As our festival comes to an end and we enter into Shabbat, let us take a moment to pause and reflect. On Shavuot we open our hearts and accept the Torah anew. We celebrate revelation, coming face-to-face with a vision of the world as it could be. We reaffirm the most fundamental of God’s commandments, law that shapes our worship of God, both directly and indirectly. God’s presence is everywhere: in every person and in the relationships we cultivate among us. When we give honor to others, we give honor to God. It is good to be reminded of such a basic idea, especially as we consider the acts of racism that occured this week, including the unjust death of Mr. George Floyd.
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a legendary voice for justice, taught: “The opposite of good is not evil; the opposite of good is indifference.” He explained that “…morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.” It is important that we take heed of this lesson. We are all responsible for bringing about the world as it should be and may not allow ourselves to find any form of injustice tolerable. God’s presence is in every human being. To worship God means we must acknowledge God’s presence in all human beings. Like the Israelites, today we reaffirmed “naaseh v’nishmah,” “we will do and we will hear.” We have sworn to uphold the values handed down to us at Sinai. Now we must bear witness and come to fully understand the state of brokenness in which we live. May doing so give us the courage to honor God by standing up against all wrongs inflicted on others.
A Message from Rabbi Bodney-Halasz-Halasz
May 12, 2020
As the weather warms up and the chance of frost has supposedly passed, it is a great time to start a vegetable garden.
Watching something grow and thrive during this quarantine has helped me find joy and hope. The smell of something earthy and alive rejuvenates me. It is an easy way to enjoy the fresh air, avoid supermarkets, and appreciate God’s gift of creation. You can start small and you don’t need to have a yard. Consider a container garden or an herb garden!
Working in the garden also reminds us we are approaching Shavuot. Agriculturally rooted, Shavuot marks the harvest of first fruits in Israel, such as wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates. These were then delivered to the Temple in Jerusalem to give thanks to God.
It has been a long 8 weeks or so and we are all ready to fly the coop. However, even as quarantine restrictions are gradually lifted the threat of this coronavirus is still very real and none of us should unnecessarily put ourselves as risk.
Instead, let’s continue to find creative ways to enjoy our time. Perhaps, like in ancient times, it is the perfect time to prepare for a harvest. Wishing you may sunny days ahead.