BITESIZE TORAH – RABBI DANIEL EPSTEIN 

 

Dear Friend,

 

Monday night marks the beginning of the first yahrzeit for Rabbi Sacks zt”l. Around the world, during the course of the day of his yahrzeit, people will be studying and discussing his ideas and the Torah insights that he bequeathed us during his lifetime. His memory and Torah thoughts continue to be a blessing to us, but we miss him greatly.

 

We are privileged to be hosting a very special memorial event at WMA on Monday evening, starting with a reception at 7pm and addresses from Rabbi Joseph Dweck, Senior Rabbi S&P Sephardi community and from myself. 

 

Rabbi Sacks’ ideas on this particular parasha – like all the parshiyot, naturally – are fiercely insightful.

 

Abraham is told by God that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are going to be destroyed, due to their wicked and immoral behaviour. Abraham – in contrast to Noah – enters into an immediate negotiation for the salvation of all the inhabitants of the cities. Abraham opens the bidding by suggesting that if 50 righteous people could be found, would that suffice to redeem the city from impending destruction? After all, it would be immoral to kill the innocent along with the guilty!

 

Before God has even responded, Abraham states: השופט כל הארץ לא יעשה משפט – “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

 

Abraham has redefined the human relationship with God. It must be a perfectly balanced partnership. If people are being held to a certain standard, then God should behave the same way. 

 

It is a stunning and shocking statement at the same time. Would we doubt God’s actions? Would we dare to question His motives? Would we ever think to speak in this way?

 

Abraham puts his integrity on the line – such is his empathy and concern for his fellow members of humanity. His question to God is a powerful message to us. We should aspire to a level of greatness and integrity that would allow us to welcome God holding us to account. In return, with wholehearted honesty, we can ask difficult questions of God in return. 

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Daniel & Ilana