Knowing that We Are Blessed

As Abraham reached the twilight of his years, our Torah portion informs us that „the Eternal had blessed Abraham in every way“ (Genesis 24:1).

The Rabbis were perplexed by such an assertion. No surprise! Do you know anyone on earth who is blessed with everything? Some people may give the impression that they „have everything.“ But when you scratch the surface you will find that we all carry burdens- physical, emotional, and
financial. We live with disappointment, with pain, with hopes not realised and goals never achieved.

So what about Abraham? As Rabbi Moshe ben Nachman (Nachmanides) suggests, Abraham was blessed with riches, possessions, honour, and
longevity (Ramban on Genesis 24:1). What for me is missing in this list is love, family and friendship.

Last weekend, when we were sitting around the tables that were so richly filled with cakes and sweets for the High Tea, and also on Shabbat at the brocha, after the service, I felt that we are a blessed congregation. Not so much because of the food, which was lovely, but because of being a real community, where friendship and togetherness are not only nice terms on paper, but a lived reality.

When the Torah says that the Eternal had blessed Abraham in every way, perhaps it not only meant the many blessings Abrahm enjoyed in his life-time, but also anticipated the many blessings Abraham‘s children—us—would some days enjoy: a rich tradition, friendship and community.

 Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Adrian M Schell

THANK YOU TO ALL OUR “MITZVAH MAKERS“

Under the leadership of Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked, Rabbi Adrian Schell and Reeva Forman, members of
the Gauteng Progressive Jewish community came together twice to help the less fortunate of
Hillbrow as part of the Mensch Mitzvah Day (17/18 November).

After celebrating Havdalah together at the new Bet David Campus, around 50 Mitzvah-Makers made more than 1,000 sandwiches and collected soft drinks and sweets for the children. On Sunday morning, the group met again at Temple Israel in Hillbrow to hand out the food packages. Face painting and candy floss stations made the day extra sweet and fun for the kids, as did Jazz-musicians Siphiwe Shiburi and Yonela Mnana who entertained the adults.

It was wonderful to see members of our Shuls working hand in hand to bring some tikkun into this world. At Temple Israel we witness day by day how much help is needed in the neighbourhood and it is my hope that this Mitzvah Day inspired many to continue their good work, following the wise words of our Sages that “one mitzvah leads to another”, said Rabbi Schell

More photos taken on Mitzvah Day can be found on our Facebook group for Bet David members: www.facebook.com/groups/BetDavid

 

One Mitzvah leads to another, while one sin leads to another,
and when one acts justly it is very good. – Pirkei Avot 4:2

Chaverim,

This Saturday evening and Sunday morning, we join forces with our friends from Temple Israel and Beit Emanuel to help others. Every year in November, Jews world-wide dedicate one Sunday to do good, and to talk about it. All the other times, we should just do good things without talking about it, but this time is different. We are going public, because we want more people to follow our lead and to go out and help, as one mitzvah leads to another.

Our kindness and our actions—no matter how small—matter. The way we treat each other matters. We see that clearly in our Torah portion. Jacob has left Canaan, and has come to Haran, whereupon he sees Rachel and sees the stone covering the well. It should say “there was a large stone on the mouth of the well” but that’s not the actual order of the text. It actually says “the stone was large on the mouth of the well.” The s’fat emet understands this as a metaphor: the stumbling block—our evil urge—may be everywhere, but it is heaviest and largest on the mouth of the well. What is the well? Our words, our mouths, our hearts, our intentions, our own actions. Once Jacob understands the situation, he, by himself, removes the stone from the well. He takes the action. He does what is right at that moment. His actions improve the fate of the shepherds around him.

Jacob’s actions matter and so do ours. When we choose to act with kindness, even if the action is small, it changes the life of that person. If you follow the lead of others, or an inner drive, it doesn’t matter, just do it.

I am looking forward to seeing many of you on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Details about the Mitzvah Day can be found on page 1 and on our Facebook page: https://tinyurl.com/yb4cedu7 .

Please join us. Thank you.

Shabbat Shalom  – Rabbi Adrian M Schell (Source: Yair D. Robinson)

Luca Giordano – Jacob and Rachel at the Well