CELEBRATING FREEDOM – From History.com
“Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth marks an effective end to slavery in the United States and is considered the longest-running African American holiday.”
It is easy to forget that most Jews in this country were considered other and people of color in their places of origin as well as here initially. In some parts of American society and culture Jews are still feared and reviled. Many “Jews of color”, born or otherwise, encounter injustice from both those who only see their race or skin color and from Jews who treat them as “not really Jewish”. So, today, as we begin our weekly holiday of remembering our own liberation from slavery, among other things, we stand with our fellow human beings on this Juneteenth/Emancipation Day. May all people be free.
A BIT OF TALMUD, etc. – From My Jewish Learning.com
The Talmud (Shevout 39a) concludes a discussion on the domino effect of sin with the Aramaic phrase “Kol Yisrael arevim zeh bazeh,” meaning all of Israel are responsible for each other. Rabbi Yoni Regev of Temple Sinai in Oakland expounded on this idea that we are dependent on one another for our wellbeing and the wellbeing of the world. For me, the word “fear”, an aspect of the Torah portion for this Shabbat, easily fits into this discussion, for it too has a domino effect and we have a responsibility one to the other to shore up and encourage each other. Otherwise, the consequences are deadly.
“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address March 4,1933 as found at historymatters.gmu.edu
AN ALTERNATIVE: ISAIAH’S SIX COMMANDMENTS
He who walks in righteousness, Speaks uprightly, Spurns profit from fraudulent dealings, Waves away a bribe instead of grasping it, Stops his ears against listening to infamy, Shuts his eyes against looking at evil – Such a one shall dwell in lofty security, With inaccessible cliffs for his stronghold, With his food supplied And his drink assured. (Isa. 33:15-16)
Elsewhere, speaking in God’s name, Isaiah says: “Nachamu, nachamu ami. Comfort you, comfort you my people.” (Isa. 40:1)
PARSHA – From ReformJudaism.org
Send (send to you or send for yourself) [Notables to Scout the Land]
The Eternal One spoke to Moses, saying, “Send emissaries to scout the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelite people; send one man from each of their ancestral tribes, each one a chieftain among them.” – Numbers 13:1-2
- Moses sends twelve spies to the Land of Israel to report on the inhabitants and the country. Despite the positive report of Joshua and Caleb, the people are frightened. (13:1–14:10)
- God threatens to wipe out the Children of Israel but relents when Moses intercedes on their behalf. To punish the people, God announces that all those who left Egypt would not enter the Land of Israel except for Joshua and Caleb. (14:11–45)
- Moses instructs the Israelites regarding setting aside challah, the observance of the Sabbath, how to treat strangers, and the laws of tzitzit. (15:1–41)
The haftarah for the parashah is Joshua 2:1-24
We read about the two spies sent by Joshua to Jericho, Rahab the harlot, and “signs”.
“Both the parashah and the haftarah deal with spies sent to scout out the land of Israel, the parashah in connection with the ten scouts sent to reconnoiter the whole land, and the haftarah in connection with the two spies sent to reconnoiter Jericho. Joshua participated in both ventures, as a scout in the parashah, and as the leader who sent the spies in the haftarah. In the parashah, God complained about how the Israelites did not believe the “signs” (אֹתוֹת, ‘otot) that God had sent, and in the haftarah, Rahab asked the spies for a true “sign” (אוֹת, ‘ot) so that she might believe them.
“Whereas in the parashah, the spies were well-known men, in the haftarah, Joshua dispatched the spies secretly. Whereas in the parashah, Moses sent a large number of 12 spies, in the haftarah, Joshua sent just 2 spies. Whereas in the parashah, many of the spies cowered before the Canaanites, in the haftarah, the spies reported that the Canaanites would melt before the Israelites. Whereas in the parashah, the spies reported their findings publicly, in the haftarah, the spies reported directly to Joshua.”
WRESTLING WITH TORAH
Ever since leaving slavery in Egypt our ancestors all too often demonstrated less than admirable behavior on their way to Mt. Sinai, and then again after all they had seen and promised. Now they are on the verge of entering the “Promised Land”. The goal is in sight. They are about to achieve what they set out to do.
