This week we, the Jewish community in South Africa, welcomed the new Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mauritius, Lior Keinman and his Family into our happy, sometimes a bit difficult Diaspora community. At an event, hosted by the South African Friends for Israel, I had the pleasure to meet him for the first time, and to read a blessing for him .
I think that there is no coincidence that the beginning of Ambassador Keinman’s tenure is in that period of the year when we read Moses speeches to the Israelites and when we start to prepare ourselves for the High Holy Days. This is a time of transition, a time where the words of Moses call us for reflection and to action.
While the text of our portion reminds us again that any action has consequences, we are also encouraged to do the right thing. To reach out, especially to the poor of our society. We are reminded that compassion has no limits and that we can expand the boundaries of good in this world.
At the SAFI reception were many of our Christian friends from all different parts of the South African society present, and in his address to the guests, the Ambassador emphasised the role Israel has in finding solutions for those parts of our country that are in need of stable water supply, and medical progress.
This is for sure one way of bringing Tikkun Olam into this world. And, I see us, the Jewish community at large, as the ones who can build the bridge to make this transfer of knowledge and support stronger, expanding the boundaries of hope and shrinking the places of suffering.
This coming Tuesday, the beginning of the month Elul is our first milestone on our journey into the New Year. May this month bring you the strength to open your hearts and minds to find your place in live and the path you want to follow.
And may the new Ambassador be granted success to his endeavours, in the pursuit of his sacred mission.
Rabbi Adrian M Schell
Torah Reading Shabbat Re’eh
5 Moses 11:26-16:17
Reading Dtn 12:29-13:19; Plaut p.1263; Hertz p.804
Haftarah Isaiah 54:11-55:5 (Plaut 1290; Hertz p.818)
In our Torah portion:
* God places both blessing and curse before the Israelites. They are taught that blessing will come through the observance of God’s laws.
* Moses’ third discourse includes laws about worship in a central place ; injunctions against idolatry and self-mutilation; dietary rules ; and laws about tithes, debt remission, the release and treatment of Hebrew slaves, and firstlings.
* Moses reviews the correct sacrifices to be offered during the Pilgrim Festivals: Pesach, Sukkot, and Shavuot.