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72ND ANNUAL CONGREGATIONAL MEETING


The 72nd Annual Congregational Meeting of Temple Israel and the election of its Officers and new members of its Board of Trustees will take place on:
Tuesday, July 13, 2021 at 6:30 PM* in the Shul Parking lot and via Zoom

*Please note evening Minyan will follow at 7:30 PM.
Meeting Link: https://zoom.us/j/95509935092 Meeting ID: 955 0993 5092 Passcode: TI Call-In Access: +19292056099, 95509935092#, *396093#

A Message from Rabbi Eligberg

A Tidbit of Torah Parshat Chukkat 5781

At Mount Hor, on the boundary of the land of Edom, the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 
"Let Aaron be gathered to his kin…” (Literally, gathered unto his people)                      Bamidbar / Numbers 20:23-24

"Let Aaron be gathered unto his people… that is to say,” writes Rabbi Baruch of Tulchin1, “that Aaron’s attributes and positive qualities will enter into and be diffused into the fabric of the Israelites as a nation so that Aaron’s holiness will not be lost from the midst of the people.” Rabbi Baruch asserts that through Aaron’s lifetime of leadership and service the Israelites have learned to emulate the behavioral norms associated with Aaron. The sages of the midrash describe how Aaron sought to defuse conflicts, bring people together, restore communal harmony, and foster peace in places of strife. This reaches its ultimate expression in the Misnah‘s teaching2, “Be a disciple of Aaron, a lover of peace and a pursuer of peace, a lover of all other people, and draw them closer to the Torah.”

Implicit in this teaching is the belief that nations come to embody the traits of their notable leaders, their actions setting the tone for their citizenry, and inspiring them to greater achievements. The words and examples of towering historical figures echo through time demanding that we give them a contemporized expression by incorporating those values into our lives. At a moment when we are experiencing a precipitous decline in civil discourse, a deepening and dangerous societal divide, and a growing disregard for the dignity for others we need our leaders and public officials to personify the respect for others that characterized Aaron’s tenure as an Israelite leader, prioritizing knitting together the fractured elements of our country.

Shabbat Shalom –

Rabbi David M. Eligberg

 

1 Rabbi Baruch of Tulchin, grandson of the Ba’al Shem Tov, served as leader of the Hasidim of Podolia and later Medzhibozh where he held court in a lavish manner, with festival celebrations featuring carousels, dancers, and excited crowds of his followers. While adroit in his leadership of his Hasidic community he never wrote on Hasidic doctrines, only a few of his sermons were published and the collection of aphorisms entitled Buzina de-Nehorah (The Luminous Torch) ascribed to him is probably apocryphal.

2 Avot 1:12 

 

A Message From Cantor Marx

 

During this week’s Torah portion, Hukat, the people of Israel complain about the lack of water.  God instructs Moses and Aaron to take a staff and gather the people in front of a certain rock. They should speak to the rock, and it will give forth water. Moses and Aaron get the thirsty people, and Moses, in a moment of weakness, strikes the rock and it gives forth water. Soon after that God tells Moses and Aaron that they will not be allowed in the land of Israel. Tradition understands this as a punishment for striking the rock instead of speaking to it.

I think this is one of the situations that the punishment does not fit the crime. We are all guilty of sometimes acting out in regrettable ways when the pressure is too high. At times when we have our backs against the wall, we might say things we regret later. Moses is given a task that makes no sense, talk to an inanimate object and a miracle will happen. We are all given instructions that many times makes no sense and or that we disagree with. Moses was perhaps God’s most loyal servant, and the punishment of his of lapse of momentary judgement cost him greatly.

Parents deal with this issue on perhaps a daily basis. Many times, kids do not see the full picture, and parents try hard to avoid the kids from being punished by life’s harsh lessons. May all life’s punishments, parents punishments and God’s punishments fit the “crime”, and may we all reach the promised land.

