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror