Jul 24

Tischa beAw: Nähe zu Gott – auch ohne Tempel

Tischa beAw – Ein zentrales Heiligtum ist für den Bund mit dem Ewigen nicht nötig. Wir können ihm an jedem Ort der Welt begegnen …

Mein Artikel in der Jüdischen Allgemeinen zum Nachlesen:

http://www.juedische-allgemeine.de/article/view/id/22847

2015-07-23 17.41.35

Permanentlink zu diesem Beitrag: http://www.simanija.eu/2015/tischa-beaw-naehe-zu-gott-auch-ohne-tempel/

Jul 24

Parashat Mattot Masei: We cannot feign ignorance to these humanitarian crises.

The obligation to protect human life, stands at the centre of our tradition. Derived from a verse in Leviticus which reads, “Neither shall you stand by the blood of your neighbor,” the classical rabbis developed the overarching principle of pikuach nefesh, which asserts the supreme responsibility of protecting individuals who are in potentially life-threatening situations.

This week’s parashah includes a distinctive Torah instruction which reflects our tradition’s view to protection life and, in particular, of those people in society who are vulnerable. The Israelites are instructed upon entering the land of Canaan to designate arei miklat, cities of refuge, which would function as asylums for the perpetrators of unintentional manslaughter from violent retribution by their victims’ relatives.

As we read the Torah’s instructions we are reminded of the huge number of refugees and displaced persons currently scattered across South Africa and around the globe.

When it comes to dealing with the reality of displaced people, the biblical institution of cities of refuge provide us with a Jewish foundation for pro-action.

In the Talmud, the cities of refuge are discussed in a number of places. In tractate Baba Batra of the Talmud we find a striking teaching within a seemingly mundane legal discussion concerning the proper width of a variety of pathways: “Our Rabbis taught: A private path is of the width of four cubits; a path from one town to another is to have a width of eight cubits; a public road, 16 cubits; the road to the cities of refuge, 32 cubits.”

What is noteworthy about this teaching is that we find that the road to a city of refuge was required to be twice as wide as an ordinary public road. These teachings reflect something remarkable about the rabbinic attitude toward cities of refuge. The emphasis on the great width and sound condition of the roads leading to cities of refuge, illustrates the seriousness, with which the rabbis approached this biblically mandated communal responsibility.

If our tradition displays such concern for people who have themselves committed murder, even if unintentionally, how much more so should we feel compelled to protect these tens of millions of refugees, the bulk of whom are not themselves criminals but rather innocent bystanders driven from their homes as a result of wars and violence.

Living in a time where foreigners are exposed to hate and prosecution, we cannot feign ignorance to these humanitarian crises, regardless of where they may be occurring. And armed with the knowledge of these emergencies, we are faced, as individuals, communities, and as nations, with the choice of whether or not to respond.

There are many things that we can do. We can support the important work of organizations like UNICEF to lower the pain of refuges over the world, we can support Keren b’Kavod in Israel, the progressive Aid organization in Israel, or our local Jewish and Christian organization that are here to help. We can raise awareness in our Jewish communities of the refugee crisis.

As is often noted, the Torah has more to say about the proper treatment of strangers than it does with any other set of laws, including worshipping God or observing festivals.

Today is Mandela Day, and perhaps we all can contribute to the ideas and dreams he envisioned for South Africa, a State where the human dignity of every individual is the highest treasure we have.

Shabbat Shalom

(Source: Rabbi Danny Burkeman)

Permanentlink zu diesem Beitrag: http://www.simanija.eu/2015/parashat-mattot-masei-we-cannot-feign-ignorance-to-these-humanitarian-crises/

Mrz 27

Abuse – do not remain silent (Parashat Tzav)

Shalom BayitThis evening, I am not going to share with you some regular thoughts on our Torah portion of this Shabbat. We will learn more about it tomorrow morning, especially from our Bat Mitzvah Jessica.

What I would like to share with you is a deep impression I have made this week at a seminar that was organized by Shalom Bayit, and I am very thankful that I had the chance to join the seminar.

The topic of the seminar was ABUSE; physical, mental, and sexual abuse. I know, this is not a usual topic for a Friday night sermon, but please bear with me for a moment.

The people on the podium, as well as two survivors shared with us not only facts, numbers and statistics, we can read everywhere; their words lead us into a sea of an emotional abyss, which they had to face personally or as counsellors professionally. They shared with us the brutality of any abuse, and how this affects and changes the life of any victim forever.

Even though we don’t like to hear it, we must hear the following: The abuse of women, men, girls and boys has been happening also in the “Jewish world”, it has been happening in our progressive one, too. We need to hear it, because it happens, and can happen everywhere at any time to everyone.

I don’t want to shock you, but I have to, because we need to be aware of it. Awareness is the first step to change the situation, and to help the victims.

Our Torah portion for this week is mentioning again the Ner Tamid, the eternal light or flame that once was lit in the sanctuary on the altar of the tabernacle and the temple, and has now become a symbol of God’s presence in every synagogue.

Some of you might (hopefully) remember that I talked about the eternal light just some weeks ago, because it was also a topic in Parashat Tetzaveh. On that Shabbat I shared with you the idea that the Ner Tamid is not only this light above the Aron HaKodesh, the Torah Ark, that represents God’s presence in our Synagogue, it is also the divine spark that is imbedded in every human being. This eternal light is nourished by our love and care for another human being. It is the love of a parent, a partner, of a child, of a friend, or even a stranger that feeds this eternal light in us.

