Havurat Shabbat Shalom – 10/16/2015
Rabbi Englander's Blog

Havurat Shabbat Shalom – 10/16/2015

Erev Shabbat Shalom,

Do you know what #LGM is?  It is the Twitter ‘hashtag’ for Let’s Go Mets.  And having suffered for many years as a big fan it is nice to feel a little triumph as we beat the odds and the Dodgers in Los Angeles against arguably baseball’s best pitcher.  Onto the Cubs, one of the only professional sports teams to experience more futility than the Mets.  Sentimentality and sports don’t go well together in the heat of the moment – so although I feel for the Cubs and their sad history, I hope we beat them in four straight!

Our eyes are once again turned toward Israel and the outbreak of violence that will push peace further away.  Random knife attacks – which are really suicide missions since perpetrators are likely to be killed immediately – might be the most fear-inducing tactic of them all.  With a missile you can (possibly) run to a shelter, a gun is fired from some distance and might miss and is more difficult to conceal.  But a knife is a weapon that can only be used at close range, so anyone you don’t know – especially who doesn’t “look like you” or “look like they belong” becomes a suspect, a threat.  Miscalculations of intention will lead to ever-increasing harm inflicted.  Don’t get me wrong:  anyone who thinks there is merit in the publication of pamphlets that include instructions on “how to inflict the most damage with a knife” is engaged in a reprehensible mindset.  Yet while it is easy to say “they brought it on themselves” we are always encouraged to think about how we may not allow the innocent to be swept away with the guilty.  There will be calls to separate populations, to round up potential assailants, to increase in some way the price paid by perpetrators, their families, or their communities.  It is another tragic layer on top of a history of failed attempts at peace.  Israel will find a way to defend herself if these attacks continue – and perhaps the invitation to conversation will be made and accepted, Palestinian leadership will call on anyone within their realm to stop this bit of madness, and God will bless the peacemakers.

Two related notes:  Sunday night at 7:30 you can get some insight from an expert, as we broadcast Ambassador Dennis Ross live from the 92nd Street Y in New York City.  FYI the program will be in the “ESC” (Kiddush room).  And Sunday morning at 11:30 you can come to an informational meeting about our trip to Israel in June.  I was on a call yesterday with JNF, who hosted the Mayor of Jerusalem and the extraordinary Rabbi Joshua Fass of Nefesh B’Nefesh (promoting North American Aliyah) both of whom said something to the effect of “now is the time to plan to visit your home”.  And I agree, whether with our trip geared to families and first-timers or in any other way.

Tomorrow we will have services at our regular time and celebrate the bar mitzvah of Tyler Field – mazal tov to Tyler and his family!  Thanks in advance to our Torah readers, Linda, Howard, Sam, Sue, and Tyler – it should be a lovely morning and I hope to see you there if you are around.

“What I meant to say” last week is taking a hiatus – I’m experimenting with divrei Torah in note form and whether these will be good to e-mail out afterwards remains to be seen.  The extra effort needed to turn a d’var Torah that is meant to be “spoken” (as opposed to read) into a readable form is well-spent but also significant.  We’ll see – just another step along the evolutionary pathway.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi David Englander


We are observing a national Israel-solidarity Shabbat called for by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.  Rabbi David Wolpe penned this prayer that will be read at services nationwide tomorrow:

El Maleh Rachamim — Compassionate God,

We pray not to wipe out haters but to banish hatred.

Not to destroy sinners but to lessen sin.

Our prayers are not for a perfect world but a better one

Where parents are not bereaved by the savagery of sudden attacks

Or children orphaned by blades glinting in a noonday sun.

Help us dear God, to have the courage to remain strong, to stand fast.

Spread your light on the dark hearts of the slayers

And your comfort to the bereaved hearts of families of the slain.

Let calm return Your city Jerusalem, and to Israel, Your blessed land.

We grieve with those wounded in body and spirit,

Pray for the fortitude of our sisters and brothers,

And ask you to awaken the world to our struggle and help us bring peace.