Last Week's Messages

A Tidbit of Torah - Parshat Korach 5781

For all the community are holy, all of them, and the Lord is in their midst.                      Bamidbar / Numbers 16:3

Our parasha opens with a challenge to the authority of Moses and Aaron as leaders of the Israelites. Korah and his cohorts, Datan and Aviram, "rise up against Moses together with two hundred and fifty Israelites." Their claim against Moses and Aaron: "You have gone too far! For all the community are holy, all of them, and the Lord is in their midst. Why then do you raise yourselves above the Lord's congregation?"

At first glance, Korah seems to be calling for democratization within the Israelite community. Rashi comments on the phrase, "for all of the congregation is holy” staying, “They all heard the words of Sinai from the mouth of God" and were all elevated as a result. Two modern Israeli commentators expose how, on closer examination, Korah's contention fails to understand the nature of holiness and God’s expectations of the people.

Rav Shmuel Avigdor HaCohen asks, "How can it be that the entire nation of Israel is composed only of holy people? The truth is that within any nation, one finds people of all types. There are those who are superlative, those who are average, those who are less than average, and then there are those who are truly evil people. In any mass of people, one finds a spectrum of opinions. This claim that "the entire congregation is holy" is possible only if one neutralizes the value of holiness. When there is no longer a difference between the holy and profane, between that which is pure and that which is impure, between a saint and a criminal - only then can one deem an entire group of individuals equally 'holy'.” (Likrat Shabbat, translated from the Hebrew, 156-157). While each person possesses an inherent holiness, this is not the same as the holiness which is a product of personal conduct.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz focuses on Korach’s claim that the entire Israelite community is already holy, "kulam kedoshim," “everyone is holy” negates God's commandment to the Israelites, in Leviticus 19:2, "You will be holy." Leibowitz writes, “That is to say, becoming holy is a difficult and challenging process. It is a journey that takes time - even a lifetime. One must be attentive to sanctifying every moment of one's life.” Korah's assertion completely misunderstands the holiness expected of the Israelites. According to Leibowitz, while Korah wants to argue that the people have all achieved holiness, in truth, they, as individuals, and as a nation, have only begun their journey. We, as their descendants, continue on the journey of aspiring to holiness; a long and winding road into the Divine Presence.

Shabbat Shalom –

Rabbi David M. Eligberg

 

Rabbi recently appeared on Albany Street, click below for audio:

AlbanyStreetPart1-3-28-21

AlbanyStreetPart2-3-28-21

 


This week’s Torah Portion Korach deals with a fellow who challenges the system and those in power. To this day people like Korach are not appreciated by those in control. In his case, Korach rebelled against Moses along with many co-conspirators and were punished for their rebellion when God sent fire from heaven to consume all of them. Korach's allies, Datan and Abiram, were also punished when God caused the ground to split open beneath their feet swallowing them, their families, anyone associated with Korach, and all their possessions.

We see nowadays so many cases when people go against their governments, and some of them suffer the same final consequence that Korach and friends met. Some are put in jail, or suffer other types of treatments. There are many regimes that do not accept peacefully movements that question their authority. Questioning the powers to be should not be met with dire consequences. Democratic societies change through elections and not rebellions. But there are times even in democratic societies that peaceful questioning the status quo can cause important changes to take place.

Korach messed with the wrong person; he questioned Moses and God’s instructions. Korach did not actually want “people” to have power; rather, he personally wanted authority and prestige and framed rebellion as something he was doing for the greater good. He went about it the wrong way. The cult of a personality was frowned upon, so much so that Moses burial place remained unknown from the people, so it would not become a place for people to visit.

Korach lost, but you could win this coming Monday, June 14 at 7:30pm, when you will be tasked with Naming That Voice”. I will play sounds and Speeches from Jewish, kind of Jewish and not Jewish at all people, and you have to choose among 4 choices. It will be a fun evening that all can participate. The winner’s prize will be announced before the game. I hope you will join me.

Fri, June 18 2021 8 Tammuz 5781