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Parshas Shmini - Past, Present & Future of Acheinu Kol Beis Yisroel        26 Adar II 5784

04/05/2024 10:56:12 AM


I received this communication from Rabbi Shlomo Hecht. Rav Shlomo, Inbal and the Hecht family lived in our community for a few years and has maintained contact with the Beth Jacob community. He sent me the following important beautiful message:


I`m sending you a lovely idea coming out of Beit Hillel, in which I am a member.

Many Israeli communities will hold a Shabbat soon dedicated to Diaspora Jewry, led by us together with the Israeli government's Ministry of Diaspora Affairs. The goal is to get to know your reality better, understand your challenges, and strengthen the bonds of brotherhood between us. The congregations in Israel will address the issue of Diaspora Jewry that Shabbat in classes, community meetings and sermons. It will take place on Shabbat Shmini-HaChodesh, 5-6.4.24, כ”ז אדר ב’.

These difficult times teach us how important and vital the connection between Jews around the world is for us as a people. I`m appealing to you to write a short letter to be delivered to an Israeli community in honor of this Shabbat. This is an opportunity for direct communication with a community in Israel. Of what should they be aware? What would you like to say to them?

Thank you for your help in strengthening the bond between Diaspora and Israeli communities and Jewish brotherhood.”

The following is the message I shared with the Beit Hillel community:

Predictions are just that -predictions. Inevitably, someone’s assumptions will be correct while all the others will not. During the first few weeks after the October 7th massacre in southern Israel, the Israel Defense Forces prepared for war. Many predictions as to the length of the war were made. I clearly recall someone somewhere saying the war will last at least six months if not more. Well, this week the Orthodox Union campaigned to have 180,000 signatures and letters sent to the President of the United States in support of Israel. The number of signatures, one hundred eighty thousand, represented the 180 days since the war began. I personally did not think that the war would go on for this long, but then again, I am not the Prime Minister, nor do I live in Israel or have the battlefield experience to calculate the time such a complex mission would take. Nevertheless, Jews around the world rallied for our brethren in Eretz Yisrael.

In the beginning, fear and horror gripped the Jewish people throughout the world, especially in Israel. But Israel doesn’t just sit and think; it must act. That action took place as a massive number of reservists were called up for the initial phase of the war. The Jews in the diaspora also acted, sending supplies, raising money, learning for the sake of the war effort and our people, praying fervently during and after each service of Shacharis, Mincha, and Maariv. During the initial shock, we joined together with the greater San Diego Jewish community, holding vigils and rallies in support of the families who lost lives and for the maimed and injured. The orthodox community banded together for the sole purpose of Tefilla and reciting of Tehilim for words we did not have to express our grief, support and compassion. Our Shul, Beth Jacob, joined many Shuls, adding “Avinu Malkeinu” during Shacharis and Mincha - even on Shabbos - which came along with its own halachik query.

In addition, there was a list of the names of the Shvuyim, captive Jews taken as hostages, that I printed out and distributed in conjunction with creating two large signs which were be placed on the Bimah of the Shul to identify and connect with the names, even though we don’t know these individuals personally. Another Shul, Adat Yeshurun, printed up small cards with Tefillos and a ‘Mi Shebeirach for the Shvuyim/captives and for all of those who were injured. Since October 8th, we at Beth Jacob recite Tehilim 121 & 130 after Shacharis every day including Shabbos. In the afternoon after Mincha, we recite two Tehilim from 13, 79, 83, 121, 130, 140 and 142, followed by the two Mi Shebeirachs followed by the recitation of Acheinu Kol Beis Yisrael by the Tzibbur (congregation).  

Our challenge in the diaspora is the fact we live our daily lives but also need to make a concerted effort to remember, to pay attention to what continues to take place in  Israel every day.  We need to grapple with the fact that the hostages are not home - and that an unknown number of them have been killed. We face the constant dilemma of how communal life, Shabbos kiddush, simchos, general happy occurrences continue to take place while simultaneously reminding ourselves to keep up with daily, ongoing effects of a difficult, complex war Israel - not only in Gaza but also building in the North as well.  I am concerned that many people have “disconnected” from what is happening in Israel. Even the twice daily recitation of Tehillim has become the norm, causing those who do so with focused reason to remind others of the vital importance for doing so.   But this is the point, that we are still saying Tehilim every day, twice a day, to consciously grasp hold of deep feelings of connection to our brethren who are still facing the challenging effects of the war. We who live in the diaspora are experiencing a sharp rise in antisemitic acts. Jews throughout America have become more concerned about their politics and about the effects the war is having in Israel and on Jews in America and throughout the Western world.  We Jews living in America saw an amazing show of support for Israel during the first four to five months of the war. Recently, however, these feelings have shifted. Today, we Jews living in America receive Chizuk/strength from the Jews living in Israel as they continue the fight for our Homeland (believe it or not, Israel is home to even the Jews in the diaspora). Perhaps we can see the shift based upon an analysis from the Torah.

In this week’s Parshas Shmini the Torah states in Vayikra 9:1 "ויהי ביום השמיני קרא משה לאהרן ולבניו, ולזקני ישראל"   “On the eighth day, Moshe summoned Aharon, his sons, and the elders of Israel”. Rashi explains that the eighth day of the consecration is the first (day) of the month of Nissan, the very day when the Tabernacle/Mishkan was erected. The Dubno Maggid, using the Gemara Megillah 10b, explains the first Vayehi as a trouble and the word V’Haya as a sign of joy. The word Haya is in the past tense, but when a vav is added it becomes the future tense. On the other end, the word Yehi is a term describing the future, while adding that same letter vav, turns it back to the past tense. The seven days prior to this day, from the 23rd of Adar until Rosh Chodesh Nissan, were the days Moshe trained Aharon and his sons for the Temple service. This was capped off by the 8th day being Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

Our brave men and women of the IDF and the entire people of Israel have been striving for these last six months to regain the security for our people – in Israel and abroad. The reservists were called up for their מילואים  -to fill in- as was the preparation by Moshe and Aharon. There was a ויהי ביום השמיני  on October 7th, Shmini Atzeres. Let us continue to daven, to learn, and to perform chessed, to take the lessons and the strength from our counterparts in Israel. Together, we will turn that  ויהי into והיה  as Klas Yisrael watches out for all Acheinu Kol Beis Yisroel in Eretz Yisroel and throughout Chutz LaAretz.  Amen!

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky

Fri, July 19 2024 13 Tammuz 5784