From the Desk - World Events
I’m so happy to be writing to you again, on return from our family vacation!
Shabbat Morning Services
Last week, our family spent Shabbat in Wentworth North. Now that we are back, I’m excited for another Shabbat at Beth Ora. I read an insightful post from Rabbi Shaul Robinson of New York who referred to a story about the Chassidic master, the Kotzker Rebbe. The Rebbe pointed out to his followers two men on a ladder. “Which one of the men is higher?” he asked. “Easy,” came the answer “the one nearer the top.” “Not so” replied the rabbi – “the one going up the ladder, even if he is nearer the bottom bow, is really higher than the one going down.”
If we think back to what synagogue, and so much else, was like at the beginning of March, we’d say we are far down the ladder. But when I think of how, thank G-d, so many things are improving and getting stronger, I’d say we are high up indeed. We are so grateful that, after so many weeks apart, we have now been able to pray together, to answer to the minyan and to say all the prayers that cannot be said alone. And we thank Hashem that we now finally have the opportunity to pray inside our building. With Hashem’s help, and your support, we hope to safely, slowly, prudently keep growing and getting stronger and stronger.
While I was away, I learnt of the huge explosion in Beirut, with hundreds of people dead, and thousands injured. Most of you would have seen the jarring images of the overwhelming blast, the fireball and mushroom cloud, the devastation in the streets, the shattered windows.
I share my shock and sadness at this tragedy for two reasons. Firstly, there are unfortunately people who claim to represent Judaism who claim that this is not cause for grief. It is true that Hezbollah seeks the destruction of our State of Israel but this irrelevant to the sadness we must feel when we hear of the death of our fellow human beings (who also live, in the main, under the fear of Hezbollah). Indeed, we should be proud that the Israeli government offered assistance to Lebanon.
The second reason I share this is that we have all faced five particularly difficult months of lockdown. Sometimes, amidst our personal struggles, it can be hard to transcend ourselves and to feel for and pray for others who are suffering. As challenging as it is, the Torah offers us another way to channel our personal suffering and difficulties. Time and again, the Torah instructs us to reflect on our experience as slaves in Egypt and use that as an impetus to be compassionate to those who are vulnerable. Although it is by no means inevitable, we can use our own difficult experiences as a window into the world in which there are those in greater pain than ourselves. To see and empathise with human suffering. To see the shattered windows.
Coming Up at Beth Ora
We are very excited for our raffle tomorrow night. There is still a chance to support the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation and Beth Ora and to win great prizes. If you haven't yet bought your ticket please call the office at 514-748-6559 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to our Shabbat services and our regular online events, I’m excited to invite young families with children to join us on Sunday for Chalk the Walk! We will be decorating the walkway outside Beth Ora to welcome back our shulgoers! The event will be from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM. Each family will be given their own chalk and we will be observing social distancing.
Other Online Events
This evening, at 9:00 PM, the Orthodox Union will be presenting a session on “Living in the Age of Anxiety” with Dr David H Rosmarin. To register for this live session and gain access to the Zoom link, please visit ou.org/resilience.
On Thursday at 11:00 AM, the Orthodox Union is presenting a program called SPIRIT: Vitamins and Minerals to Boost Your Immunity. Participants will learn how nutrient needs change with age, minimize their risks for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, what the immune system does and needs, which vitamins and minerals are identified as immune boosters, and how to reduce their risks for colds, flu and other viruses. The session is presented by Shmuel Shields, Ph.D, who is a certified nutritionist with over 25 years of experience as an educator and clinician. He is also the author of an inspiration Torah-based book on health called L’Chaim: 18 Chapters to Live By. To register for the session click here.
Wishing you all a week of blessing,
Rabbi Anthony Knopf