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VAYAQHEL 5782

02/25/2022 12:00:57 PM

Feb25

This past week, there has been quite a bit of news to reflect (and worry?) upon: did the PM respond too harshly with the Emergency Act, or is he guilty of having responded too slowly; what will happen in Ukraine; is the impending removal of masking in schools a good idea, or will it lead to increased infections?

All of that, and be careful of walking outside on the ice!

Nevertheless, I was bothered by an article I happened to read today, written by a former president of the National Council of Young Israel. It seems that in January, there was a program at the Boca Raton Synagogue. This is an orthodox shul, led by an extremely hard working and talented rabbi. The synagogue has become one of the largest in North America.

The program to which I refer was addressed by former Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and also by Pastor Mario Bramnick, head of a committee for Latino-Jewish relations, pro-Israel activism, and countering anti-Semitism. [The whole program can be seen on YouTube.]  The former President of Young Israel was distressed by the sharp criticism of a certain outspoken “chareidi” Rabbi, who very strongly criticized the Boca Rabbi for having organized such a program.

This sharp attack even led to the rabbi’s daughter receiving a threat on her phone.

I agree with the former President of YI: to attack publicly a rabbi who was just trying to inspire his congregation for Israel, was reprehensible. Without accomplishing any good thing, such an attack only leads to division among our people.

I couldn’t help but think of this week’s parasha.  It begins with the words va-yaqhel moshe ‘et kol adat yisrael. This is usually translated “Moshe assembled all the community of Israel;” or in French “Moïse convoqua toute la communauté.” But I would like to suggest a different translation: The verb va-yaqhel is what we call a “denominative verb,” from the noun qahal, meaning “community.” And it happens to be in the verbal declension known as hiph `il, “causative.”  That is, Moses was doing more than calling everyone to a meeting. He was trying to make then into a qahal, a community.

In the difficult times in which we live, we the Jewish people must be respectful one to another, not antagonistic one to another.

May this coming week bring good news to the Jewish people, and to the world.

Shabbat shalom

Mon, June 27 2022 28 Sivan 5782