This Week's Parsha: Sent From My iPhone
As Hurricane Sandy threatened communities across the Eastern Seaboard, rabbis found new ways to reach their congregants in this time of strife. Temple Beth El of Northern Valley was still without power on Shabbat, so the congregation joined together for a "flashlight" Shabbat on Friday evening, and then celebrated a double b'nai mitzvah in the morning light. Rabbi David Widzer sent this d'var torah by text message to the members of Temple Beth El of Northern Valley in Closter, NJ.
Sent from my iPhone
Please excuse typos and auto-corrects!
From our Torah portion this week, I think we can learn something that might help us in light of recent event. The portion is filled with examples of people helping, and being helped by, others.
When God decides to wipe out the evil cities of Sodom and Gemorrah, it is Abraham who argues for the well being of the innocent among the wicked. Abraham, in fact, tries to save the whole city. Though he is ultimately unsuccessful, it is not for lack of trying.
Abraham's nephew, Lot, who lives in Sodom, also tries to help others. God has sent messengers (angels) to visit the city and deliver the verdict of its punishment. When the townsfolk threaten the messengers, Lot befriends them and saves them. For his assistance, the messengers help Lot flee the city before its destruction.
An even more dramatic instance of helping comes with Hagar and her son, Ishmael. Cast out of the camp by Sarah, the two soon run out of supplies in the wilderness. In the midst of their despair, a messenger from God comes to help Hagar. A well of water is unveiled and they survive.
Sometimes we try to do our part and save the whole community, like Abraham. Sometimes it's just about helping one or two people, like Lot. And sometimes, when despair overtakes us, we hope we can be helped by God's presence, like Hagar.
And those angel, those messengers of God that show up and help people? I think, sometimes, when we act to help others, that's us, too.
Rabbi David Widzer
Rabbi David Widzer is the rabbi at Temple Beth El of Northern Valley in Closter, NJ and is a member of the Commission on Social Action.
Please consider donating to the URJ's Hurricane Relief Fund to provide assistance to communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Together, we can provide hope and help to those in need.
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