But, let’s be reminded that this light is very fragile, it can be easily diminished or even worse, it can be extinguished very easily by abuse. This light needs our joined protection. We all, as individuals, and as part of this community have a high responsibility to keep this light shining, bright and un-touched.

If we learn that one person, only one, is in danger, or even already abused, we need to act immediately. As Rabbi Goldstein said – there is a zero tolerance policy towards abuse.

I have much more in my mind, I would like to share with you – the words of the survivors have impressed me heavily, and I know this is not the right place to share these experiences. But I think we should be having a seminar on this topic in the nearer future in order to give you all more information – first hand.

In the meantime, I would like to make you aware what you can do, if you learn about abuse, or if you need help.

We have pamphlets from Shalom Bayit in the foyer of the synagogue. They help you to understand more what abuse is, how you can recognize it, and how you can help or get help. Please get them.

As I said before, awareness is the first step to help the victims. Abuse happens, and the victims need our help. This synagogue is a safe zone. If you need help, or if you know of someone, who needs help, you will find it here.

Shabbat Shalom

WHERE TO TURN FOR HELP:

Chevrah Kadisha – 24hour line: 082-499-1010

Life Line: 011-728-1347

CSO Emergency: 086-1-8000-18

POWA 24hour line: 0800-150-150

Hatzolah – 24hour line: 083-222-1818

Permanentlink zu diesem Beitrag: http://www.simanija.eu/2015/abuse-do-not-to-remain-silent-parashat-tzav/

Feb 12

To behold the graciousness of the Eternal

2015_02_08_1420
אחת שאלתי מאת־יהוה אותה אבקש שבתי בבית־יהוה כל־ימי חיי לחזות בנעם־יהוה ולבקר בהיכלו׃
One thing I ask from the Eternal, One thing I desire:
That I may dwell in the house of Adonai all the days of my life,
To behold the graciousness of the Eternal,
And to enter His sanctuary.
Psalm 27.4

Rabbi Avidan, Rabbi Margolis, Rabbi Shaked,
Dear congregants and guests,

Please allow me to go back for a moment to our Torah reading from yesterday:

During Jethro’s visit to the Israelites camp, he notices a long line of people waiting to bring their disputes before Moses. Sitting alone from morning until evening, Moses listens to each argument, hears each problem, and states his judgment on each situation brought before him.
Jethro is astounded:
“What is this thing you are doing for the people?” he asks Moses.
“Why do you act alone, while all the people stand about you from morning until evening?”

Noting that Jethro was deeply upset with Moses, Rabbi Fields quotes an ancient sage who suggests that what disturbed Jethro was not Moses appeared overworked – but that Moses had become full of self-importance. Moses, he says, was “behaving like a king, who sits on his throne while all the people stand.”

The Torah is – as I have mentioned several times before – an important guideline for every one of us. One of its goals, to my understanding, is to form a just society. The Torah forms out of a group of slaves a nation of priests, serving God and all humanity. There is a massage for every one of us, as we are all to some degree slaves to something, and we will hopefully become once all these cohanim, priests, the Torah envisions us to be.

And so it doesn’t come as a surprise that the Torah is raising the question of leadership several times. As much as the Torah leads us to a society founded on the ideal of equality and democracy, it does not undermine the need of a strong leadership, as long as it is to the benefit of the people. And that is why Jethro criticizes Moses so harshly right in the beginning of his leadership.

The quote for our induction from the 4th book of Moses, Numbers 27.16 and 17 underlines this idea. This time it is Moses, who asks God at the end of his leadership to appoint a new leader, a good shepherd for the Israelites “who shall go out before them and to come in before them”.

Both instructions of the Torah teach us that leadership has always been a serious responsibility. Caring for the safety of a community and preserving its culture and traditions are complex tasks. Jethro appreciated the need to share the burden, and the interpreters of his advice to Moses – defined for us the qualities of leadership – required by Jewish tradition.” (Fields)

And so I pray to God, as we both, Rabbi Margolis and I, are entering the leadership of this community that we will meet the standards our tradition has set for us, that we will be wise in our leadership like the old Moses, and always sensible to the need of our people, you all, like Jethro.

And let us say Amen.

Source: Fields, Torah Comment

Permanentlink zu diesem Beitrag: http://www.simanija.eu/2015/to-behold-the-graciousness-of-the-eternal/

Feb 12

Shabbat Shekalim

Shabbat Shekalim („Sabbath [of] shekels“) takes place on the Shabbat before the 1st of the Hebrew calendar month of Adar, and is one of the four 4 special Shabbatot surrounding Purim and Passover to help us prepare physically and spiritually for those holidays. Traditionally every adult Jew was requested to contribute a half of a Biblical shekel for the upkeep of the Tabernacle. This tax was due by the 1st of Nisan, meaning in a month from now. In later times – as we can understand it from our Haftarah – the donation was used for maintenance of the temple. Today we can understand it as a contribution to the infrastructure of a community. The building and maintenance of a Synagogue for example. As the Israelites contributed to the building of the Mishkan, the tabernacle, we are still today asked to support our communities.

But we shouldn’t make the mistake to understand it only as a donation of money. This is one way of support, but Silver and Gold are only placeholder/symbols for other things we can give. It can be a cake for a Bracha, help when something needs to be prepared or done in the Synagogue or the visit of people who are sick. Sometimes, “just coming to the prayer services” can be a big contribution. Today, I think, the giving of TIME is one of the most valuable offerings we can give to our community.
Thank you all. – Rabbi Adrian M Schell

Permanentlink zu diesem Beitrag: http://www.simanija.eu/2015/shabbat-shekalim/

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