Parasha Emor

A great blessing one can have is the ability to give to others.  Hosting guests and taking care of their meals is the best way to manifest this. Guests care much more about your attitude towards them than the expense or beauty of the surroundings.

This week's Torah portion, Emor, addresses Jewish holidays (Shabbat, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, Pesach, etc.) We are called upon to celebrate these holidays joyously with the imperative to make sure we are sharing the joy with others-our families, as well as guests we can bring into our homes.  In fact, we are taught that taking care of a guest's needs takes precedence over one's relationship with God.  However, our Torah is urging us to do more than just inviting guests into our homes; we need to help out others everywhere.

Two weeks ago, Nepal suffered a massive earthquake that killed thousands, injured thousands more, and devastated an entire country. Nations around the world sent aid, with Israel leading the way.  As Jews, this incredible act of national chesed (kindness) fills us with pride. This tiny country-the Jewish state-was ready, in a matter of hours, to send two hundred and fifty soldiers to build a field hospital and begin searching for survivors in the wreckage. Israel's chesed should spur us to follow suit.

How can we explain the scale, scope and speed of Israel's national response? Israel acts because it can, and so it must. It recognizes that as a Jewish state, its ability to use the IDF's knowledge and training obligates it to act, help, and save lives. But in the process, Israel is also creating aKiddush Hashem (sanctifying God's name) on a scale that no community of individuals could ever achieve on its own. Of course, we are proud. But we also recognize that our work to support the Jewish state benefits not only Israel but people everywhere. This strengthens our resolve to ensure that Israel will always have the means, strength and ability to come to the aid of people in need, anywhere in the world. 

As we similarly see riots in Baltimore and (yes, even) Tel Aviv over the last couple of weeks, we also need to have our voices heard to stand up for what is just, while encouraging all to do so in a non-violent manner.  God has bestowed much upon each of us.  Our gift of the ability to make others happy and to give to them allows us, briefly, to be "God-like."  Our own enjoyment of the world is incomplete if we cannot share it with others. Make the effort to have an open home and bring others into God's ambit.


Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham