Rabbi’s Message Jan/Feb 2018

Hurrying to Temple Shalom

Rabbi Bill S. Tepper

We read in the Talmud [Berachot 6b]:

Rabbi Helbo said in the name of Rabbi Huna: ‘when one leaves the synagogue he or she should not take big steps.’  Abbaye added [to this]: ‘only when departing the synagogue [should one avoid big steps], but when one goes to it, it is his or her duty to run,’  as is said [in Hosea 6:3] ‘let us hurry to know God.’   [Sefer Ha-aggadah, Bialik and Ravnitzky, p. 531]

I too hurry to the Temple:  to teach, learn, pray and bless;  meet with congregants young and younger;  and to share in occasions both grievous and joyful.  As our Prophet Hosea instructed, I hurry to encounter God and be in the company of my fellow Jews and our Judaism.

In the years preceding rabbinical school I hurried  to be present at my family’s Temple, where I directed community theatre productions, studied with and taught others, before embarking upon the path towards becoming – inspired as I continue to be by my own rabbis – a spiritual leader myself.

What do we feel and think when we enter our Jewish houses of worship, learning and assembly?  Are not our emotions and intellect transformed?   Are we not, in some remarkable way, overcome by a sense of belonging?   Have we not all at one time or another when entering our Temple, heard the words in our minds, hearts, and spirits:  ‘this is my home, and these are my people?’

The Temple is a centrality of Jewish life.  It is where our traditions and rituals are celebrated.  It is where lives are honoured.  It is where Torah is embraced. It is where past, present and future meet.

Having commenced a new year, let us – the members of Temple Shalom – resolve to follow through upon renewed hopes, and a renewed commitment to the life of our congregation.   Let us, each according to his or her skills and gifts, partner in the enhancement of this sacred community.   Let us amplify the esteem with which Temple Shalom is held in Winnipeg’s Jewish and larger non-Jewish communities.

There is much we can do:  participate in adult study, contribute to the Irma Penn School of Jewish Learning, support our Temple Youth Group, organize a social event, serve on a congregational committee, engage in a social justice project, or join the caring community – attending to the needs of those homebound and hospitalized.  Please feel free to speak with me about these and other endeavours. This is what Temple life, and belonging, are all about.

The Talmud, in Berachot 47b, informs us:  ‘It happened that Rabbi Eleazer entered a synagogue and did not find ten persons present.  He freed his servant in order to complete the ten.’ [Sefer Ha-aggadah, ibid]

What better time then, to be a part of ten – and so many more?  What better time to involve oneself in Temple Shalom’s dynamic life?  What better time  to beautify Temple Shalom, and our holy community?   And what better time to hurry – alongside those we care for and who care for us as well – to God, Judaism and our Temple.

Ken Y’hi Ratzon. May it be God’s will.