Rabbi Greenberg in conversation with Shahar AzaniJanuary 9, 2024
Comedy NightJanuary 17, 2024
Cantor’s message for the Temple Newsletter for January 10th, 2024 – Vaera
Vaera for 1/12/2024
What a difficult beginning of 2024 we are having, right?! Wars, earthquakes, floods!
Perhaps not many have read this news, millions of tiny plastic balls known as pellets have reached the coasts of Galicia a few days ago, creating a tremendous environmental crisis that affects the fauna and flora of the region.
Who is responsible for these actions?
Was it God who taught us, “my children, hate each other” ? Was it God who turned the sands of the coasts of Galicia white with tiny plastic balls? Of course not. We human beings are the authors of all these faults.
We may then ask ourselves about this week’s parsha, Vaerah, was God who inflicted the plagues on the Egyptians, or was it the Egyptians who inflicted the plagues on themselves?
There are those who say that just as Noach’s contemporaries caused the flood, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah caused fire and sulfur to consume them, so it was that the Egyptians emptied their lives by enslaving and impoverishing their brothers, abusing the environment, and calling for the misfortune of the 10 plagues.
It is very hard to think about the consequences of our actions, especially when we are not aware of the damage we cause. But isn’t this our destiny as Jews every night at the end of our day? What’s the point of beating our chests on Yom Kippur if we don’t then take any responsibility for all those faults?
As Jews, there are many questions we are still afraid to ask. We have felt the whip of slavery hitting our backs in Egypt, we have agonized over the genocide of the Shoah. Those painful memories always accompany us. But they should not determine us… Now we are a free people! Understanding freedom as a right that should not be separated from the responsibility that it entails at its side.
So, will we be willing this year to ask ourselves those difficult questions? Those that include taking charge of our miseries and that make us grow stronger afterward?
I think that after the events of October 7 in Israel, we have all asked ourselves more than one question about it. it is good that we do ask ourselves hard questions, because peace is not reached through an easy single path. If we liked to choose the easy path, we would still continue to be slaves in Egypt.
But no, we didn’t do that. The Jewish people reaffirm in these chapters that it is better to eat unleavened bread, the bread of poverty, rather than enjoying any type of delicacy under the shadow of slavery.
So… will we be slaves to our own conformism? Or will we be determined to eat the tastiest bread in the world, the most desired, the bread of freedom? I lean towards the challenge of rethinking ourselves daily. We can always do better.
In just a few days with the help of God, my husband and I will be welcoming our first daughter. Today we will share with you our last Kabalat Shabbat before my maternity leave. To this daughter, we want to leave the best of us. We want to teach this daughter to take care of this world, to not settle for meaningless acts, to love everything that is healthy, to eat that desired bread of freedom that helps her grow in harmony with this planet.
We are very happy to experience this unique moment in our lives accompanied by all of you around us; Shaaray Tefila has become our home. We want to thank you deeply for giving us value at this time and witnessing our growth.
We hope that God blesses this beautiful community with vision and courage to face, if necessary, the exile into the harshest desert. May we not lack the guts to ask ourselves difficult questions during this upcoming week. May the union and community ties of this house be our fuel to navigate every new challenge.
Adonai oz l’amo yiten, Adonai yebarech et amo shalom.
May God grant strength to all God’s people; May God bless God’s people with peace.