September 2019, Parshat Shoftim

Dear Friends,

I am writing this message to you from New York after celebrating the wonderful wedding of my sister in law Chana to yep you guessed it, a delightful young man named Mendel!

While travel with three young children can be daunting, I can definitively say that all the hard work and jetlag was worth it to celebrate such a beautiful Simcha. I have overwhelming feelings of gratitude for all the hospitality and kindness that was shown to us during our short stay away.

While Mushka grew up in Bangkok Thailand, almost her entire family on both her mother and father’s side live in the United States. On our way to New York, we stopped in Los Angeles for 24 hours and took Av, Lev and Yahli to visit their great-grandparents that live there. It was lovely for our children to spend time with their great-grandparents and get to know them better, especially in the beautiful weather in Los Angeles.

We then continued on to New York where we spent some time with Mushka’s other set of grandparents who really got to know our children. Due to considerable distance, it is not always easy to establish meaningful relationships when everyone lives so far and our children loved seeing their relatives. We celebrated Av’s 4th birthday with them NY style at a local Pizzeria!

The Shabbat that followed our lengthy travels to New York was on the eve of the wedding and is sure to be one that will be spoken about for years to come. Over 70 cousins and family members from Mushka’s mother’s side gathered together at a hotel in Connecticut to celebrate Chana’s wedding. I loved seeing Av, Lev and Yahli with all their cousins, uncles, aunties, grandparents and great grandparents. It was a golden opportunity for all of us to spend quality time with family.

As I started writing this piece, the wedding of Chana and Mendel has just finished and it is the wee hours of the morning. What a party and what a celebration!

I am truly grateful to be able to experience the good times with my in-laws and I look forward to seeing you all in Shule this week! We arrived back this morning, and please forgive me if I look a little bleary-eyed. All the travel was 100% worth it for the amazing family times we experienced but, as you can imagine, it’s a serious schlep!

This week’s Parsha is Shoftim. Moshe continues to recite to the people of Israel important laws that they will need to know when they enter the land of Israel. As part of this directive, he stresses the importance of setting up courts of law and an adequate justice system. He uses the famous expression of ‘justice justice you shall pursue’ while imploring the people of Israel to ensure that their courts, judges and witnesses have integrity.

One doesn’t have to think too deeply about the terrible outcomes in a society in which there is no justice system or one in which corruption is allowed to flourish.

The justice system provides the safeguards for society in which people can gauge a feeling of safety and security. If the system can be perverted through a lack of integrity, bribery and false witnesses then society will not function properly. People lose trust in the system and the potential for miscarriage of justice is high and almost inevitable.

With this in mind, I write this piece to express gratitude that we live in a wonderful and blessed country like Australia. I say that with a little more vigour having just returned from the big apple. While I may be far from family and cousins and that can be hard, I feel so grateful to live in this country that has a justice system with integrity.

And this is the precise reason that so many people have had the opportunity to flourish and have the chance to experience a ‘fair go.’ As our current prime minister puts it “if you have a go, you get a go”.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gabi