Shabbat shalom, from Rabbi Eckstein

Shabbat shalom!

Here in Israel, everyone is obsessed with the question of whether Israel will strike Iran in the next few months. True, this is an existential question for those of us living here. We will live or die on the basis of how Israel’s leaders respond to this question.

But this week’s parsha (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17) presents an existential choice each of us must make daily: “ראה אנוכי נותן לפניכם היום ברכה וקללה – Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse.” We have the ability to choose our life’s path for good or for bad. Hopefully, as the Torah says, we will choose life: ובחרת בחיים. 

This Shabbat (Sabbath) is also Rosh Chodesh Elul (beginning of the new month), when we usher in the New Year, pray for forgiveness and long life on Yom Kippur, and rejoice on Sukkot (Tabernacles) as we thank God for our many blessings.

In Kabbalah (mystical Jewish literature) the word Elul (אלול) is an acronym for the words of the Bible, אני לדודי ודודי לי – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Songs 6:3). Today, countless women have this verse engraved on their wedding band as a sign of their love for their spouse, but also of their love and devotion to God.

I am 61 years old and have come to the realization that the essence of life is indeed, as the Torah describes (and as Jesus reaffirmed when asked what the most important commandments are), to love God and to love our fellow man, “ואהבת את ה’ אלוקך – You shall love the Lord your God” and “ואהבת לרעך כמוך – To love your neighbor as yourself.”

If only we were to hear the message of this week’s parsha to “choose life — ובחרת בחיים” in the midst of a world filled with violence and evil. How does one choose life? By loving God and our fellow human being. It’s as simple (or as difficult) as that.

Shabbat shalom, my friends!

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein


Author: Stand For Israel | August 17, 2012
Posted in:  Uncategorized


 

What do you think?

  • rey
    August 19, 2012
    1:23 pm
     

    Take confort in the building of zion…for me zion is israel and my dreams and home is zion

    Reply to this comment »
  • Dan C
    August 17, 2012
    4:49 pm
     

    Again I am convicted by your message and the word of God. It is easy to transfer the hatred of evil onto those perpetrating it, and then to justify acts of violence against them. Experience has taught me that road leads to spiritual death; the word of God tells me this is so; yet it is still difficult not to take this attitude at times.

    I hear that the brother in law of a senior Hamas official has recently been released from an Israeli hospital for treatments that saved his life. A rabid hater of Jews and Israel in particular, he was allowed into Israel because he couldn’t get help within the Muslim communities. It says a lot when a people help their enemies like this. To love your enemy as a fellow human, created in God’s image, is truly to choose spiritual life- to love God and our fellow man. Could I have made this choice, to save this man’s life? I’m not even Jewish, and in truth I don’t know.

    Thank you; always appreciate your insights.

    Reply to this comment »

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