When ten of the spies reported that the Promised Land was inhabited by undefeatable giants and fortified cities, the people of Israel immediately lost heart. Panic swept the community. They cried all night. They complained that they would rather have died in Egypt. They even thought of appointing a new leader to take them back to servitude in Egypt. To them, that seemed preferable to entering Canaan only to be murdered by the powerful Canaanite nations.
Angel for Shabbat
The Talmud posits an important principle: the Heavenly court deals with us by the exact same standards that we use to deal with others (Sotah 8b). If we are kind and compassionate, we can expect to be judged by God with kindness and compassion. If we are cruel and unfairly critical of others, we can expect the Heavenly court to deal with us with the same qualities we have shown to others.
"And the Lord spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying: this is the statute of the law which the Lord has commanded..."
“Lo, it is a people that shall dwell alone, and shall not be
reckoned among the nations.”
Among Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik’s lectures, was one that dealt with the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren. “A grandfather stands before his newly born grandchild filled with paradoxical thoughts. Feelings of renewal merge with fading memories of the past.”
We recently returned from a wonderful trip to Israel. As we sat in the waiting area of the BenGurion airport terminal before the flight, we noticed a young family nearby--a husband and wife and their little children aged 12 and under. As could be expected, the children were restless and wanted to run around and play.
The mother, in a soft voice, spoke to the children: It's fine to play, but please remember: everything you do should be a "kiddush Hashem" (a sanctification of God's name). The children understood their mother's message, and they played nicely and quietly.
This week's Torah reading includes the Shema--the classic statement of Jewish faith: Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. We are commanded to recite this passage each morning and each evening as a confirmation of our "accepting the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven".
I recently attended Shabbat morning services at a synagogue that was having a "Carlebach Shabbat". A group of "Carlebachians" led the services, and sang many of the prayers to music composed by the late Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach.
I happened to be sitting next to one of the organizers of this Shabbat event, and I asked him: what does a "Carlebach Shabbat" service provide, that seems to be lacking in the "regular" synagogue service? He pondered for a few moments, and then answered in one word: "Yearning".
I have been pondering this response ever since.
Shalom. I hope you've been having a good summer, and I wish you all the best. Here are a few items of importance for members of the University Network of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals.
1. Please make sure that we have your correct mailing list on file. You may go to our website, jewishideas.org, and check your My Account page. We plan to mail out the new issue of Conversations (Orthodoxy and Ethics) in early September, and it's important that we have your correct mailing address.