Emor: Time for new bridges

Chaverim,
The point of being Jewish is to have a relationship with God. Yet, a relationship implies a certain give and take, and there is precious little in the Torah that talks about what we have that God could possibly need. What can we give to God?

In our parashah (Lev 22:32) we read: „You shall not profane My holy name, that I may be sanctified in the midst of the Israelite people-I Adonai who sanctify you.“ Translation issues become important here. The text says v’nikdashti, „and I will be made holy“ amidst the Children of Israel. In other words, „You will make Me holy just as I, Adonai, have made you holy.“ Here, for a moment, there is a relationship. We do something for God in response to what God has done for us.

However, having a relationship with God is a feathery thing. One never really knows what God is thinking and how we can truly bear witness to God’s will in the world. Yet, through prayer we are reminded of all that is Holy in our world and in ourselves, and through this we form a bridge of connection. We become partners with God in the perfection of this world. It is then that we can truly make God holy. By repairing the brokenness in ourselves, by repairing the brokenness of our world, we repair the brokenness that has resided within God since the first moment of creation and in this way we can indeed make the Holy One, whole once again.

Chaverim, the past few weeks were marked by the general election and the campaigns of the different parties here in South Africa. Nature of the matter is that lines were drawn and camps were formed. As much as this is part of any democratic elections, I also saw that new rifts were created in our society, that people felt hurt by the one or the other statement and that unnecessary fears were instilled in some of us. Therefore, we all should come together now and start bringing the people back together; every time after an election is the time to find real solutions, compromises and shared visions. Now is the time to repair the brokenness in our society — independent from any party programme and election—let’s bring back some holiness to our world.

Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Source R’ JR Rapport)

Kedoshim: When the world  seems to lose its own compass

Chaverim,

Once again we are mourning and raging after an anti-Semitic attack on a synagogue over the weekend. I have been and remain determined not to give any anti-Semite the victory they want in any way. Whenever they want to push us out of society, whenever they want us to be too afraid to gather in our places, or to live our lives as Jews out in the open, whenever they want us to feel that we do not belong, we say that is they who do not belong. It is they who are doing wrong and evil. Our place is wherever we chose to live, in South Africa, in Germany, in Australia … and in Israel. Every time an anti-Semite shows his or her face, we and ten or a hundred or a thousand of our friends and allies come to counter them.

Last week and the upcoming week are dedicated to the memory of those of our people who perished in the Shoah, and who fought in the many wars to establish and protect the modern state of Israel. We restore the dignity of those who have been  dehumanised by the Nazis and we honour those who stood up to protect our Jewish values and heritage. BUT, most important, we keep the promise given to them, to never forget.

Our Torah portion for this week opens with the following, beautiful words: „You shall be holy, for I, the Eternal your God, am holy (Lev. 19.2)“. What follows is not only a set of ritual obligations or ceremonies, but mainly a codex of ethical guidelines. Being holy means to be conscious of what we do and how we do things.  This is even more important in times when the world  seems to lose its own compass,  when terror,  fundamentalism and  populism is shaping  the reality in which we are living.

Friends, this must not be our future—you—we have it in our hands to counter this: it is our obligation to bring holiness into our world and to create a future that is less frightening. Please vote on Wednesday, strengthen our democracy by making your voice heard, and continue to stand with us when evil shows its ugly face.

Our Torah portion mentions love several times. So, let love be our answer.
May this Shabbat be filled with love, for you, our people and the whole world.

Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Adrian M Schell

Yom HaShoah Ceremony @ West Park Cemetery 2 May 2019