Sermon: Shabbat Pinhas, 7/13/12

July 12th, 2012 by admin | Filed under Sermons.

Who may go out before them (Numbers 27:17)                                          

Shabbat Shalom. In this week’s parasha, Moshe learns of his impending death and asks God to appoint a new leader; a leader that will “go out before them – AHSHARE YEH`TZEH LEEF`NAH`KHEM … (27:17).

            This phrase is usually understood to refer to a military role; however, Rabbi S.R. Hirsch (19th C.) explains that Moshe described a leader willing to devote himself to work for the good of the nation. “[Going out] refers to his ability, apart from military activity, for public activity of every kind…the activity of the shepherd is devoted to the thriving and welfare of the flock.”

            Wow, what an amazing concept, that a leader should be devoted to the thriving and welfare of the people!  Now, wait a second, I know what you are thinking, is the rabbi going to talk about the presidential campaign? No, sorry, not all; rather let me ask you a question: On July 27th, do you plan to watch the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics from London?

            Truth be told, I’m not a big fan of these ceremonies; the only part that I like to see is when the Israeli delegation parades into the stadium.  But this year, I’m not going to watch because of what I consider a grave breach of the responsibility of leadership of the IOC President, Jacques Rogge – his refusal, and the IOC committee’s refusal to devote their activity to the welfare of the entire flock.

            This year will mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich Massacre when 11 members of the Israeli delegation were murdered by Palestinian terrorists. In every successive Summer Games, the IOC has been petitioned for a moment of silence during the Opening Ceremonies.  This year, the governments of Australia, Canada, Germany and the U.S. have also petitioned the IOC for a moment of silence.

            In May, the IOC responded – NO – the IOC staunchly protects what they consider the incursion of politics into the Olympics. President Jacques Rogge has been asked to reconsider; it is highly unlikely that he will do so.

            In the words of David Harris, the Executive Director of the American-Jewish Committee: “The 11 victims in 1972 were Israeli, but the Palestinian terror attack …was an assault on all who came to participate peacefully in the spirit of the Olympics. The IOC refusal to hold a moment of silence during the London games opening ceremony…is simply shameful. How else can we interpret the IOC decision but as political in what is meant to be a non-political movement?”

            Guido Westerwelle, the German Foreign Minister wrote to Rogge: “Holding a moment of silence in memory of the fallen Israeli athletes during the London Olympics will count as a kind, humanitarian gesture, and will send the message that violence and terror do not comply with the Olympic idea.”

            Again, in the words of David Harris:  “The 40th anniversary of that tragedy is a perfect opportunity for the Olympics to properly honor the memory of those innocent Israelis. Is a minute of silence too much to ask, given the tragedy that befell the Israeli contingent and, indeed, the entire Olympic movement?” 

            IMHO, the president of the IOC is not a leader that will “go out before them – AHSHARE YEH`TZEH LEEF`NAH`KHEM.” Therefore, on July 27th, as NBC broadcasts the opening ceremonies, I will not be watching. My eyes, my mind, my heart will recall the images of those murdered 11 Israelis, and that they are still publically ignored by the IOC. After all, did not the then president of the IOC, Avery Bundage state: “The games must go on…”

            A moment of silence would clearly teach that the world must not know such horrors ever again.

            Kain y`hee ratzon – may it so be God’s will & ALUASA.