Tomorrow we will reenact the dramatic scene. We will stand together to hear the call of The Ten Commandments. The posture for receiving a gift is standing.
The giver knows he’s chosen well when the receiver enjoys the gift right from the start. When a child tears the box open, lights up, and begins to tinker and explore every aspect of what’s inside, the giver is equally delighted. Could it be so with the gift of Torah? Does the Giving God delight at seeing us tinker and explore every aspect of the mitzvot? Perhaps “Notein HaTorah,” “The Giver of Torah,” finds satisfaction when we hold the mitzvot in our hands and say with pride of ownership: “Mine. Ours.”
On Shavuot we reclaim our Judaism, we recommit to being responsible for the quality of Jewish life. We say as our ancestors said at the foot of Mount Sinai: “Na’aseh.” “We will do.”
The Holy Blossom community is at it’s best when there is pride of ownership among its members. When a congregant gets up to greet the guest who has arrived late to the service and seems a bit lost. No one asked that congregant to play that role; he is not officially on the Ushering Team. But he instinctively knows the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, welcoming guests, and he feels enough confidence and ownership that he has the good impulse to get up from his seat, extend a welcoming hand, and wish the newcomer, “Shabbat Shalom.” It sounds simple, but such a mindset does not come simply.
“One who studied a particular text one hundred times cannot be compared to one who studies it one hundred and one times.” (Babylonian Talmud, Chagigah 9b)
It seems that the one extra repetition is exponentially significant. Commenting on this age-old wisdom, Rabbi Menachem Creditor teaches: “While invention is creating something that has never existed before, innovation refers to both radical or incremental changes to things and processes…. While Jewish communities often say: ‘We’re reinventing ourselves,’ it is perhaps more exact to point out how we’ve turned ourselves and our traditions over and over again in an effort to remain true to both inherited tradition and holy growth. Something both new and familiar is empowered to emerge when we accomplish this integration successfully.”
Now is a time for studying the text that is life at Holy Blossom Temple. Let us reflect on it one hundred and one times; observe both the “radical and incremental changes” already underway; imagine those that could be. Such careful reading will enable us “to remain true to both inherited tradition and holy growth.”
Have you ever been disappointed when you came to say Kaddish and there was less than a minyan surrounding you? Now’s the time to commit to coming once a month or once a week — you decide. But make it more right. Make Holy Blossom the supportive synagogue-community we wish it to be.
Were you once a new member who received a less-than-warm welcome? Now’s the time to volunteer to be a “Welcomer.” A call to a new member, an invitation to meet, a few tips about how to navigate the High Holydays – these can make Holy Blossom the open house we wish it to be.
Were you ever upset by the physical state of our building? Now’s the time to get involved in our Renewal Project.
And on the other hand….
Were you ever uplifted by our Shabbat services? Now’s the time to come around again.
Were you ever buoyed by a caring call or visit from a fellow-congregant when you or a loved one was unwell? Be that compassionate Jewish voice for someone else now in turn.
Were you ever challenged by a new insight at a Holy Blossom study table or lecture? Share your ideas for next year’s line-up. Come by for Torah study any Shabbat morning.
Were you ever comforted by our Yizkor service? I’ll look for you tomorrow.
Holy Blossom Temple never sits still. Holy Blossom Temple is changing. As Toronto’s first synagogue, we adapt and grow in every era. Sometimes change comes quickly, sometimes slowly, but it does come. Study it. Understand it. Contribute to it. So that we all can receive it as a gift and say with pride: “Mine. Ours.”