Torah Tidbits

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Marking the Beginning of a New Century at RST   

Shabbat Parashat VaYechi

December 14, 2013 – 11 Tevet 5774   

Marking the Beginning of a New Century at RST

We had the most amazing centennial celebration at RST this past weekend thanks to the phenomenal coordination and work of our magnificent volunteers, staff, and participants!  All of our generations came together to create a tremendous sense of energy and vision as we honored our founders and celebrated the contributions of all of our members and friends.  Yasher koach to all who dedicated their souls, hearts, minds, and talents to a look at our past, celebration of the present, and and to dreaming, thinking and planning for our future!

This week the world paid tribute to Nelson Mandela – a person who came to understand that ways of peace can be very powerful;  a person who changed the face of South Africa and gave a sense of hope and inspiration to so many people all over the world.

At the same time, this Shabbat we remember the victims of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  And, sadly, since that incident a year ago, violence has not ceased to plague us.  As a nation, we are intensively involved in an on-going discussion of the best ways to promote ways of peace and security for our children, for our schools, and for our society in general. 

What strikes me is the parallel to our weekly Torah portion, VaYechi, in which we read the continuation of the Joseph story, and the message of that story.  Violence was certainly a part of the Joseph story.  Yet, the story moves beyond the initial violence that plagued our Biblical family, and a reconciliation was effected. 

We don’t know whether Joseph told Jacob all the details of how he was treated by his brothers.  If he did, we certainly don’t know exactly how Jacob and Joseph spoke of the difficult times that affected their family life so profoundly. 

What we do know is that the Joseph story reminds us of the price we all pay for violence. It also reminds us that we need not accept violence as a permanent feature in our world; that we can hope and work toward a world in which ways of peace are the dominant force that determines the quality of our lives  and the nature of our world.

As we mark the beginning of a new century at RST, let us resolve to do all that is in our power to promote the vision of our prophets – that there will be a world of true and lasting peace – a world in which human dignity is respected and in which human life is preserved.  Let us resolve to do all that is in our power to help that vision become a reality, speedily, and in our time!

Shabbat Shalom! 

Rabbi Gilah Dror