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Rabbi's Weekly Message

Rabbi Lindemann - Thursday, September 23

What exactly does the Torah mean when it says we are to dwell in Sukkot as our ancestors did when they left Egypt?

That is the subject of a Talmudic dispute between Rabbi Akiba and Rabbi Eliezer (Sukkah 11a). Rabbi Eliezer says the Sukkot were “clouds of glory” with which God surrounded the Israelites as they left Egypt and traveled through the wilderness. Rabbi Akiba said they were physical huts in which the people lived during their travels to the promised land.

Clearly, the Sukkot we make today are a combination of the two views—fragile, temporary dwellings that offer very limited physical protection but provide a place for spiritual contemplation of God’s providence.

We need both. Both are essential for our survival. And both are under attack today by those who would like to destroy us.

This past week, a group of “progressive” members of Congress succeeded in purging support for Iron Dome from a federal funding bill. Iron Dome is the anti-rocket system that saved Israeli lives from more than 4000 rockets fired at civilian centers by Hamas. It is strictly a defensive system designed to save lives. That is what the “Squad” (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan) and others sought to block. Their motivation is clear.

Moderate Democrats will, in the end, secure the funding by other means. But the threat that the Squad poses is real, because they will continue to undermine Israel’s physical security. Their attacks also have a corrosive effect upon the spirit of U.S.-Israel relations, which is grounded in democratic values and a commitment to finding a way to a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

To resist their efforts, we have to maintain our spiritual commitments to Israel and to its physical security. Sukkot is a reminder that both are essential.

To support Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship, we urge you to sign up with AIPAC to encourage congressional support of Israel: simply text “ACT NOW” to 73075 so that you never miss an opportunity to support legislation impacting the U.S.-Israel relationship. You will be informed about critical issues that go well beyond Sukkot.

Whether you stand with Rabbi Akiva or Rabbi Eliezer in their ancient debate, this is a way to make a contribution to Israel’s security, physical and spiritual, today.

A Guide for Virtual Shabbat and Holiday Services

“The Shabbat services that we offer virtually help keep us spiritually connected while we are physically distant. Though we normally do not use electronic devices on Shabbat, the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement considers this to be a hora’at sha’ah, an extraordinary time, which allows us to make an exception to our normal observance. You can read the halakahic ruling (teshuvah) that comprehensively addresses our situation here. Even though we are using technology to gather for services on Shabbat and holidays, we still try to minimize the use of our devices in honor of Shabbat. Click here to see our guide to help with this.

A PDF version of Siddur Lev Shalem is available HERE or can be purchased at the TBS office for $54 each.

Sat, September 25 2021 19 Tishrei 5782