Parasha Mattot-Ma'asei

The words are Ralph Waldo Emerson's, but I cannot help but think he had me in mind as I became your rabbi exactly a year ago.   "Do not follow where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."   My first allegiance is to the Conservative Movement we hold so near and dear, propelling each of our journeys getting closer to our God.  My mandates on my arrival were bringing in new families andinfusing innovative programming into the daily life here at Agudas.    Have we done enough? No!  Are we on the right trail? I like to think, yes.

Our double parsha, Mattot-Ma'asei, begins with a discussion of the laws regarding vows (neder) and oaths (shuva).  Neither seems applicable in our contemporary lifestyle until we arrive at Kol Nidre, where we ask that our vows made before God be annulled.   Other than that, their application is more from a historical perspective.  The parsha distinguishes them with a neder changing the status of an external thing, while a shuva initiates an internal change in the one who swears the oath.   You may have heard very religious people making the statement b'li neder after stating they will do somethingwhich simply means "without making a vow." 

Commitments to the shul should be taken seriously, but I certainly do not expect a vow.   All I ask is that each of you consider partaking of the programming at Agudas.   Some of you are active in one or two areas and others "just thinking about it."   Whatever your level, take it up a notch.   Our staff and leadership are unparalleled, but they can always use an extra hand.  Enhancing our welcoming nature is one place each of us can immediately make a difference.   Just smile, greet, meet and schmooze.  Visit with me; I have lots of thoughts, ideas and plans.  I want to include you!

You probably never thought you would hear a rabbi quote Ralph Waldo Emerson and John Lennon in the same piece, but "Imagine All the People" in the context of Agudas.  Imagine bringing your friends and fellow members to our smorgasbord of activities, be they religious, educational or social.

Please help me get out the word that our prayer experiences, programming and educational activities are incredible and that anyone interested in Judaism in San Antonio has a place here at Agudas.   No matter how innovative our activities and programs are, they are meaningless without YOU!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Jeffrey Abraham

*****I am aware that many of you are awaiting my response to the recent agreement between the P5+1 and Iran.  I will be speaking about this issue tomorrow morning on Shabbat and also please be on the lookout this Tuesday for a special message on my thoughts about the deal with Iran.