And what happens? Instead of listening to the two voices of reason and encouragement they give into the fears and negativity of the ten “leaders”: We are not strong enough. There is not enough. It is not safe enough.
We, too, encounter fear and negativity in ourselves and those around us. For some reason, it seems easy to infect each other with pessimism and reluctance. Why is that? What is it in our natures that holds us back from the risks and chances that are needed to truly succeed? Maybe we need to learn that our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are magnets that draw to us that on which we focus? Changing habits takes a bit of time and effort. The more often we attempt to do so and give up, the more difficult.
Long before President Franklin D. Roosevelt uttered his now famous words quoted above, our prophets, sages and wise ones have told us the same thing over and over and over again. Here is just one example.
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, also known as Reb Nachman of Bratslav, said the following:
Kōl ha’olam kulo gésher tzar m’od, ,כָּל הָעוֹלָם כֻּלוֹ גֶֽשֶׁר צַר מְּאֹד
v’ha’ikar lo l’fachëd k’lal. .וְהָעִיקָר לֹא לְפַחֵד כְּלַל
“The entire world is but a narrow bridge, but the most important thing is not to be afraid.”
What is he saying? For me, he seems to be saying that the way forward is difficult but if we look to the left or the right, we are likely to fall off and never do what we are meant to do. We must find it inside us to help ourselves and each other remain optimistic and positive despite all appearances to the contrary. This is especially incumbent upon those in positions of leadership, and when they become self-serving or fail, for the rest to step up, e.g., the recent protests. Each of us needs to ask ourselves: Am I one of the ten or am I one of the two, and what do I do about it?
The month of Tammuz begins the evening of Sunday, June 21. The Jewish calendar is based on the lunar cycle. A lunar month is about 29 days and twelve hours. In ancient days, the Sanhedrin met on the thirtieth day and based on witnesses who testified that they saw the crescent new moon determined the start of the new month.
Jewish months alternate between 29 and 30 days each. Since Rabbinic times, if a month has thirty days, such as the current month of Sivan, the thirtieth day is observed as Rosh Chodesh together with the next day, the first of the following month. Hence, Rosh Chodesh Tammuz is two days, with 1 Tammuz starting the evening of Monday, June 22.
ROSH CHODESH – FOR THE NEW MONTH – From “Mishkan T’filah / A Reform Siddur” p.519
Our God and God of our ancestors may the new month bring us goodness and blessing. May we have long life, peace, prosperity, a life exalted by love of Torah and reverence for the divine; a life in which the longings of our hearts are fulfilled for good.
We recite MI SHEBËRACH for the victims of brutality, abuse, fear, natural disasters, pandemics, violence, and war; for all those in need of physical, emotional, and mental healing. “R’fuah sh’lëmah” – a complete recovery!
We say KADDISH YATOM for those of our friends and families who have died and been buried this last week; those in the period of Sh’loshim (30 days since burial); those who have died in the last year; and those whose Yahrzeits/Anyos occur at this time; as well as the victims of brutality, disease, natural disasters, war and violence. We remember, too, those victims of the Shoah (Holocaust) who died at this time of year and have us to say “Kaddish” for them. “Zichronam liv’rachah” – May their memories be for blessing.
ONLINE SERVICES – 7 PM
Being a part of, contributing to and connecting with Temple Kol Hamidbar helps us fulfill our three-fold purpose as a Beit Tefillah (House of Prayer), a Beit Midrash (House of Study) and a Beit Knesset (House of Community).
Usually we start our in-person Friday Evening Services at 7:30 PM. Based on recent experience and delays that sadly caused some of those joining us to leave, it makes sense to start our online Friday Evening Services at 7 PM instead. Although there are a few glitches in learning how to use Zoom, once things are underway, it works out relatively well.
Gathering in person is still sometime in the future. Until then, you can do so virtually by joining us online this evening:
Topic: Erev Shabbat Service
Time: Jun 19, 2020 07:00 PM Arizona
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 725 1050 0854
Hint: The last character of the password is the number zero.
You may also access Erev Shabbat Services directly through the Temple Kol Hamidbar website at https://templekol.com/live-services-and-events/
Shabbat Shalom – Buen Shabbat!