From the Heart With Rabbi Liebowitz
Hezekiah taught (Jeremiah 50:17): “Israel is like scattered sheep” – Why is Israel lik- ened to a sheep? Just as a sheep, when hurt on its head or some other body part, all its body parts feel it. So it is with Israel when one of them sins and everyone feels it. (Numbers 16:22): “When one man sins [will You be wrathful with the whole communi- ty].” Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught a parable: Men were on a ship. One of them took a drill and started drilling underneath him. The others said to him: What are sit- ting and doing?! He replied: What do you care. Is this not underneath my area that I am drilling?! They said to him: But the water will rise and flood us all on this ship. This is as Job said (Job 19:4): “If indeed I have erred, my error remains with me.” But his friends said to him (Job 34:37): “He adds transgression to his sin; he extends it among us.” [The men on the ship said]: You extend your sins among us.
I recall seeing a cartoon when I was very young. It showed a boy looking up to his mother and
complaining: “Mom, every time I ask Dad for a quarter, I get a lecture on the depression.“ In my youthful head I understood that cartoon, but not in my heart. I knew nothing from such poverty growing up middle class in the ‘60’s. My dad was a depression kid. I recalled during our “Friday Night live” Facebook “service (5:30 – Congregation Bnai Israel) how my father would place cardboard in the bottom of his shoes to make them last just a few more months until the tops had worn off. This pandemic has assaulted all of us for we are all in the same boat! Financially, psychologically, and socially! The isolation that many of us are experiencing can be as wounding as anything. Just recall how our GI’s in Korea faced that kind of torture which broke many a strong soldier.
I have always favored congregational rabbinate because I have had faith in the power of community. As I am well into my second decade of service to you in this congregation, I am still impressed by the efforts of our congregants to reach out, if only through phone, skype, and zoom Oh my! I am thinking of Sandy Smiley who just days before her procedure pulled herself together to go visit some of our homebound with me and Nancy Rosenberg. What a job they do! I think also of two relatively new members Karen Greenberg and Kim Pickett; Karen who offered to go shopping for anyone and in the second instance, Kim who baked Challahs for those in want. And there are many others!
The calls I have made and received are buoying and sustaining of the spirit. They are the glue that keeps us together spiritually. I am also grateful to those who generously support this Temple through thick and thin. I do not name them as their giving is from the heart and is private. Thank you!
I hope, as possible, you will continue to give to our food barrel to support those in need. A little bit can go real far! Jan, who is working mostly at home, can receive the donations when she is present, or you may leave them under the overhang in the portico near the door.
As I write to you today, I am preparing for our services to continue, including Torah study through Zoom. The passages we are reading from our weekly portion about sacrifices are from Va-yikra meaning “and He called!” We are called to be patient and caring to one another during this very difficult time. The word for sacrifice in Hebrew is Karban. The English translation does not adequately convey its deeper sense, as Karban means to “draw near!” As we sacrifice, we draw nearer to God and to our more spiritual selves. Even as Tseda- ka does not mean charity exactly, but “righteous giving,” so may we reach out to one another! Alas! No longer with our physical hands but with our spiritual hearts! I look forward to the time when we can hug each other once again.
Rabbi Yossi J. Liebowitz D.D.