- This week marked the 7th of Adar. It’s the day Moshe Rabbeinu was born as well as the day he passed away. Notice that when we say his name, we invariably declare that he is the rabbi of all of us: Moshe Rabbeinu, meaning “Moshe our rabbi.”
- Moshe, our greatest leader and the most influential individual in human history, is described in the Torah as a modest and humble man, who was “slow of speech and of a slow tongue.” In other words, he had a speech disorder. This raises the question: Today, would we choose to follow a non-charismatic leader with a speech impediment? Do we pay attention to a person’s inner strength of character and true convictions or to their outer appearance and speaking ability?
- Did he fulfill his life’s mission? Moshe led the people in the desert for forty years, but was not himself privileged to hear the words: “You have arrived at your destination.” His life teaches us that there is significance not only in our own accomplishments, but in what happens along the way — in the desire, effort, and hope that we inspire. And perhaps the journey and the mission on which we embark will be completed by others.
- Political, economic, and military leaders are important. Ultimately, however, a teacher and educator of the people has more influence than any of them.
- Since it’s not known where Moshe Rabbeinu is buried, the anniversary of his death has become a day of remembrance for all those who fell in Israel’s wars but did not have or have not yet had a proper burial. This is the day to remember Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul – who fell in battle in Gaza in 2014 and whose bodies have yet to be returned – and other casualties of war who are still missing.
To Fill The Void
Shira, the social director of Har Bracha, the home of the two recent terrorist attack victims, asked me to write a few words to the young members of that community. I sent her the following message:
“It’s enough to look at the picture of Hallel Menachem and Yagel Ya’akov Yaniv in order to appreciate the immensity of this loss. You see the sweetness and goodness that radiates from their faces. But unlike myself, you were privileged to know them personally and not only through a picture. To live side by side two young men who suddenly became holy, their souls stormily ascending to heaven.
They were not murdered for being Hallel Menachem and Yagel Ya’akov but only because they were Jews. In this sense, they were emissaries of all of us.
Every Jew who is taken from us leaves a void that needs to be filled. Regarding the friends of the one who is killed we say: “When one member of the group dies – the rest of the group worries”. What does worrying have to do with it? Should the friends of the departed live in fear and trepidation? Absolutely not. The idea is that the friends will make sure to fill the void left by their absence. Their friends will not stop worrying until they have built more, brought greater stability, and strengthened not only their community but the entire nation of Israel.
Their mother Esti – after the family decided to donate the young men’s organs – said that they were on their way to a Torah study session and she asked that all of us should make learning Torah our mission too.
Last Shabbat they were with us when we read from the Torah, but this coming Shabbat they will not be with us when we will read: ‘Remember what Amalek did to you’. Amalek takes advantage of doubt, disunity, confusion, or weakness. Yet every act that promotes unity, mutual responsibility, strength of purpose, and greater faith – leads to the ultimate victory over him.
Sending condolences to everyone, may we hear only good news”.
The Light We Create Is There, Even When We Don’t See It
Shavua tov from London. Ever since this past Shabbat began, a thought from Rebbetzin Rachie Binstock has stayed with me.
We were sitting in the living room of Lauren Breslauer who hosted a Kabbalat Shabbat for women. Girls, mothers, and grandmothers from the neighborhood had gathered there to sing all the Kabbalat Shabbat songs. I have been to many Kabbalot Shabbat in many different styles, but had never experienced anything like this: women coming together simply to sing the psalms of King David in those special moments when the six days of the week come to an end and Shabbat begins.
And then Rebbetzin Binstock, who had organized this special Kabbalat Shabbat, shared a powerful message with us:
“We have now lit the Shabbat candles and we see their light in front of our eyes. Our sages say that each mitzvah we perform creates light, even when we do not see it. We need to know that each positive action creates spiritual light. Try to imagine how each good thing that you do – giving tzedakah, saying a blessing, helping another person – brings a little more light into the world.”
Translation by Yehoshua Siskin.