July 2021 – Parshat Va’etchanan

Dear Friends,

At the moment, it is hard not to feel dejected. We have seen our city once again plunged into a lockdown, with no seeming end in sight. Looking at the havoc and chaos that COVID-19 has wrought on communities around the world it is no wonder that the government had to make this hard decision, but it is still impossible to think that one year on from our most severe lockdown we are here in the same situation, once again.

I encourage all of you to take care of your mental health during this time. We are strong, we are resilient, and we know we can get through this all. If anyone is struggling or you think of someone who could do with some cheering up during this time, please reach out to me or let me know. The team at ARK Centre is here for you with our Pay It Forward initiative, our kids care packages that have gone out over the past couple of days or even just a chat or a message.

I will certainly miss all of you in Shule this week as we spend another week hunkering down, but that does not mean that we do not have things to look forward to. Jewish people and Australians persevere despite the tough times. We push through. As the expression goes: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

In this week’s Parsha Va’etchanan, Moshe recounts the 10 commandments and other principal stories in the history of the Jewish people as well as some more trying aspects of their time in the desert. Throughout the next few weeks, in the Parshiot we read Moshe recalls the sin of the Golden Calf, the rebellion led by Korach and the incident with the spies. What is the purpose of recalling and retelling the stories of these tough times? Was it meant to shame the people of Israel? Or did it serve another purpose?

One reason is that by retelling these stories it reminded the Jewish people how far they had come since these incidents. It was meant to demonstrate that they had evolved, matured and become a nation that had grown into its destiny to become a people that were ready to receive the land of Israel.

Retelling these stories showed their resilience and ability to survive their predicament despite the many challenges they faced along the way. By overcoming these setbacks and moving forward towards a more cohesive future the Jewish people were able to learn from their experiences.

As we look around the world during a global pandemic, we are reminded of the tastes of freedom we have had earlier this year. We don’t want to experience lockdowns. We certainly don’t want sickness and sadness in our streets. We want to go back to our ordinary extraordinary lives.

However, as we enter into Shabbat we know we are resilient. The pandemic rages on; and yet despite the hardship we persevere. We strengthen ourselves and those around us. We are a community that is first and foremost there for each other during the good times and the not so good times. During regular times and during lockdown–we are here for each other.

Wishing you and your families a Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Gabi