10/22/2015

Shabbat Leh Leha

Candles Friday October 22 5:44pm
Havdalah 23rd 6:38pm

Kiddush in memory of Mr Molemzadeh ע״ה

Avraham is regarded as the founder of Monotheism. What makes him so remarkable is that his religious commitment did not lead him to withdraw into his own private world, but he interacted with everyone he came into contact with. Hecwas literally a man of the world. One might think that he was the equivalent of the New Age belief that love conquers all and if you accept all human beings as good everyone will love you.

Abraham clearely distinguishes between people you can deal with and those you cannot. He lives in an era of tribal warfare and climatic disasters. A famine forces him down to Egypt for food and he enters into a treaty with Pharaoh. His wife is the diplomatic pawn and when Pharoah discovers it they are “bought off” and leave. He encounters Malchizedek, a priest. He recognizes him as a good man and gives him tithes. He gets caught up in a fight between the kings of Sodom and Amora and invading kings. He succeeds in fighting off the aggressors and rescuing his nephew Lot. But he refuses any money from them, recognizing they are corrupt even though he didv accept money from Pharaoh. He will not touch tainted money. There are some people you can deal with. Others you must avoid.

It sounds strange that he is promised Divine blessing and yet he faces such human, personal and natural obstacles. No one said it would be easy. A blessing is no guarantee, only a spur to try harder to succeed.

10/15/2015

Shabbat Noah


Candles Friday 16th 5:54pm
Havdalah 17th at 6.48pm

Kidush this week kindly hosted by Hana and Clement Salama
In memory of Hana's late beloved father Shalom ben Sarah and Eliezer z"l
Noah, for all that he “walked with God” did not have any impact on the people around him beyond his immediate family. They were the only humans he managed to persuade to join him.

After the flood, the Torah gives some rules (later known as the Seven Noah commands for humanity in general) to help regenerated humanity try to succeed a second time. This theme of a second chance, started with Adam and Eve, goes on to Noah’s flood and continues with the Children of Israel getting a second chance after the Golden Calf.

But why do humans mess up so often?

Some people suggest humans are inherently evil. The Torah this week offers this alternative explanation. “There is an inclination (tendency) within the heart of humanity that is bad from childhood/youth”(Genesis 8.21).

In other words we are not born bad or good. We are born with capacities to do good or bad and these capacities are influenced by home, society and opportunity. The role of religion is to ensure that the other tendency, to do good and be kind, is developed and encouraged too. Sometimes it will overcome selfish egos but sometimes it will not.

The Torah gives us advice but of course it is up to us to make the right decisions.