For today I’d like to share with you a text, my colleague Rabbi Steven Moskovitz wrote. It echos in a wonderful Jewish way the words of President Ramaphosa from last night’s address, where the President – once again – asked all of us to stay at home. It might not be you, who will benefit from this the most, but you might safe your neighbours life.
The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go …, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.
Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/3720.Anne_Frank
Good – https://velveteenrabbi.blogs.com/blog/2017/06/good.html
Hashkiveinu as it appears in the Mishkan T’filah, our siddur:
הַשְׁכִּיבֵֽנוּ, יְיָ אֱלֹהֵֽנוּ, לְשָׁלוֹם,
וְהַעֲמִידֵנוּ שׁוֹמְרֵֽנוּ לְחַיִּים,
וּפְרֹשׂ עָלֵֽנוּ סֻכַּת שְׁלוֹמֶֽךָ,
וְתַקְּנֵֽנוּ בְּעֵצָה טוֹבָה מִלְּפָנֶֽךָ,
וְהוֹשִׁיעֵֽנוּ לְמַֽעַן שְׁמֶךָ.
וְהָגֵן בַּעֲדֵֽנוּ, וְהָסֵר מֵעָלֵֽינוּ אוֹיֵב, דֶּֽבֶר, וְחֶֽרֶב, וְרָעָב, וְיָגוֹן
, וְהָרְחֵק מִמֶּֽנּוּ עָוֹן וָפֶֽשַׁע.
וּבְצֵל כְּנָפֶֽיךָ תַּסְתִּירֵֽנוּ,
כִּי אֵל שׁוֹמְרֵֽנוּ וּמַצִּילֵֽנוּ אָֽתָּה,
כִּי אֵל חַנּוּן וְרַחוּם אָֽתָּה.
וּשְׁמֹר צֵאתֵֽנוּ וּבוֹאֵֽנוּ לְחַיִּים וּלְשָׁלֹם מֵעַתָּה וְעַד עוֹלָם.
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, שׁוֹמֵר עַמּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל לָעַד.
Grant, O God, that we lie down in peace, and raise us up, our Guardian, to life renewed. Spread over us the shelter of Your peace. Guide us with Your good counsel; for Your Name’s sake, be our help. Shield and shelter us beneath the shadow of Your wings. Defend us against enemies, illness, war, famine and sorrow. Distance us from wrongdoing. For You, God, watch over us and deliver us. For You, God, are gracious and merciful. Guard our going and coming, to life and to peace evermore.
Dear Bet David Families,
We are writing to you at a time when health is a serious concern, not only in faraway countries, but also now here in South Africa. We are reading and following the same guidelines that you are and will follow them as precautions and best practices for staying healthy.
At Bet David, the bathroom and washing facilities are cleaned regularly and staff members handling food have been reminded to follow essential rules of hygiene. Breaking with our minhag, we will cut the challot before doing HaMotzi and hand out challah in a basket or bowl instead of passing the challot around. We thank you in advance for understanding if we make some temporary changes, also in the ways that we are used to interacting with one another: elbow bumps instead of handshakes, hands on own hearts instead of connecting up for blessings, etc.
In addition, we are writing to say that your synagogue and your rabbi are here for you.
Our prayers will continue to be directed to those around the world who are experiencing illness, as well as those who are caring for them. We will hold those who are anxious in our hearts, as well as the many worldwide who have been isolated from others in quarantine for extended periods of time. And our hearts go out to those who are grieving the loss of loved ones.
Talk with us. Let us know how we, your Community, can help. Should you be affected by the virus, or any other illness, let us know. The rabbi or others of the community might not be allowed to visit you, but we are happy to call you and/or have a little chat via skype.
Our main concern is you! For the moment, there is no risk in coming to shul and to be part of the community. We hope to see many of you on Shabbat and Purim.
May our world be blessed with healing – with refu’ah shleimah – at this time, and always!
Rabbi Adrian M Schell & ManCom
Judaism from A to Z—”F: Free will (a different perspective)”
Since every human being is endowed with free will, even if a superior orders you to perform an evil act, Jewish law forbids you to follow the order. If you carry out the order, you cannot then blame the person who issued it, for you should not have listened to it. From the Jewish perspective, indeed from any religious perspective, God is on a higher plane than the person who gives the illegal order. One must follow the ethical commandments of the Torah and not an immoral one.
At the trials of the Nazi war criminals held after World War II, most Nazis offered the defence that they were only “following orders.” From the perspective of Jewish law, this was no defence. On October 29, 1956, the eve of Israel’s Sinai campaign against Egypt, the Israeli government feared a “fifth column,” and issued an order to Arabs living in Israel to remain inside their villages under curfew. At one Arab village, Kfar Kassem, some people went to work, apparently unaware that a curfew had been imposed. Israeli troops, encountering them, opened fire and killed forty-nine villagers. At their court-martial, the soldiers defended themselves with the claim that they were following military orders. The court rejected this defence and eight of the soldiers were convicted of murder. They should have known, the judges ruled, that it was immoral and forbidden to open fire on unarmed civilians. No “order” from a superior officer could justify what they had done.
Quite simply, according to Jewish law, if one is given an immoral order, one is obligated not to carry it out. If one does implement it, he or she is no less blameworthy than the person who ordered it. In the Talmud, this principle is known as “Ein shaliach le-dvar aveirah”. This expression means literally, “There is no messenger in a case of sin.” A messenger normally cannot be blamed for the contents of the message he delivers, no matter how ugly or infuriating it is. All blame should be directed at the one who sent the message. But if a messenger is sent to perform evil, he cannot defend himself by saying that he was only acting as someone else’s agent. Because “there is no messenger in a case of sin,” he bears full and personal responsibility for any evil he does.
Rabbi Adrian M Schell
(Source: J. Telushkin: Jewish Literacy )