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Posts by Dave Middleton:
Jewish communities and synagogues across the country are standing in unflinching solidarity with the Etz Chaim (Tree of Life) Synagogue in Pittsburgh by participating in the #ShowUpForShabbat initiative. As the leadership of the synagogue is strategizing over long-term security questions, we have committed to have police security for the short-term this Shabbat.
Vigil for Louisville and Pittsburgh. We have come here today to mourn. Eleven Jews were martyred at prayer. Eleven Jews who had probably just put on their kippotand wrapped themselves in their prayer shawls, like the one I am wearing now. Who had in all likelihood just chanted the morning liturgy, which affirms our pride and joy and sense of obligation…
Perhaps our Jewish future is like Schroedinger’s Cat: whether we live or die, thrive or decline, is a matter of perception. Abraham had to journey into the great Unknown: ‘el ha’aretz asher ar’echa’ – ‘to a land that I will show you’. He was called to draw on all his inner resources and vision in order to heed that vision.
This High Holiday cycle, we are exploring this verse as we try to understand and answer the charge of ‘veheyeh b’rachah’, of how we can be a blessing. Our previous sermonic journeys have forayed into the territory of the soul. ‘Lech lecha’ – we have ventured into ourselves, and reached for our deepest purpose because, as I said during my sermon for Shabbat Shuvah: we cannot live Jewish lives by instinct alone: we are called to make Judaism our own and ascribe to it a higher mission. When we discover how we want to shape our lives and take ownership of our Judaism, we can act with generosity, with confidence and hope, with love, with joy—and be a blessing.
Join Dr. Robert Cargill, Asst. Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Iowa, as he offers a six-lecture series beginning September 30 titled “The New Testament for Jews,” and introduces the Christian scriptures in their Jewish context for a Jewish audience.
What does it mean to go ‘from yourself, from your homeland, the place of your birth and your father’s house?’ Surely, the Torah could have sufficed in saying ‘lech m’artz’cha el ha’aretz asher ar’echa’ – ‘go from your land to the land that I will show you.’ We normally assume that the Torah’s language is efficient and focused, so if the Torah uses a more expanded syntax, it means we are called to read the text very closely. In fact, we are going to read it so closely that we are going to only look at ‘lech lecha’.
That’s right: this is a sermon about two words. Two words.