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Showing posts from March, 2011

Alles op z'n kop

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Deze column verscheen eerder in maart 2011 op Nieuw W!J.

Ik moet blij zijn maar het wil niet zo lukken. Morgenavond begint Poerim, het vrolijke joodse ‘carnaval’ waarin de boekrol Esther wordt gelezen, we ons verkleden en stomdronken worden: dit alles ter viering dat ‘we’ het weer een keer overleefd hebben.
Zoals bij veel carnavals worden tijdens het Poerimfeest de gezagsverhoudingen op z'n kop gezet. In het bijbelverhaal weet de joodse koningin Esther het genocidale plan van de kwade Haman te torpederen en redt zij daarmee haar volk. Met Haman loopt het minder goed af. Hij komt te bungelen aan de galg die hij had opgezet om zijn snode plannen mee uit te voeren.
Op Poerim volgt een aantal weken later het Pesachfeest waarin we de uittocht uit de Egyptische slavernij herdenken. Ook hierin worden de genocidale plannen van een dictatoriale snoodaard - farao - gedwarsboomd. Ditmaal is dat de held Mozes. Farao wilde alle pasgeboren Hebreeuwse jongetjes verzuipen in de Nijl. Ook hier verri…

Parashat Tzav

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Sermon Finchley Reform, Parashat Tzav
Duty and Sacrifice
He is prepared to die. It is his job. He brings his sacrifice, his burnt-offering.
We do not know his face or his name. We know nothing of his place of birth, his family or his interests. What is his favourite food? What film did he see last? Did he kiss his wife goodbye before he left to minister to his dreadful task with grim determination?
How can one begin to speak about the open wound of disaster? Words do not seem fitting yet silence becomes an accomplice in forgetting. No words can quiet the tremors of Japan’s earthquakes. When faced with a disaster of such Biblical proportions, questions of meaning push to the fore. As audacious (and perhaps even fruitless) as the task seems, it is our duty to find perspective on these events. At the same time, we should be cautioned to remember that neither justification nor comfort can be found in the inadequacy of mere words.
The official death toll runs in the tens of thousands but will …

Parashat Pekudei

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Finchley Reform Synagogue Parashat Pekudei
This sermon explores the overarching theme touched upon in last week's sermon: can we draw an analogy between the power struggles in Torah and the pressing events of today's world?

Accountability
It’s been quite an intrepid journey, a political saga. These past five weeks, we have witnessed a people and its leadership wrestle with each other. Five weeks ago in parashat Terumah, the building of the Tabernacle was birthed in idealism. The people generously laid their riches at the feet of Moses and Aaron. But something transpired. The outpour of popular devotion was used to furnish not only the Mishkan itself but was also used to bolster the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Did the nascent Israelite democracy shift towards a theocracy?
In parashat Tetzaveh we saw the Israelite donations transformed into priestly wealth. The High Priest, Aaron, is made a glorious garment. Yet Moses is silent. What happened between the sibling-rulers? Was there …