It was a very special evening.
Last night for the first time all our shlichim were gathered together for dinner and afterward our board meeting.
Mizrachi UK, which re-started in August 2015 with just one employee, has now expanded to seventeen!
Twelve of these are our incredible shlichim couples who are inspiring the community up and down the country.
We heard last night from each of them as they reported on the impact they are having in Edgware, Hendon, Borehamwood, Leeds and Manchester as well as the work they are doing in Hasmonean Boys’ and Girls’ School, Yavneh College, Yavneh Manchester, as well as with students in London and on Campus and the work done with Bnei Akiva UK.
The evening began with a Dvar Torah by Rav Yehdah Peles, our Mizrachi Rav in Manchester. He shared with us a beautiful idea which really made me see another remarkable aspect of the Jewish people.
When Hashem spoke to Avram at the start of the Parsha he doesn’t actually name the destination: “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you.” (Bereshit 12:1) So Avraham begin a journey to an unknown destination – just a strong Emuna in Hashem and a realisation that what he is embarking on is no mere physical journey but the start of a spiritual legacy.
However, in purely secular terms, leaving the familiar and comfortable to journey into the unknown is a little crazy.
At the end of the parsha we read ‘And G-d said, “Indeed, your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you shall name him Yitzchak”’ (17:19).
The root for Yitzchak’s name came from Avraham’s statement a few pesukim previously when he expressed joyous incredulity (Vayitzchak) that he and Sarah could still have children.
So we can understand the idea of the birth of Yitzchak of coming from a sense of amazement, a sense of craziness – how could this be happening – it is a joyous happening, but the fact that it is happening is crazy, it’s not normal.
Now look at our Shlichim, they have left their home, they have left families, friends – almost the reverse of Avraham –yet the reason they have left temporarily is in order to teach and spread the connection to the land, the people and the Torah of Israel – the teachings of Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaacov.
So why do they do it?
Because they are crazy in a most wonderful, positive way. They feel a sense of achraiyut- responsibility for the Jewish people. The remarkable reality of Israel is that it is the Jewish State and therefore many of its inhabitants grow up with the realisation that there is a Jewish family out there who live outside the Land who need support, help and inspiration.
So, they come for 3-5 years and give of themselves and their families to uplift us, our families and our communities and teach us the idea of Kol Yisrael Areivim Zeh Ba Zeh – all Jewish people are responsible for each other.
Yes, they are crazy – and we thank G-d that they are – and in many ways we are all a little crazy – you have to be to be Jewish.
This week we celebrate the birth of our people with Avraham, and the fact that we are still learning, observing and practicing 3756 years later is more than amazing, remarkable and crazy it is proof of a Divine promise
‘And I will establish My covenant between Me and between you and between your seed after you throughout their generations as an everlasting covenant, to be to you for a God and to your seed after you.’ (17:7)
And here we are, thirty-eight centuries later, the everlasting covenant.
Crazy but true!
Rabbi Andrew Shaw