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Posted By The Stash

Rabbi Sacks' “Followership” (A very appropriate lesson before Yom Hashoah):

http://www.rabbisacks.org/kedoshim-5774-followership/

 
Posted By The Stash
A Thought on the Torah Reading of Shabbat

We read today (and on Shabbat Chol Ha'Moed Sukkot) how G-d marked the forgiveness of Bnai Yisrael by allowing Moses to go back up Mt. Sinai and receive a new set of commandments. But why do we read this section on the Shabbat Chol Ha'moed (the Intermediate Shabbat) of both Pesach and Sukkot? What message connects the reading to these holy and happy days?

The Israelites calamitously agreed to worship the Golden Calf when the memory of their miraculous deliverance from slavery was still very fresh. Yet Moses' intercession with the Divine saved them. G-d, playing the role of the hurt and angry parent, was nonetheless persuaded to show mercy upon his children, the People of Israel. This sort of behaviour is all too understandable: how often do we suffer from the callous and apparently thoughtless behaviour of various family members and friends? Yet we often forgive for the sake of family and friendship even when conditions don't seem to warrant it. This is an example of chessed, of kindness that is unmerited, but the exercise of which sustains the world.

Why should we forgive? Because the contrition of the wrongdoer is significant, tangible, and demands our attention. The Israelites' sin was very great; but their contrition was real. Given the fact that we are all too full of human failings, how can we not show empathy for these errors and offer one more chance, especially to those we profess to love?

The world is built not just on justice, but on kindness. Sukkot and Pesach are about Divine and human kindness. Sukkot marks Divine Providence at its most manifest, as farmers take in their crops thankful that the rains sufficed for growth, but did not lead to floods. On Pesach, amidst Egyptian cruelty, we remember those many Egyptians-- like Pharoah's daughter and the midwives Shifra and Puah, who heroically stood up to genocide. If human justice does not follow the forms of Divine justice--the state will be unfit for dignified and safe life. But without chessed, without kindness that goes beyond the norm, even the just state will only be defined by law and lack humanity. These are the true characteristics of the simcha, the happiness that marks both Pesach and Sukkot, and explains why our Torah reading is so appropriate.

 
Posted By The Stash
From Rabbi Sacks: Sprints and Marathons
 
Posted By The Stash
From Rabbi Sacks: How to Praise
 

 

 
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