Page 2 - Announcements Sun. Sept. 30
P. 2

26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck, NY  11023 (516) 487-6100                           Shabbat Announcements Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah 5779
         myth and more recently in science, as next-to-nothing. In King   Moses’ death on the far side of the  Jordan is a consolation for all
         Lear, Shakespeare has Gloucester say, “As flies to wanton boys are  of us. None of us should feel guilty or frustrated or angry or
         we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.” We are the easily   defeated that there are things we hoped to achieve but did not.
         discarded playthings of the gods, powerless in the face of forces   That is what it is to be human.
         beyond our control. As I pointed out in an earlier essay, some
         contemporary scientists have produced secular equivalents of this   Nor should we be haunted by our mistakes. That, I believe, is why
         view. They say: there is nothing qualitatively to distinguish between  the Torah tells us that Moses sinned. Did it really have to include
         Homo sapiens and other animals. There is no soul. There is no self.   the episode of the water, the stick, the rock and Moses’ anger? It
         There is no freewill. Voltaire spoke of humans as “insects devouring  happened, but did the Torah have to tell us it happened? It passes
         one another on a little atom of mud.” Stephen Hawking said that   over thirty-eight of the forty years in the wilderness in silence. It
         “the human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate size planet,  does not report every incident, only those that have a lesson for
         orbiting round a very average star in the outer suburb of one   posterity. Why not, then, pass over this too in silence, sparing
         among a billion galaxies.” Philosopher John Gray wrote that “human  Moses’ good name? What other religious literature has ever been
         life has no more meaning than that of slime mould.” In Homo Deus,  so candid about the failings of even the greatest of its heroes?
         Yuval Harari states that, “Looking back, humanity will turn out to be
         just a ripple within the cosmic data flow.”          Because that is what it is to be human. Even the greatest human
                                                              beings made mistakes, failed as often as they succeeded, and had
         Judaism is humanity’s protest against both ideas. We are not gods.   moments of black despair. What made them great was not that
         And we are not chemical scum. We are dust of the earth, but there   they were perfect but that they kept going. They learned from
         is within us the breath of God. What is essential is never to blur the  every error, refused to give up hope, and eventually acquired the
         boundary between Heaven and Earth. The Torah speaks only   great gift that only failure can grant, namely humility. They
         obliquely about this. It tells us that there was a time, prior to the   understood that life is about falling a hundred times and getting up
         Flood, when “the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were   again. It is about never losing your ideals even when you know
         lovely, and they married whomever they chose” (Gen. 6:2). It also   how hard it is to change the world. It’s about getting up every
         tells us that, after the Flood, humans gathered in a plain in Shinar   morning and walking one more day toward the Promised Land even
         and said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower that   though you know you may never get there, but knowing also that
         reaches heaven, and make a name for ourselves” (Gen. 11:4).   you helped others get there. Maimonides writes in his law code
         Regardless of what these stories mean, what they speak of is a   that, “Every human being can become righteous like Moses our
         blurring of the line between Heaven and Earth – “sons of God”   teacher or wicked like Jeroboam.” That is an astonishing sentence.
         behaving like humans and humans aspiring to live among the gods.  There only ever was one Moses. The Torah says so. Yet what
         When God is God, humans can be human. First, separate, then   Maimonides is saying is clear. Prophetically, there was only one
         relate. That is the Jewish way. For us as Jews, humanity at its   Moses. But morally, the choice lies before us every time we make a
         highest is still human. We are mortal. We are creatures of flesh and  decision that will  affect the lives of others. That Moses was mortal,
         blood. We are born, we grow, we learn, we mature, we make our   that the greatest leader who ever lived did not see his mission
         way in the world. If we are lucky we find love. If we are blessed, we  completed, that even he was capable of making a mistake, is the
         have children. But we also age. The body grows old even if the   most profound gift God could give each of us.
         spirit stays young. We know that this gift of life does not last
         forever because in this physical universe, nothing lasts forever, not   Hence the three great life changing ideas with which the Torah
         even planets or stars. For each of us, therefore, there is a river we   ends. We are mortal; therefore make every day count. We are
         will not cross, a promised land we will not enter and a destination   fallible; therefore learn to grow from each mistake. We will not
         we will not reach. Even the greatest life is an unfinished symphony.                   complete the journey; therefore inspire others to continue what we
                          Great Neck Yoetzet Halacha Lisa Septimus
                            Welcomes your questions about mikvah,
                        observance of taharat mishpacha (halacha relating
                        to married life) and women’s health, as it connects
                              to Jewish law. Reach out to her at:
                                   Phone: 516.415.1111               Join Women’s Tefila on
                         All conversations and emails are kept confidential.
                                                                            Simchat Torah
                             Great Neck Synagogue               Tuesday, Oct. 2nd at 8:45 am
                     26 Old Mill Road, Great Neck , NY 11023
                                  516-487-6100                                Beit Midrash

                        Rabbi Dale Polakoff, Rabbi
                      Rabbi Ian Lichter, Assistant Rabbi
                    Dr. Ephraim Wolf, z”l, Rabbi Emeritus                        Hakafot,
                           Yitzy Spinner, Cantor
                    Eleazer Schulman, z”l, Cantor Emeritus       Torah Reading, Great Ruach
                     Rabbi Sholom Jensen, Youth Director
                  Zehava & Dr. Michael Atlas, Youth Directors
                      Mark Twersky, Executive Director
                     Dr. James Frisch, Assistant Director        Kiddush following Davening
                          Erran Kagan, President
                   Harold Domnitch, Chairman of the Board
                  Lisa Septimus, Yoetzet Halacha 516-415-1111
   1   2   3   4