Sunday, 28 September 2008

Nitzavim 26 September 2008 (West Coast Temple Israel Anniversary)

26th Elul 5768

Here are the first two paragraphs from my talk I did at our West Coast Temple Israel anniversary dinner on Friday 26th September 2008. If you'd like to read the rest please let me know. email david at orbital dot co dot za

Tonight is Shabbat Nitzavim where we read Deuteronomy Chapter 29 vs 13 to 14 which says: “Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath; but with him that standeth here with us this day before the L-rd our G-d, and also with him that is not here with us this day.” And further on we are commanded to choose life and to circumsize our hearts that we mayest live.

These passages are significant as we celebrate 10 years of being together in our West Coast community. We stand here together with the people who have joined and left, those who are still here, with all the strangers who have come into our midst and become our friends, and with those who will be here from today onwards. We have circumsized our hearts, ie we have formed a disciplined body of people, praying together, sharing together, obeying G-d together, welcoming all those of all persuasions to join us as we share in an incredible past and share together in a more exciting future.

Shoftim 6th September 2008

This Shabbat we read Shoftim which translates as Judges. It refers to a passage in the Torah at Deuteronomy Chapter 16 vs 20 which says: "Justice, justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."

Justice in Hebrew is Tzedek. Tzedek is the root of the word Tzedaka which is commonly translated as charity, but Tzedek also means righteousness and justice. Therefore charity can be equated with justice.

Charity not only includes giving money or time, but in a wider sense includes being charitable to another person. Being charitable in this sense involves giving the other person the benefit of the doubt, or perhaps listening more carefully to what they have to say, or enquiring after the other person’s health and wellbeing. This is a just way of behaving, ie a way that is guided by truth, reason, justice and fairness (ref Being just in this way leads to life (“that thou mayest live”). So in order to live, one must be just and charitable. Note here that I am referring to really living, not simply surviving. Really living for me means constant striving to be and remain “Israel” and achieving self-actualization as defined by Maslow. This self actualization includes the basics of life plus safety, loving/belonging, self esteem, respect of self and others, morality, creativity, spontaneity, lack of prejudice, etc.

The next thing that is referred to is the land that though mayest inherit. Besides the land of Israel which we often think of as the country Israel, there is another land. Part of my thesis is that Jacob became Israel in Genesis 32:29. So could it be that the land being referred to here is also the emotional, mental, and spiritual states that our bodies can attain as we move from being Jacobs (unenlightened) to becoming Israels (enlightened)?

Therefore in order to live a full and rewarding life, one should pursue Tzedek and Tzedaka. One should not accept the status quo, but constantly seek to make one’s world a better place, thus leaving one’s world and the wider world better than when one entered it.

If you’d like more information about Jacob becoming Israel, please email me on

Love and a peaceful weekend and Shabbat

David Lipschitz