Shabbat Parashat Shelach-Lecha Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh Independence and Tradition

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us on Shabbat morning as we celebrate this year’s adult b’nei mitzvah group – Elaine Abrams; Joseph and Bogie Edouard; Eliane Freund; and Beverly Phillips – and their teacher: Roy Lasris!  It is bound to be a very special service!!!

These adult b’nei mitzvah have devoted time and energy to attain the traditional skills that have kept our people united throughout the ages – reading Torah and leading services.  Generation to generation, Jews have continued to support Jewish life by honing these skills and by making them their own.   Along with that, Jews have also interpreted and re-interpreted the message of Torah, ensuring its continued relevance to the lives of our people, generation after generation.

Not only will our latest group of adult b’nei mitzvah read Torah and lead services, but each one of them will also share a brief d’var Torah – a word of Torah – with us.  Each one of them will speak from their own personal perspective and I am sure you will be captivated by the variety of wonderful words of Torah that they will share with us.

This celebration reminds me of our weekly Torah portion of Shelach-Lecha.  Moses sends the twelve scouts out to take a close look at the Promised Land. Only one of the scouts, Calev son of Yefuneh, came back with a positive report.  Even Joshua, who, in the end, supported Calev’s evaluation of the Land, did not at first speak out against the nay-sayers.

What gave Calev the courage to speak positively about the prospects of our people to successfully enter the Promised Land when 10 of the scouts who went and came back with him warned our people that they would not be successful?

Rashi teaches us that only Calev drew his courage from the fact that only he went to prostrate himself on the graves of our ancestors in the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron.  It was that act of holding onto tradtion that enabled him to gain enough strength and inspiration from the teachings of our ancestors to stand up to the nay-saying overwhelming majority of his group.  Calev took the best of our tradition, drew courage and inspiration from it, and by virtue of his personal effort and personal connection to tradition, he found the courage to speak his mind and to share his unique perspective with others!

This is the kind of courage and inspiration that you will see in the words of our adult b’nei mitzvah group on Shabbat – independence that comes from having firm footing in our tradition!  Yasher koach to our adult b’nei mitzvah of this year as well as to those of previous years!

This Shabbat we will also recite the blessing of the new Jewish month of Tammuz.  Rosh Chodesh Tammuz will be on Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday of this coming week.  May it be a month of healing, of comfort and of blessing for us, for all the people Israel, and for all good people everywhere!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror