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From the President
JUSTICE STEPHEN ROTHMAN AM

PRESIDENT
e: admin@greatsynagogue.org.au

Dear Friends,

SHABBAT SHALOM!

This Shabbat, we celebrate the 52nd Wedding Anniversary of Allan & Elizabeth Robinson and the 40th Wedding Anniversary of Paul & Yvonne Kinney.  We also celebrate the 80th Birthday of Allan Robinson (a triple celebration for him) and the Birthday of Rochelle Goot, which should have been celebrated last week, but she was unavailable.  It is also Allan Robinson’s 67th Bar Mitzvah Anniversary and David Rothman is celebrating his 26th Bar Mitzvah Anniversary.

Further, we have the celebration of Peter & Ingrid Zelas, on the birth of grandson Theodore, to Cara and Seth Ginsburg and the naming of Riva Marnina Wexlevi by her parents Eli Levi & Ezra Wexler.

I wish all of you Mazal Tov.

I would also like to thank all our members for their offerings to the Shule this Shabbat and every Shabbat.

For all those celebrating a Simcha, we pray that you have many more years of good health, happiness, peace and prosperity to enjoy your celebrations.

To all those in our community who are suffering some minor or major illness, we wish you a Refu’ah Shaleima – 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.

Warmest Regards,

Justice Stephen Rothman AM


 

From the Rabbi
RABBI DR BENJAMIN ELTON

e: rabbi@greatsynagogue.org.au

Lech Lecha 5780

This week we will enjoy special events on both Friday night and Shabbat morning. To mark the Shabbat Project Rabbi Phil will be leading a musical Kabbalat Shabbat with members of the Choir, and we will then enjoy a hot heimishe kiddush, with cholent, kugel, herring, kichel and scotch.

On Shabbat morning we will celebrate the fortieth wedding anniversary of Yvonne and Paul Kinney. Yvonne and Paul are stalwarts of our shule, and of the Women’s Auxiliary and it will be a huge pleasure to enjoy this wonderful occasion with them.

Parashat Vayera opens with the approach of three men to Abraham’s tent, who bring him news that he and Sarah will have a son. Sarah was standing and listening at the entrance of the tent, and when she heard this prediction she laughed and dismissed the idea. God addressed Abraham and angrily asked him why Sarah was laughing.

The usual interpretation of this incident is that God was angry with Sarah for laughing, for doubting the prophecy. There are problems with this reading. Firstly, if god was angry with Sarah why did He not address her directly? Second, why shouldn’t Sarah laugh? This prediction did not come from God or a revealed angel but from three unknown travellers. Thirdly, the Torah tells us explicitly that Sarah was beyond childbearing years, laughter was the most sensible response.

My friend and colleague, Rabbi Ben Greenfield, argues that God was not angry with Sarah at all, but with Abraham. The incident in Vayera takes place in chapter 18, but already in chapter 17 God told Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son. It is apparent from Sarah’s reaction that she was unaware of this promise directly from God. Abraham hadn’t told her.

So when God said to Abraham ‘is anything beyond the Lord?’, He was not criticising Sarah for a lack of faith, because she laughed when three nomads made an absurd prediction. He was criticising Abraham for not having enough faith to pass on the assurance from God Himself.

Our faith is often tested in the bad times. When horrible things happen to us or those we love, our trust in God is severely strained. That is the obvious moments of tested faith. What this episode demonstrates is that our faith can also be tested in the good times.

When something wonderful happens to us (and what can be more wonderful that a certain promise of a child to a couple who cannot conceive), do we have the faith to attribute this to God, and feel the gratitude that is due? When Abraham was told he and Sarah would conceive he should have rushed home and told his wife. Instead he kept silent and that was a lack of faith.

When we are celebrating a happy event, we should also have faith, and say ‘this is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be happy upon it’ (Psalm 118:24) and show our faith in good fortune as well as in adversity.

Shabbat Shalom!

Thu, 14 November 2019 16 Cheshvan 5780