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Erev Shabbat Message from Rabbi Feldman

Dear Friends,                                                                                                                         
 
There is a custom during this time of year, between Passover and Shavuot (a time known as the Omer) to study a specific text, Pirke Avot on Shabbat afternoon.  
Pirke Avot is a Rabbinic text that includes numerous lessons and phrases attributed to many of the great early Rabbis. There is no clear logic or order to these phrases but they do include many helpful and thoughtful sayings of how one should conduct his or her life.  As I looked over this text last Shabbat afternoon, I came across one of my favorite Rabbinic expressions.
 
It is found in the first chapter of Avot, verse 12: "Be like the disciples of Aaron - love peace, pursue peace, love your fellow and bring them closer to Torah."
 
Aaron, the older brother of Moses, is known for many things in the Torah and in Rabbinic Literature. The Torah highlights his role as the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, the one responsible for the Religious Life of the Israelites during their years in the wilderness. The Rabbis extend Aaron's role and his legacy by attributing to him acts of peace - saying he not only welcomed peace in his life but that he went out of his way to find peace or to even chase after peace. To the Rabbis, Aaron did all that he could to find peace, even in places that most people would not notice it. 
The Rabbinic lesson is that at times we may have to work hard to achieve peace, to even create it ourselves, and this active pursuit of peace is something we all should emulate in our lives.
 
The second half of the quote, the ultimate goal of Aaron according to the Rabbis is to help others stay on the proper path. The Rabbis wanted us to not only make time for Torah ourselves but we should also help others see the merits to a Torah life. To be a part of the Jewish community means that we need to do our part to bring people closer - to help people feel more of a connection to their community and to a Jewish way of life.
 
There are many ways that we can follow this instruction in our contemporary lives. For us as a congregation, we follow Aaron's example when we encourage people to become part of our congregational family, when we invite people to join us at a Shabbat service, when we invite people to sit with us at lunch after services or to just say hello to a new face in the Sanctuary. There are also opportunities to help people feel a closer connection to our community during the week by inviting people to come with us to a program or class, to encourage people to be more involved in synagogue life or to take an active role in any worthy Jewish organization.
 
The descendants of Aaron became the Kohanim, the Priests who led our worship experiences in the Tabernacle and the Temple. That was a position that was decided by birth. I have great respect for those who still follow the rules of being a Kohen and understand their role in the community. Only the people born into the Priesthood can fulfill that role. But to be a disciple of Aaron means that we are all able to be students of Aaron, people who learn from his example and follow it into our own lives.
 
I hope we all can strive to be more than just lovers of peace but also become pursuers of peace. I also encourage us to think of ways that we can love and honor people in our lives so that we can bring them closer to Torah - bring them into our community and help them feel as welcome and as comfortable as we can. It is a worthy mission.
 
Shabbat Shalom
 
Rabbi Adam Feldman
Posted: 5/5/2017 10:59:15 AM by | with 0 comments

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