Thursday, October 15, 2015
Shabbat Shalom Shaarei Kodesh,
This week, our people celebrated the new month of Marcheshvan. I wrote about the interesting name given to this month in a blog posting that I hope you read (click here to read Why I'm Wearing Blue on MARcheshvan). The name Marcheshvan is actually one word, but some have separated the name into two: Mar (bitter) Cheshvan. Some say that it is bitter because there are no Jewish holidays during the month, but many others disagree. As Jews, we celebrate each month, regardless of what will happen. When we announce the new month, as we did last Shabbat at Shaarei Kodesh, we proclaim as a community: “May it be Your will, Adonai our God and God of our ancestors, to reawaken in us joy and blessing in the month ahead.” During this holy time as we take our Torahs out of the ark and the community stands, we pray for peace, goodness, and blessing. Finally, we pray for a time when all of world Jewry will return to Israel. The literal meaning of this line is that we physically return to the land of Israel, but there might be another way to look at this prayer.
Perhaps it’s a message to us: let the entire people of Israel return have a spiritual return to the land of Israel.
I spoke about Israel twice on the high holidays. In one sermon, I spoke about the importance of Jewish Unity (click here to read) and in the second sermon I spoke about remembering that Israel always chooses life when faced with evil, death, and terrorism(click here to read). Little did I know how relevant these words would be so soon after the high holidays.
As I stated earlier, the term Mar, or bitter, Cheshvan seems much more timely as witness the terror attacks that are happening in Israel at this time. Innocent civilians are being murdered and wounded in stabbing attacks, amongst other means of violence. I have heard from friends and family in Israel who are scared to leave their homes.
We prayed last week for a ‘return’ to Israel, so now we must actualize this prayer. This Shabbat, I invite each one of you to join us both in celebration of our B’not Mitzvah, but also, in solidarity with Medinat Israel, the State of Israel. This Shabbat, Shaarei Kodesh will be joining synagogues from all movements across the country in a Shabbat of Solidarity with Israel. This Shabbat, we will come together to recite a special prayer written by Rabbi David Wolpe for our Israeli cousins living through terror:
El Maleh Rachamim -- Compassionate God,
We pray not to wipe out haters but to banish hatred.
Not to destroy sinners but to lessen sin.
Our prayers are not for a perfect world but a better one
Where parents are not bereaved by the savagery of sudden attacks
Or children orphaned by blades glinting in a noonday sun.
Help us dear God, to have the courage to remain strong, to stand fast.
Spread your light on the dark hearts of the slayers
And your comfort to the bereaved hearts of families of the slain.
Let calm return Your city Jerusalem, and to Israel, Your blessed land.
We grieve with those wounded in body and spirit,
Pray for the fortitude of our sisters and brothers,
And ask you to awaken the world to our struggle and help us bring peace.
Next Thursday, I invite you all to hear from Rabbi Sam Kieffer who will be speaking about living in the REAL land of Israel. During this evening, we will raise money for two organizations who are helping victims of terror in Israel (CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION) .
Let us pray for a return to peace in Israel, and pray for a world free of war and bloodshed.
Rabbi David Baum