October 14, 2015 · 5:48 pm
art by Laya Crust
Parshat Noah October 2015, 5776
This is a very difficult time in many parts of the world, but the horrors in Israel touch me very closely. I am an ardent Zionist and a Jew. I have children and grandchildren who live in Israel, including in Jerusalem. I have many friends and relatives there. I just came back from that miraculous country but while I was there 4 people were viciously murdered by Palestinian terrorists. Since then more murders have occurred. My first thoughts in the morning and my last thoughts at night are of Eitam and Na’ama Henkin z”l (may they be remembered as a blessing) who were murdered only because they were Jewish and lived in Israel. That’s the only reason! I think of their 4 children who will grow up without their wonderful parents. And I can’t understand it.
Last week in synagogue we read the story of the creation of the world and humanity. We also read about the first murder. Cain, jealous of Abel, killed him. God said, “The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground….the ground which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand… “
“The voice of your brother’s blood…” Such powerful words.
After God gave mankind free choice murder occurred, even at the very beginning. It’s impossible to understand.
There is an interesting animated movie going on in the Middle East. Syria, Iraq, Islamic State,Afghanistan, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen are like balls of flame, burning in war and hatred. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Iraq are brimming with unrest and dictatorship. And in the middle of it all Israel, a jewel of green land and democracy, stands on its own against the surrounding chaos, refusing to get sucked in.
Yet, there are these terrible, tragic losses of life.
This week we read the story of Noah in the Bible. Sick of humanity’s cruelty God destroyed the world by flooding it. The rainbow we see after a rainfall is the symbol of God’s oath that the world will never be entirely destroyed again.
Many of us sit in our chairs praying for peace in Israel and the rest of the world. We can’t understand God’s allowing the violence to continue or the terrorism raging in Israel’s streets or the loss of the young, exceptional parents of 6 children. We can only do what Israelis are doing in Israel- live good lives, do acts of kindness, and don’t allow hatred to rule our minds and actions.
With prayers for peace, health and beauty,
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April 23, 2014 · 5:02 pm
Amos 9: 7-15
Amos (prophet) died c.745 BCE. He was a shepherd in Tekoa in Judea where he prophesied from 765 to 750 B.C.E.
We have just finished celebrating the memorable holiday of Pesach- that holiday devoted to remembering how God liberated us from slavery in ancient Egypt. It is fitting that we begin our post-Pesach readings with parshat “Kedoshim”. In “Kedoshim” God first reviews the ten commandments. He continues by telling b’nei Yisrael (the children of Israel) how He will punish them if they stray from the commandments. The parsha ends with God telling the Israelites that they shall be holy- that God has set them apart from the other nations.
In our haftarah Amos tells the Jews that God treasures and judges all peoples. Amos tells them that the Jews are not the only nations that God has saved or punished. The Cush (Ethiopians), Philistines (Europeans) and Arameans (Asians) are all mentioned as having been saved from their captors. Amos continues by warning the Jews that they will be punished for their sins. Amos’ prophecy ends by foreseeing the time when God will “reestablish the fallen tabernacle of David”. He tells them that the children of Israel will plant vineyards and drink their wine, and the hills will wave with grain. The haftarah ends with the words, “And I will plant them on their soil, nevermore to be uprooted.”
What a wonderful phrase!
The image of the Jew in Israel among the orchards and the waving wheat inspired this haftarah’s image. I chose to model my painting on a photograph of a “chalutz” (pioneer) in the Jezreel Valley. The photograph, taken by Shmuel Joseph Zweig in 1946, is a perfect illustration- proof, even- of God’s promise to us, His people. We are back in Eretz Yisrael, our land, tilling the fields and surrounded by its bounty.
We are blessed to be witness to the realization of Amos’ prophecy. As we said at the seder, “Next year in Jerusalem.” And continuing with this haftarah’s conclusion, “Nevermore to be uprooted from the soil I have given them- said the Lord your God.”
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Have a wonderful Shabbat.
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