Thank you

Thank you

Parshas Bo 5777

Yes, a plain and simple thank you from me to you.

 

Twice this week I asked and you answered; the first time was on Monday when a proper crowd from the Shul attended the Trafford Council’s Holocaust Memorial Day Commemoration Service in Sale Town Hall. For the first time ever we had a proper Jewish presence there, and the school children, dignitaries and various locals saw that this is something that we as a Jewish Community appreciate and value.

 

Then on Thursday an elderly gentleman, with limited Jewish family and friends was afforded a proper and respectful Levayah, with a good Minyan made up of men who had never met him in their life but still gave up of their time to perform this special Mitzvah.

 

We sometimes forget what our simple involvement and participation can mean to others. Everyone leads busy lives, but it is the measure of a person’s soul when they down tools and become active in the community – and not just at the cool in-vogue events.

 

Our best example of this is in this week’s Sedra when the Jewish nation was given the commandment to prepare a lamb for the forthcoming Pesach sacrifice.

 

The Pasuk says: “and the Children on Israel went and did what Hashem had commanded Moshe and Aharon, ­so they did”. On the seemingly superfluous ‘so they did’, Rashi comments that this refers to Moshe and Aharon, that they also prepared a lamb.

 

Big WOW.

 

Moshe and Aharon did what they were told to do!

 

Would we have expected anything else?

 

However what the Torah is telling us here is in fact something very powerful.

 

Moshe and Aharon were extremely busy at that point in time, they were legitimately excused from this specific aspect of the commandment. They were perfectly entitled to have someone else choose and prepare the lamb. Their responsibilities to redeem the Jewish People surely outweighed this little task that could so easily and justifiably have been delegated to someone else.

 

But they didn’t do that. For the first time in our history, we had been commanded as one nation to perform a good deed. This wasn’t the time to delegate, to ‘be otherwise occupied’ whilst others got involved. This was the time to be part of the Kehal.

 

So thank you to those who did turn up.

 

But let us please not wait until a funeral or memorial to remind us to play our part. A Shul survives (or not) on the power of its general participation. We have a lovely and loving community. We are blessed with many members who care and take pride in who we are and what we do.

 

If Moshe and Aharon could muck in, then so can we.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

 

Rabbi Dovid

Inaugurations and Leaders – Shemos 5777

Today the world changes. At least that is what the press are saying. With the Inauguration of President Trump the world will no longer be the same, and we begin a new era. Whilst I am sure that it will change, I am not going to speculate whether it will be for better or for worse, or whether Hilary would have been any better, rather I will quote my predecessor Rabbi Carlebach: “{Shul} Presidents come and go, but the Rabbi is here to stay!”

 

Nothing happens by chance and the fact that this specific Inauguration is happening on this Friday, Erev Parshat Shemot behoves us to look at the elevation of another leader, the man who epitomised humility and an absolute reluctance to accept the mantle of leadership.

 

The drama began when Moshe was already 80 years old, and according to the Midrash had been the King of Middian for 40 years. He had left Egypt decades earlier, fleeing for his life when his first intervention to save a Jewish slave had resulted in Pharaoh sentencing him to death; a fate he only just escaped – miraculously. He was now happily married to Tziporah and enjoying his life as a shepherd, following in the tradition of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaackov and their families (and later on by the young King David). Away from the troubles of the world and able to concentrate on their personal connection to the Almighty, removed from the politics and strife of city living, they focused on spirituality and the relationship of the Creator and His world.

 

All this was questioned when he saw the Burning Bush (no relationship to an American President!). G-d reminds him of his early years and his compassion exhibited back then, He recalls his true mission in life. But Moshe was having none of it, and he steadfastly refuses to accept this responsibility. He wasn’t indifferent to the Israelite’s suffering, but he simply couldn’t see himself as their saviour. According to Rashi, Moshe and Hashem argued for six straight days until on the seventh day things come to a head, (parallels to the 6 days of creation and the completion of the world on Shabbat are entirely accurate and the focus of a separate essay).

 

The verse says ‘Vayichar Af’ and Hashem became angry with Moshe – after six days of refusing, after throwing every single excuse in the book, Hashem finally becomes angry. Rabbi Yosi in Tractate Zevachim says that the result of this anger was that Moshe lost the Priesthood and instead it went to Aaron and his descendants.

 

What though was it that caused this anger? What specifically was it the Moshe said?

 

The previous verse details Moshe’s last ditch plea. He said: “shelach no b’yad tishlach”, please send the one you usually send. Moshe’s final reason not to accept the mantle of leadership was that he knew he would not finish the job, he knew the future of what was to be, that it would not be him who would take the Jewish People into the Land of Israel, neither for the first time nor for the final time at the coming of Moshiach. He begged of Hashem to please send the final redeemer right there and then. What was the use, Moshe argued for this ‘partial’ redemption?

 

And it was that specific argument that angered Hashem; Moshe’s complaint about his physical capability was met with a logical response, his complaint about the Jewish people’s reluctance to listen to him was similarly met with a reasoned response, but his complaint that there was no use to this redemption, that he didn’t want to be part of it unless he could personally finish the job and take us into the Land of Israel was met with anger.

 

Questioning our suitability to lead is fine. Even questioning the merit of those we will lead has its place (although Moshe was punished for that), but questioning the purpose of a redemption is beyond the pale. Refusing to begin something good and worthwhile for the people just because you know (or think that you know), that it will not be completed and will still require more work is never an option. Reluctance, humility and questions are accepted, but never despair for the future. We are all charged with doing our job, regardless of what we believe the future might have in store.

 

That this is also the Shabbat before the International Holocaust Memorial Day (on Fri 27 Jan), re-enforces the awesome and at times frightening responsibility that we all have to doing our bit and ensuring the future of the Jewish people regardless of how bleak we might feel the immediate future to be.

 

Shabbat Shalom

 

Rabbi Dovid