Shabbat Parashat Yitro We Are One January 21, 2022 – 20 Shevat 5782

Dear Friends,

Since my Sabbatical begins this Sunday, this will be the final Tidbits of Torah until I return from my Sabbatical on May 9th.  During my Sabbatical, I will be spending some time in Israel and I look forward to coming back refreshed!

This has been a difficult week and I want to reflect on the events that took place in Colleyville, Texas, in the context of our weekly Torah portion and share some of my thoughts with you.

In our Shabbat Mincha prayers we say: “You are One, and Your name is One, and who like Your people, Israel, are One.”

What does this mean?

It means that, You, God, are One.  But we, the Jewish people, are also One.  And, no matter how divided we may seem, we are all a part of one very unique and distinct people.

This past Shabbat, the events that took place in the synagogue in Collleyville, Texas, reminded us once again that we are, indeed, all a part of one very unique and distinct people.

Our tradition teaches us that we all stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah.  Then, as now, each one of us receives Torah and understands it in accordance with our individual neshama [soul].   Nevertheless, then and now, we stand together and understand ourselves to be part of a whole people – part of something greater than ourselves.

This Shabbat, we read the weekly Torah portion of Yitro, including the Ten Commandments.  Traditionally, we stand for the reading of the Ten Commandments from the Torah scroll, symbolically connecting ourselves with the moment in which our people received Torah at Mount Sinai and with all the Jewish people the world-over, today.  We are One.

Then and now, we stand together, proud of our heritage and of our tradition, even as we take practical measures to protect ourselves from those who would wish to destroy us.

We do so because our Torah is beautiful.  We do so because our Torah is a Tree of Life.  We do so because our Torah is a source of inspiration and a guide as we navigate our individual and communal paths in a complex world.  Ashreinu, [How blessed are we] that we have Torah and we have community to embrace us, even as we embrace our Torah and our community.

May we always stand together, even as we hear and understand Torah in our unique and individual ways.

May we always be proud of our heritage and of our community.

And, may we always be blessed with loving connections that give us strength, courage, and inspiration, to continue working toward a time of ultimate redemption – a time of true and lasting peace – a time of true understanding and mutual respect among all the peoples of the world!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror