Food For the Soul
The future is in our hands
The Parsha Devarim (Deuteronomy) begins the last of the five books of the Torah. In it Moses speaks directly to the Jewish people, recalling the major events and laws that are recorded in the Torah’s other four books. This repetition was so important that Moses dedicated the last days of his life to it. Clearly, it was necessary to insuring the future of his beloved nation .
We often hear talk about the “Jewish future.” How will we overcome the threat of assimilation and inspire the younger generation to care about their heritage? There are task forces, studies and conferences all focusing on this issue.
Inspired by the book of Devarim, I’d like to suggest that the best way to insure a Jewish future is through Jewish education. The first choice is a Jewish day school, which provides young people with all the knowledge and skills they need to live as Jews in the modern world. The second choice is an after-school or Sunday Hebrew school.
Let’s consider the facts: The values of Judaism enrich us; they provide us with a moral center, spiritual depth and purpose. They link us to thousands of years of tradition that reach back to Mount Sinai, when G‑d gave the Torah to the Jewish people. It’s hard to think of anything that could be more important.
Perhaps Moses spent his last days on earth repeating lessons he had already taught to underscore the necessity of education. The chain of history is only as strong as the weakest link. We need to ensure that the next generation remains connected to their heritage and understands the depth and richness that Judaism has to offer. Education is the key. The future is in our hands.
Condensed from an article by Rabbi David Eliezrie
Shabbat of Vision
July 25 (4 Av) is called Shabbat Chazon (“Shabbat of Vision”) after the opening words of the day’s reading from the prophets (“haftara”). On this Shabbat, say the Chassidic masters, we are granted a vision of the Third Temple and are empowered to break free of our present state of galut (exile and spiritual displacement) and bring about the Redemption and the rebuilding of the Temple.
Note: Tisha B’Av occurs on July 29-30 (9 Av). This is when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and our launch into a still-ongoing exile. It is marked by fasting and other practices. Please consult a competent halachic authority for details.
Mind Over Matter
What is beauty?
Beauty is not a thing; it is an experience. It is concerning the object of beauty that wise Solomon says, “Charm is false and beauty is vain.” But in the experiencing of beauty we open a window upon the infinite that is synonymous with the experience of truth.
Throw out the chaff of the static object and focus upon the inner experience, seeking a beauty that will last forever, and you will find true beauty—and beautiful truth.
And ugliness? Ugliness is when the mind takes one look and gives up.
From an article by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
How to face the future
“It is true”, writes Dr. Tali Loewenthal, “that we have many times seen many tears in our long past. In recent centuries, and in recent decades, we have also seen much confusion. One may indeed wonder, reading the daily newspapers, what does the future hold? Yet our sages are clear in their view: the future is filled with joy.
The key message as to how we should face this radiant future, prepare for it and make it happen, is expressed by the concluding verse of this week’s haftorah (reading from the prophets): “Zion will be redeemed through justice [Torah], and its captives [will go free] through charity”(Isaiah 1:27). Through Torah study, teaching justice in all aspects of life, and good deeds such as charity, we can make the glorious future, the goal of Judaism, for us and all humanity, happen now.”
Have I got a Story
Are you at a crossroads?
In the beginning of our Parsha, Moses recalls how G‑d had said to the Children of Israel, “You have surrounded this mountain long enough. Turn away, and take your journey…” (Deuteronomy 1:6). The mountain is Sinai, scene of the revelation of G‑d’s wisdom and will to man. Yet G‑d tells us, “You’ve been here long enough. Move on!”
We must always be prepared to move forward, to carry on to the next stage. To take what we have and to propel it forward. How are we to navigate a clear path, through the confusion that is everyday life? How do we reconcile this with our past? How do we utilize our life experience, both individual and collective?
A young boy was traveling from Jerusalem to the Galilee. He arrived at a four-way crossroads and discovered, to his horror, that the crossroads sign, with its arrows pointing the way to the cities lying in the four directions had fallen down. Now he had no way to know which road to take to reach his destination.
What was he to do?
But he knew where he was coming from — Jerusalem. By arranging the sign so that Jerusalem pointed to the path he had just come from, he was able to figure out which way to go.
This is the key. Moving forward is essential but in order to do so we must understand where we are coming from. The Torah is our collective life experience. Our heritage and our history are our signposts. Using this as our starting point, knowing where we are coming from, we are able to get to where we are going, on the correct path, without straying or getting lost. Yes, progress is an inevitable (and even good) thing. Nonetheless, it must be tempered with a clear understanding and appreciation of where we started out from and what our framework of reference is. In this way, we will be able to chart a clear and bright future, dealing with the challenges of the modern world head on, using progress in a positive manner, to reach our final destination.
By Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg