We’re now in the middle of counting the Omer – the period of 7 weeks between Pesach and Shavuot. It’s traditional on the Shabbat afternoon during this seven week period to study Pirke Avot – the Ethics of the Fathers.
We are taught in Pirke Avot “Aseh l’cha chaver, u’kneh l’cha rav. – Make for yourself a friend, and you will find for yourself a teacher.” (Pirke Avot, Ethics of the Fathers 1:6)
This text, together with the following Talmudic text, exemplify how I experience Jewish learning and teaching: “Much I have learned from my teachers, even more from my colleagues but the most from my students.” (Talmud Bavli, Ta’anit 7a). Each and every time I study, I learn something new: I gain insight from those of all ages, from our youngest ECC students to those who are “the age of wisdom.”
In gratitude and honor of our teachers and learners of all ages, tonight we celebrate all of you by having our young TBS learners – our Religious School students in grades Kindergarten through seventh – lead our Erev Shabbat Family service. Our hearts overflow with gratitude for the love of Jewish learning, Jewish living and community that we have experienced throughout this year.
As we prepare for our service this evening, I offer this blessing:
For our Teachers, Students and Learners of All Ages:
You are the Torah, unraveling the holidays of the Jewish people.
We celebrate the warmth of the candles on Shabbat.
The Sweetness of honey on Rosh Hashanah
The quiet of remembering mistakes on Yom Kippur
The joy of sharing our bounty of goodness on Sukkot
The hope of freedom on Pesach
The pride of learning Torah on Shavuot.
You are the Torah,
Unraveling the laws and teachings of our Jewish people.
You teach and embody love and respect for parents
Honesty and kindness to friends
Sharing with others
Keeping Shabbat holy
Using words and deeds that help and heal
Praying to our God for peace, while using our hands and hearts to make peace real in our world.
You are the Torah
Unraveling the stories of the Jewish people
You speak of the love of Abraham and Sarah
The trust of Isaac
The courage of Ruth
The wisdom of Solomon
The guidance of Moses
The fortitude of Deborah
The strength of David.
We thank you for teaching Torah, living Torah, being Torah.
We hope you will join us for this most special Erev Shabbat Family Service.
Rabbi Sharon L. Sobel
Senior Rabbi, Temple Beth Sholom