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Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Rosh Hashanah Sermons 2021 - Ideas & Themes

"… Listen, God, what I am going to tell you, is for your good and you are interested. Stop. Yes, Lord, stop your project: it is foolish, it has no chance of success. Even you, who can do everything, cannot succeed.

What your glory is a man? You make me laugh. Man is your failure. What is the pearl of your crown? In truth, you seem to cling to your illusions. Come on; God wakes up. Do the right thing: go back. Close the book before turning the first page. ...

Your angels and seraphim will applaud you, and for all the countless souls that will escape the condemnation of being born to die. And for the trees that men will not cut down. And for the animals that the slaughterers are not going to slaughter. And by nature, that will not be tainted by men. ...

What I tell you is faithful; what I tell you is what will make things real: you have to know how to stop, even if you are God…"

 These are the words of a madman, a madman who believes himself Adam, the first man. A madman created by the remarkable pen of Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Shoá and Nobel Peace Prize in 1987, in his novel "Twilight in the distance." A madman who speaks only with God in his madness. 

Let's keep listening:

"Sir, you miscalculated the play, see? One can be God and fail in calculations. You want to know why? Because a human is being involved and that changes everything. Since a human being appears, the game is flawed.

Rosh Hashanah Sermons 2021

For this reason, I appeal to your wisdom and your powers: leave the project. You don't need men, not even me. Turn back, turn me into a grain of sand, into a handful of earth."

How tempting sometimes this reasoning seems to us. Just read a newspaper, watch the news to believe for a moment in the arguments of the madman who believes Adam.

Why not ask us how much fantasy and how much lucidity there is in your speech, and how far it is possible to define precisely the boundary between one thing and the other.

Rosh Hashanah Sermons

However, I am here today, standing before the presence of God, creator of the world, and my teachers who honor me by granting me the title of rabbi, to affirm and proclaim my faith in God and my faith in man as a divine creature.

I am here receiving the Torah scrolls, reissuing the covenant of Mount Sinai, because I am convinced that man is God's partner in the continuous process of Creation.

I am here receiving the inspiration of the psalmist's words (8: 5) which states that man was created "little less than divine, crowned with glory and honor."

I am here trying to be a worthy heir to the message of the prophets of Israel, who is even knowing human weakness, summon us to build a society that reflects messianic ideals.

I am here, wanting to be a student of the Talmudic sages, who affirm that each human being is a unique creature possessing a divine spark. A spark that ignites when it comes into contact with another human being.

In his creation account, the Torah tells us that man was created "Betzalmenu kidmutenu",  in the image and likeness of God, but in continuing, the text expresses the divine fear that man himself will become God, as is arises from the prohibition of eating the fruit of the tree of life.

From this seemingly ambivalent posture of God about man, the Jewish thinker Erich Fromm, in his book "And you will be like gods" states the premise that "if he is not God and cannot become God, man can become like God." In other words, imitate God. What does that mean? God has revealed to man, not his essence but the effects of his essence, and from there, the divine qualities have been transformed into norms of human action.

This idea of ​​imitating God through observance was already expressed by our prophets, who fight against the empty ritualism of a corrupt priesthood used precisely this conception, emphasizing the spiritual and moral aspects of the precepts. In the words of the prophet Micha (Micah 6: 6-8):

"I have declared to you man what is good, what Adonai demands of you; it is only to practice justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

Justice and mercy, two of the divine qualities that repeatedly appear in the Bible, in the words of the prophet become imperatives, orders of action that men must fulfill.

Also, in rabbinic literature (Talmud, Sota 14a), we find calls from the wise to imitate the actions of God:

And Jama said of the school of Rabbi Janina: What does the writing mean: "Ajarei Adonai Elohejem Teleju" Will you follow your God Adonai "? (Deut. 13: 5) Can man perhaps follow God? Instead, man must develop the qualities of the Holy Blessed Sea. He saw the naked ... so you must dress them, as He visits the sick ... so you must visit them. As He comforts the bereaved ... so you must comfort them ...

The Talmud brings us here an exemplification of this conception. The aspiration of man to resemble God must fundamentally imply the will of the human being to act according to divine precepts. However, Fromm understands that the commitment to the law is not only given to its acceptance or fulfillment, but also constitutes a global vision of life, a worldview that tends to privilege every moment giving it sanctity.

And so he writes in his book:

"Not only must man act according to the general principles of justice, truth, and love, but every act of life must be sanctified."

In a world where man has opted for the desacralization of his values ​​as a life strategy and the trivialization of his actions as a daily technique, my challenge as a rabbi is to try to create, together with my parishioners, moments of holiness, moments that bear witness to the presence of God in the world. He is committing them to reread the sacred texts to inspire us to develop bonds of love and solidarity. Remembering our history to help us reveal ourselves against injustice and intolerance; Living the Jewish calendar to understand that every minute is a unique and unrepeatable experience. He is renewing the dialogue with Halacha, the Jewish law, to live a meaningful life; deepening the link with the State of Israel "Reshit tzmijat gueulatenu", which marks the beginning of our renacimiento and r edención. And acting under a foundational premise: God has breathed in every man, in each of us, a pinch of his essence. And it is our duty to protect and develop it.

This is the challenge I take on this day, this daydreamed and long-awaited.

I don't know exactly when my rabbinic vocation was born, but I remember that day perfectly, almost 15 years ago, when I first entered this house. Full of doubts and concerns, eager to learn and study. With one conviction: I wanted to be a rabbi.

In my community, the Scholem Aleijem of Florida, led by Rabbi Daniel Goldman today, witnessed the revolution that the Latin American Rabbinic Seminary and its founder, Rabbi Marshal Mayer z" l - teacher of my teachers and therefore also my teacher -, performed in the Latin American Jewish quarter.

In an era full of censorship and self-censorship, conservative synagogues were transformed into space where it was possible to comment and discuss. The Kabalat Shabbat became a significant spiritual experience. There was now a way of understanding the Jewish tradition from a modern perspective, or the possibility of understanding the modern from a Jewish vision.

And then I decided to enter the exciting world of Jewish texts, to travel the paths of the wisdom of the people of Israel, to try to learn and deepen the experience of being Jewish.

(Acknowledgments) For the end I want to say something also to the mad Adam: I believe with sincere faith that God created the world exclusively for man; precisely to make it a place that testifies to the presence of God.

In another of his novels, The City of Fortune, Elie Wiesel returns to the theme of God and his relationship with a man:

- Do you like to talk about God? ... Tell me about God.
- God, the brother, is the weakness of the strong and the strength of the weak.
- And the man? Do you also like to talk about, man?  
- Man is the strength of God. And even his weakness.

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