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From the President


DAVID P LEWIS

PRESIDENT
e: president@greatsynagogue.org.au

Dear Friends,

Shabbat Shalom from London

There is so much to celebrate this week and I am sad that I am not there to share it with all of you. In particular I want to wish Mazal Tov to Phillip Inberg on his aufruf this week, to his fiancée Taylor Saul on their upcoming wedding, to their parents and both families. We wish Taylor and Phillip a long and wonderful life together. Rabbi moved into his new home mid-week and although both he and Hinda are quite tired from the move, we are most excited to wish them Mazal Tov for a happy and very enjoyable life in their new abode. Extensive renovations are complete and it is a magnificent home.

Ruth Buntman, Joe Kensell, Tayler Matthews and Steve Schach all mark birthdays this Shabbat whilst very special Mazal Tov goes to Joe on his 70th Bar Mitzvah anniversary whilst Wesley Browne OAM marks his 84th!

Additional Bar & Bat Mitzvahs are celebrated by: Jackson Ryder and his grandfather Steve Schach, Roger Selby and our daughter Charlotte Weiss!

We only have one Wedding Anniversary this shabbat - Mazal Tov to Nathan Wise & Monica Levy.

I was advised that we had a large crowd in shul for Josh Lopata’s Bar Mitzvah last shabbat morning and it’s wonderful to learn that the community have returned in numbers. Mazal Tov again to the entire Lopata Family.

In our continued absence, Caroline and I wish all of you continued good health, Shabbat Shalom and Mazal Tov to all our wonderful friends at TGS.

Please do not hesitate to EMAIL ME if there is anything you would like to discuss.

To all those in our community who are suffering an illness, we wish you a Refu’ah Shleima — a complete and speedy recovery; and to all those commemorating a Yahrzeit, or who have recently suffered a loss, we wish you a long and good life, full of Simchas.

Kindest regards,

David Lewis
President
 
 

From the Rabbi


RABBI DR BENJAMIN ELTON
e: rabbielton@greatsynagogue.org.au

Vayeshev 5782

This week we are delighted to celebrate the aufruf of Phillip Inberg, prior to his marriage to Taylor Saul. We wish a warm Mazal Tov to Phillip and Taylor, to the Inberg and Saul families and everyone celebrating this beautiful couple.

Next Shabbat will be Chanukah and we are holding special events on both Friday and Saturday to mark the occasion. On Friday night there will be the lighting of the Falk Menorah, a full choral service and a hot kiddush.

Saturday morning will be Youth Shabbat, celebrating our kids and teens, with extra involvement of boys and girls in the service and a gala Chanukah kiddush to follow. I hope we will see lots of children and grandchildren at Shule to enjoy the event.

The theme of dreams dominated the early life of Joseph. He dreamt about rising to a position of prominence over his brothers, and even over his parents. Later when he was thrown into prison in Egypt, he interpreted the dreams of the butler and the baker, and when Pharaoh had a pair of dreams, Joseph was brought from his cell to decipher those as well. Dreams got Joseph into trouble, antagonising his brothers so much that they threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery, but they also got him out of trouble, by alerting Pharaoh’s servants to his abilities, and then by impressing Pharaoh himself.

The difference, of course, is that it was Joseph’s own dreams that caused problems, whereas his salvation came when he attended to the dreams of others. Indeed, the Rabbis tell us that the butler, restored to his position, might have helped Joseph earlier, but forgot all about him. That forgetfulness was God’s punishment of Joseph, who had asked the butler to remember him. In other words, while Joseph was still attending to his own dreams, either sleeping or waking, he remained incarcerated. He would only be redeemed once he concentrated entirely, and disinterestedly, in others, and stopped thinking about himself.

This is a difficult ideal to live up to. Hillel famously said, ‘if I am not for me, who will be for me?’ He also said ‘if I am only for myself, what am I?’ He was advising a balance between concern for the self, and positive interest in other people. So which is our model, Joseph (at the end of his troubles) or Hillel? Thinking only of others, or retaining a concern for ourselves as well?

Perhaps the answer comes from Maimonides, who taught the importance of the Golden Mean, a perfect mid-point between opposing extremes. We are neither gluttonous nor self-denying, but rather consume a healthy amount. However, there are exceptions in Maimonides’ system, such as anger, which must be avoided entirely. Another, temporary, exception is when we have veered too far in one direction. In that case there needs to be a corrective when we move to the other extreme for a limited period in order to return to balance in the end.

That may have been what Joseph needed. Total lack of personal interest was neither proper not viable in the long run, but after a youth of almost total self-absorption, Joseph needed to let go of those inclinations entirely, at least for a while, become interested only in others, and then he could return to the healthy, middle position. That would both bring his redemption, and most fundamentally, be his redemption.

 

Thu, 2 December 2021 28 Kislev 5782