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Rabbi Safman's Weekly Message

Dear Friends,

As we join together to celebrate Shabbat we invite you to bring a kiddush cup or any glass filled with wine or grape juice and join together with us at the end of services to share in a l'chayim.

I look forward to celebrating Shabbat with you.

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Shabbat Hagadol 5784 – April 19, 2024

At our recent Chocolate Seder, Ariella, a young girl who is seven years of age, came to my table to ask me a question. Seems appropriate that at a seder a child asks a question.  As she was returning from skipping to the door to open it for Elijah the Prophet, she turned to me and asked “Who is Elijah, and why did I open the door for him?”

So, I had to think, how do I answer the question? Do I tell her that Elijah was a prophet of God who is going to return to bring hope to our world and a messianic age? Then I would have to tell her what a messianic age means. Perhaps I should tell her that we all need Elijah, since when he does come, we believe he will bring peace into our world, and God knows we need it now! Should I tell her that he was coming to find some chocolate milk on her table, or the adult chocolate liqueur that was also there, since that cup was reserved for him? Or perhaps I should tell her that according to our tradition we do not know whether we are supposed to drink four or five cups of grape juice or wine at our seder, or in the case of our chocolate one, four or five cups of chocolate milk or liqueur?

This Shabbat is Shabbat Hagadol. It is called Shabbat Hagadol because in our haftorah we actually read about the promise of the coming of Elijah “to reconcile parents with children, and children with their parents.” As our commentary in the Etz Hayim Chumash suggests the reconciliation of parents and children will “forestall” the “fearful day.” That fearful day is the day of the destruction of the world as we know it. So, parents and children coming together to celebrate the seder might be a solution to if not our world’s problems, then the Jewish world’s problems. The hope is that it is both.  It is only in studying the haftorah this week, that I came to this new realization that the prophet Elijah’s arrival at our seder is to bring reconciliation amongst parents and children. Honestly, I had never really concentrated on that as a rationale for Elijah’s cup at our sedarim, until my study of the text this week.

I am reminded of the story of the husband who lives in Florida telling his wife that “It’s all set – all of the kids are coming down for Pesach.” The wife responded: “It worked.” He said, “Sure did, told them that we were getting a divorce but we wanted one more time together as a family before we split, and there would be no more Passovers together.” To which the wife responded: “And now how are we going to get them down here again for Rosh Hashanah?”

Hope is the reason we open the door for Elijah. We all have hope for a day when a Messianic age, or the Mashiach, will come to our world and end the hatred, cruelty, and wars.

This year as we are about to celebrate Passover, clearly our thoughts for this Shabbat Hagadol are centered on Israel, hope for peace in Israel and the region, a return of the hostages from Gaza and, an end to anti-Semitism. Is that too much to ask for? Would it be wrong for Elijah to bring peace to those who are at this moment living in Gaza, and have been held hostage as civilians by Hamas who have taken over the territory?

The Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, in their supplement for Passover 2024, offered the following reading:

To Hold onto Hope Without Letting Go

Oded Mazor (Translated by Ayelet Cohen and adapted by Noam Zion)

Oded Mazor recited this prayer at a demonstration for the release of captives in Jerusalem in 2023.

“For everything, there is a season … under Heaven….

A time for weeping and a time for laughing,

A time for mourning and a time for dancing …

A time for war and a time for peace. " (Ecclesiastes 3: 1,4,8)

In those days when each time collapses into the next

We have no choice but to cry and to laugh with the same eyes

To mourn and to dance at the same time

And the long arc of history is compressed into one day and one hour.

We ask for the strength to contain

The intensity of our bursting hearts,

To rejoice with those who are fortunate to embrace today,

To enfold all of those withdrawing into their longing, their souls trembling,

To hold onto hope without letting go,

And to leave some quiet space for a silent scream.

Please, grant us the room to shatter into pieces,

And the spirit to be rebuilt anew.

 

On behalf of my family, our congregational executive board, our office managers, and our board of directors, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom and a Pesach full of meaning, memories, and newfound experiences that our families may share and recount in years to come.

As our friends and family in Israel face the fear and uncertainty that accompany the threat of an even broader war, my heart is with them praying for their safety and a lasting peace in the region.

May the hope, hatikvah, that we pray for in our seder experience, lead us, the people of Israel, and Jews around the world, to the day when that one little goat that chad gadya, will live and enjoy peace in our lives and our world. May it be so not only for us, but for all those who seek peace in our world.

Am Yisrael Chai.

Shabbat Shalom and a zissen pesach.

 

Thu, April 25 2024 17 Nisan 5784