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From the Rabbi's Study

Rabbi Joel Portnoy


Shanah Tovah

As six weeks of war ended in Eretz Yisrael the sirens fell silent and, almost simultaneously, we started to blow the Shofar every morning in Shule in preparation for the coming Yamim Noraim.  

Every day during the months of Ellul and Tishrei we recite Psalm 27, which starts: ”Hashem is my Light and my Salvation”. Let us examine its connection to this summer’s traumatic events and to the period of Teshuva – repentance – that leads us into the Jewish New Year.  This chapter of Tehillim was written by King David when he was fighting for his survival but holding fast to his faith in Hashem as his protector. Even when his allies have forsaken him and false accusers are slandering him, he sees Hashem’s goodness in the world.

Israel stood alone during the war in the face of international criticism and biased media coverage. Thousands of rockets fell, fired indiscriminately from Gaza.   Civilians ran for cover in shelters and beside their cars, and miraculously there were very few casualties. The Iron Dome defence system shot down hundreds of rockets that would otherwise have fallen on Israeli cities and destroyed entire buildings. The hand of G-d was clearly visible in every miraculous interception.

King David’s message is that if we believe that Hashem runs the world, and if we strengthen our belief in Him and try to improve ourselves to match His expectations and follow His commandments, He will give us the courage to trust in Him.

As the year 5775 begins, may we continue to see the guiding hand of Hashem in our lives and in the miracles that He does for the Jewish people. Through our prayers for ourselves, for our families and for Klal Yisrael in the weeks ahead, may we strengthen our faith and become even more deserving of His protection.