Cantor Gurney's Shabbat Message - April 29, 2022

  • Clergy
  • Shabbat

This Shabbat arrives holding an impossible truth in its wings of peace: the two most transformative events in modern Jewish history: the Holocaust and the establishment of the modern State of Israel. This past week we made, as we must, the annual descent into the darkness of the hell of Jewish hatred and annihilation. Not doing so is a dangerous form of denial. This coming week we will make the annual ascent to the top of Mt. Scopus, in celebration of Yom Ha’atzma’ut, the establishment of Israel’s independence and its statehood. We’ll embrace all that its very existence means to Jews and the world. 

The ancient and astoundingly relevant teachings of this and next week’s Torah portions frame the same fundamental choice of human existence: Acharei Mot (after death) and Kedoshim (the path to Holiness). After the darkness of despair, comes the light of hope. Each day and moment of our lives, in large global ways and in small personal ways we face the choice of good and evil, light and darkness, blessing and curse, hope and despair, joy and sadness, truth and lies. Jewish thought and teaching are obsessed with and relentlessly clear about the choice. Its profound wisdom is illuminated both by the recognition of the inherent perpetual nature of the confrontation and the clarity of the proper choice. Each of us is called to awareness of this fundamental human choice, as citizens of our nation, as Jews, and as human beings inhabiting the earth. 

In a very personal yet no less profound way, Nancy, Gillian, and I will celebrate a different annual event, the fifth anniversary of my kidney transplant. We’ll gather together with our treasured friends Paul, my donor, and his wife Laura for dinner, and speak words of gratitude for countless choices of light, love, blessing, hope, joy, and the gift of life. 

May this Shabbat bring peace of mind and inspiration in knowing we’ve chosen well.

Shabbat Shalom.

Don Gurney