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Rabbi's Shabbat Message

For the past week, Klal Yisrael has been heartbroken upon hearing about the devastating tragedy that occurred during the Lag BaOmer festivities in Meron, Israel. 
The images beamed around the world depicted large crowds of people, many of whom donned different garb to that typically seen on the (mostly) casual streets of Australia’s east coast. Their fervency and positive energy at this Upper Galilee pilgrimage cast a spotlight on a different way to enthusiastically practice and express Judaism to that we see locally. Yet all of that is immaterial - neither diminishing nor lessening our hurt. You see, our collective Jewish heart has been bleeding. Their pain is our pain.
In this spirit, this past Tuesday evening I invited my dear friend and eyewitness to the tragedy, Rabbi Asi Spiegel, Dean of the Meron Academy for Jewish Mystics, to join our Central Family via a meaningful Webinar. He generously shared words of inspiration, encouragement and strength. Many families in our community tuned in - I want to thank all who reached out to communicate just how comforting it was to partake in an evening of warmth and wisdom, despite the tyranny of physical distance. 
We often hear it espoused in modern society that “time is a great healer”. Perhaps. Yet time also tends to dull our reactions once shocking news has been relayed. Whilst we can’t sustain a level of continued heightened emotional trauma, it is important that the acute ache felt is recognised and registered. 
 
This week in Tel Aviv and Haifa, hundreds of secular Jews voluntarily chose to give blood to those in need, mostly to adherents of Chareidi Judaism. In Jerusalem, blood donation stations were at capacity. In Givat Shmuel, a Jewish person chose to distribute free food to families with loved ones who hadn't yet made it home, and were too busy and distracted to cook for Shabbat.  A funeral took place for a Jewish man from Montreal who didn’t have any family in Israel. Thousands attended, despite intensely hot weather conditions, to give final and proper honour to his neshamah, his soul.
 
(Sigh) All too frequently, it takes calamities to remind us that we have a genuine connection with so many – that we are and will always be, Am Echad b’Lev Echad – One People, One Heart. Next time you find yourself tempted to see a fellow Jew as the ‘other’, consciously ask yourself: If their image was part of a tragic chain of events, would you not cry for their loss - would you not feel their family’s pain?
 
As we near the significant Yom tov of Shavout, preparing to climb our spiritual Mount Sinai, let us remember how critical it is to have an awareness of 
what to hold on to and what to let go of.  Let go of the questions that have no answers, (rest assured the One Who Sits On High knows all). 
Channel your energies into attaining and retaining unity and togetherness. This will be the solution to usher in the revealed Messianic age.
This week, as we conclude Sefer Vayikra, the third book of the Torah, we will loudly proclaim: “Chazak, Chazak, v’Nitchazak”!  Be strong! Be strong! And let us strengthen each other!” 
Amen to that!
With warm blessings for a Shabbat Shalom, 
Rabbi Levi and Chanie