Sermon: Matot-Mase 5772

July 22nd, 2012 by admin | Filed under Sermons.

There shall be for you six cities of refuge (Numbers 35:13)

Shabbat Shalom;

            Early Wednesday morning, in response to a news report of hundreds of Syrian refugees crossing in Turkey to seek refuge from the murderous Syrian President Bashar Assad, and due to the escalating crisis, the Syrian military had pulled troops from the Golan Heights to the hot-spots of the revolt; a brigadier general in the Israel Army expressed his concern that it could leave Israel’s border on the Golan with Syria vulnerable to terrorist incursions by Al Queda. In response, my mind was drawn to a  verse in this week’s Torah portion[1] that states:

There shall be for you six cities of refuge (Numbers 35:13)

          שש ערי מקלט תהיינה לכם (במדבר לה:יג)

            Yes, I was going to address this concept until the news broke from Bulgaria and created a nauseous feeling throughout my body. I was going to speak about this concept of the ability to take refuge, the 1st mention in world history of such a protective concept, but that all changed as I came to the realization that instead of the concept of a city of refuge being a positive way to protect those needing such protection, that we live in a world where a city such as Burgas, Bulgaria becomes a refuge to harbor terrorists! That we live in a world that seems incapable of stopping terrorism, or even to make a unified, public statement against it!

            That we live in a country that now reels from a senseless murderous rampage in a movie theater in Aurora, CA.

            That we live in a world in which terrorists can continue to raise their bloody hands against innocent victims. The attack on the Israeli tourist bus at Sarafovo International Airport occurred on the 18th anniversary of the deadly bombing of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires that killed 87. Do you see the horrible irony? We know terrorists plot attacks on anniversaries of prior attacks, but the 18th, Chai – Life – now transformed into death!

            And, as I mentioned last Friday night, we live in a world in which the IOC refuses to grant a moment of silence during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics, 1 week from today, on the 40th Anniversary of the Munich Olympic massacre of the 11 members of the Israeli delegation.  A moment of silence that would clearly state that we are a world that won’t tolerate the scourge of terrorism!

            Oy, oy, oy!  Our suffering is great, our pain is immense; we feel so helpless  – all we can do at this moment in time is offer a prayer, a prayer written by my colleague Menachen Creditor; there was copy available on the table as you walked in – please join with me:

Prayer in Response to the Terror Attack in Bulgaria

By Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Dear God,

It is just too much. On the eighteenth anniversary of the attack that killed eighty-seven of our brothers and sisters in Buenos Aires, we have lost more of our family, this time in Bulgaria. Again. It is just too much. 

So many people, on their way to enjoy Your world, Adonai… We know there is no sufficient answer, but we call out from the depths of our souls: Why? We cannot absorb the pain. 

Today, we are made aware once more of the fragility of goodness and the urgency of peace. We are one family of many families, God. We are bound together with all families in a common life, in a dream of peace. And on days like this that dream shatters into almost irretrievable shards. We need You. 

We mourn for our murdered sisters and brothers cut down today by evil. May their memories be a blessing, and may their souls be bound up in the bond of Life.

We pray for those injured. Merciful One, grant them the courage to continue their daily living.

We pray for the families of those who died today. Merciful One, we have no words, but we ask You to be a Comforting Presence with them.

We pray for the vigilance and care of emergency responders and medical professionals, tending to those local to the attack. God, guide their hands and hearts.

We pray that our elected leaders respond with wisdom and justice, that this horrible event not hold us back – as the Jewish People and as citizens of the world – from helping each other to overcome the threat of terrorism.

Give us hope that one day terrorism will cease, Adonai. And give us the wisdom to do what is necessary to live in safety and peace until that day. 

May our world be blessed with peace. ALUASA.

[1] Verse & link to Syria came from AIPAC’s Torah Tidbits 5772