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President's Message 7/30/22

Dear friends,

This week's two Parshiot, Matot and Massei, bring the Book of BaMidbar to a close. The Parshiot relate the laws of vows, the victory of the Israelites over Midianites, the request by the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Menashe to settle outside of the Holy Land, a summary of 40 years of wandering, creating cities of refuge, and the marriages of the daughters of Zelophehad.

When the tribes of Reuben and Gad ask Moshe for the lands to the east of the Jordan, Moshe is initially angry. He berates the tribes for cowardice and selfishness for not fighting for the land of Israel with the rest of the Nation. He feels they are abandoning the prophecy for the Israelites to conquer and dwell in the Land ofIsrael. Once the tribes explain that they would join together in unity with the rest of the Nation to fight common foes, his anger abates and he promises them the land east of the Jordan in perpetuity. 

Rabbi Mirwis brings several commentators to explain why Moshe's view changes so completely. While he quotes the Ramban and the Netziv, his favorite commentator here is the Degel Machane Ephraim. He explains that Moshe was initially concerned that the tribes would go off on their own and split the nation. But Moshe took the time to understand these tribes. He then lived up to the standard of a great, enlightened leader, reversing his objections in light of this new insight. 

The Degel Machane Ephraim notes that the tribes asked to settle in the East, but offered to join, even lead, the Israelites as one nation against the armies of the Canaanites. He also notes that the tribe of Menashe, straddling both sides of the Jordan, allowed constant interactions between the nation in the West and the tribes in the East.  As long as the tribes worked together against common obstacles, Moshe had nothing to fear. 

These Parshiot are always read around Tisha B'av, when the concept of Sinat Chinam, causeless hatred and senseless divisions, is highlighted as the underlying cause of the destruction of the Temple. Rabbi Mirwis relates this here. He praises Moshe for recognizing the importance of communication and prioritizing building and maintaining bridges to promote unity over personal pride and preference. Full dvar is here. 

• • • 

Many topics were covered at the Board meeting this week.  The minutes from the previous meeting were approved, and they will be sent out to the membership next week. Job descriptions for office manager and building manager to take some of the load off the Rabbi and Shternie were approved and candidates are actively being recruited. Job descriptions for the leadership roles in the Shul (Rabbi, President, Gabbai) continue to be refined and will hopefully be approved before the next meeting.  A code of conduct was approved by the Board and a copy will be sent to all members next week. 

I'm really excited about  a new monthly lecture series entitled Israel – Conflict and Culture that will begin after the Chagim and run through May 2023. Speakers are being confirmed this summer.

In addition to the minutes, I plan to send an interim budget so members can see where we are at the midpoint of the year in terms of expenses, income and expectations​.

Lastly, I hope everyone can join us for the Daf Yomi Siyum BBQ for tractate Yevamot that will take place on Sunday at 2PM at the Shul backyard.

Wishing you all a meaningful and peaceful Shabbat Shalom,

Steven Inker​

President's message 7.22.22

Dear friends,

Pinchas, this week’s Parsha, continues recounting the Israelites’ downfall against Midian, describes the census, outlines the request of the daughters of Zelophchad to retain the land of their father, describes how Moshe learns of his impending death and his requests about his successor, and ends with the sacrifices brought throughout the year.

Many have commented about the importance that Moshe placed on the type of person and the priorities that his successor should have, and it is a blueprint to what we should look for in our leaders. Rabbi Mervis points out here that Moshe uses the term “the God of the spirit of every person." Moshe knew that the leader must be a global leader for the nation, but he also knew that a great leader listens to every person. It is not enough for the nation to succeed if minorities within that nation suffer. A nation is only as strong as its weakest member.

Rabbi Riskin looks further, at the character of Joshua, the successor. Rabbi Riskin analyzes how Joshua, as opposed to the more intellectual Pinchas, or Elazar the Priest, or Moshe’s own sons, earned the title. Joshua’s outstanding characteristic was his devotion to Moshe and his concern for the well being of the Israelites. A great leader must lead from the front but be concerned with all of his people.  

• • • 

The Siyum bbq is still planned for next Sunday, July 31, at 2 pm. And we are planning a lecture series for after the Holidays. More details soon.

Wishing all of you a peaceful and meaningful Shabbat Shalom

Steven Inker

Fri, August 12 2022 15 Av 5782