Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Week that Was and the Week to Come...

Tonight I write to you with much to say. Most of it good, in fact, some even most brilliant in-fact, and some, not so much so. To say that some of my words may be disappointing, might even be an understatement, and a gross one at that, but nevertheless, since we last visited, much has transpired, so, rather than tease you more, let's get to it.

The Week that Was and the Week to Come...

This past week, I have learned that I am still vulnerable, as are we all. I am still subject to inner and emotional pain, and even though, my beliefs are solid and true, G-d cannot shield us from feeling and emotion. If he did, we would not be ourselves, and that would be worse.

This past week, I learned that "Lashon haRa", the Jewish ethical standard for not gossiping or talking about others is really not practiced nearly as much as it is preached, and that many who preach about how to avoid Lashon haRa, and how to live without gossiping and without speaking ill of people, are at times truly the largest offenders. Many of those use Lashon haRa in the form of Omission, as opposed to out and out gossip.

In other words, one who promises to support a person, and at the same time makes a recommendation against that person, even if by means of abstention, or not commenting at all is surely as guilty as the one who is open and honest about his bad feelings toward another, right or wrong. By his silence alone, he is commenting in a negative manner. This is surely Lashon haRa. Especially if the offender carries with him great public support, admiration and respect.

A few weeks ago, in Parshat VaEtchanan, we again read the Ten Commandments. We read about keeping Shabbat, the Sabbath, and about honouring one's father and mother; and about bearing false witness. We also read the words of the "Shema", the cornerstone for all faith, that
G-d is one, and that we should love Him with all of our heart, soul and strength; and we read how to go about doing this (Deuteronomy 6). We also read what would happen if we do listen, and what would happen if we do not (Deuteronomy 11:13 - 21).

Tonight, I ask you this series of questions: Have we not followed? Have we fallen into a pattern of worshiping not G-d, but a different G-d? One who is green in colour and has different numbers in the corners? 1, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100? Have we become greedy to the point that G-d has taken offense and closed up the Heavens to rain, thus causing our crops to fail?

Could it be that our failing economy and lack of sustainable peace is a result of our own doing? This is not an answer for me to answer, but for us all to contemplate and do our best to repair this beautiful world that G-d has created for us. This is not a time to gossip and spread Lashon HaRa. We are only a few days from the beginning of the month of Elul. The beginning cycle of atonement leading up to the New Year and Yom Kippur.

Let us all do our best to end this year on a high note. With happiness and love in our hearts.
That said, the week is new and it really is time to move forward and to not spend so much time looking back. I need to learn to be better at this.

Tomorrow morning will bring me a new group of Third Graders and I cannot remember being this excited for the first day of school in a long time. Thank you, NI and MS for this incredible opportunity.

Plans for the High Holidays are quickly falling into place and hopes for wonderful Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur Services are being worked on constantly. We are hopeful for a new year filled with joy and love; old friends and new, and maybe even a whole new Congregation and Community to build. Remember that we are only, but five plus weeks away, so please watch your e-mail boxes this week for details. If you are in the Valley of the Sun and wish to be included in this mailing, please let me know.

More on the month of Elul and how we can put our arms around the traditions, old and new, will be published, G-d willing, within the next week.

From the dusty and blistering August heat of the place that we call Midbar Arizona, I wish you Ahavah u'Vrachot. Love and blessings for a Shavuah Tov. A good week, filled with health, happiness and abundant sunshine.

--R' Alan Abrams

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