We are now in Elul – a month away from Rosh Hashanah, a time of looking into new beginnings, and a time of shedding past hurts and misunderstandings. A time to blow the shofar every morning (beginning Monday, except Shabbat), the plaintive wail of the shofar opening our hearts.
This Shabbat we welcome Katie Marr and Joshua Torontow to be called to Torah for the first time, an occasion of great spiritual joy and communal significance. Every time someone steps forward to stand with us, to join the people of Israel, it is also a time for each of us to re-assess our own standing. Katie and Joshua, we are very moved by your decision to join us.
Shoftim, our parashah this week, opens – “Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your cities…” Historically, in every Jewish community there was an autonomous self-governing court of judges, a Beit Din, that would sit and assess various cases, from misdemeanors to divorces. This week we had two judges, dayanim, who sat with me for a Beit Din for conversion for our two candidates.
But the judges must be worthy to sit on such a court, (as they most certainly are); “… you shall not show favouritism, and you shall not accept a bribe, for a bribe will blind the eyes of the wise and it will corrupt words that are just.”
Torah is teaching us in all our dealings, whether we sit on a Beit Din, or conduct our everyday business, we should be acting with righteousness. Tzedek, tzedek tirdof. Righteousness, righteousness, you shall pursue. Our rabbis teach us that as we approach hashamayim – Jewish heaven! – we will be asked an unusual question. Were you fair in all your business dealings?” In many ways virtually all of life is transactional. Our life is our business. This is a very high standard to uphold – thank goodness for Elul.
I wish all of us good health and meaningful reflections during this month as we come up to Rosh Hashanah.
Kein yihe ratzon,