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)

Metzorah: Only one month to go, and election day is here.

25 years after the first democratic election. Many things have changed since then, and still much more needs to change, bringing more healing and more equality to our country.

Therefore, it is no wonder that campaigning has returned to South Africa, as many politicians and parties have very different ideas on how to solve the problems we are facing. As a result, it is inevitable that there will be debates about race, empowerment of different classes and the status of foreigners in South Africa. Once again, political leaders will try to explain to us who is in and who is out. All too often, they will try to score points by being harsh towards one group in our society and soft to others. In my humble opinion, this has nothing to do with the colour of our skin, our backgrounds, reconciliation, or real interest in problem solving — this is unfortunately only politics. At times, when listening to these politicians who are fighting about your votes, it seems to me that they try more to convince you who is more acceptable to be a part of „our“ group and who is not, rather than seeking to find ways to include everyone in our society.

In this week’s Torah Portion, we appear to get a similar kind of situation where the Torah lays down a legal system and laws for who is considered clean and unclean. And, by virtue of a person’s uncleanliness, who needed to be removed or kept separate from the camp for a period of time.

At first glance we can therefore assume that it is about exclusion, searching out the unclean and excluding them from society. However, I would suggest that it is the opposite. This part of the Torah reminds us of the importance of finding ways to include all, so that when a person was removed from the camp for what ever reason, the law provided a way back, based on open and trans-parent principals. Ultimately, these people would be returned and re-admitted into the camp and into society, because a healthy society needs all of its members to flourish. My hope and my wish for this year’s election campaign is, that our politicians follow the example of the Torah and strife for inclusion rather than to polarise and divide this society more than it already is.

Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Adrian M Schell