First from Cantor Lee: The first week of November this year we read the Torah portion, Noah. G-d puts a rainbow in the sky..... On Rosh Hashanah evening this year, "The Rainbow" was the title of Rabbi David's sermon/story. Enjoy!
The Rainbow by Rabbi David RH Eve Sermon
This year there were major changes in the communication style between G-D almighty and yours truly. Some of our members correctly pointed out to me that sending an email to G-D is way passe', old fashioned and behind the times.
Heaven forbid, we should suggest the Creator of Time is behind the times...
Therefore all my communication with G-D from now on is by Tweet or Instagram. Since the holidays were approaching I got myself a Tweeter account (yes, Rabbi David means to say "Tweeter" account here - his sense of humor...)and was ready to tweet that I would like to discuss some urgent Jewish matters with the Old Mighty. I do this, as you know every year before the High Holidays. It is of course a Holiday tradition.
Usually I am the one doing the talking, the complaining. He is listening. I tweeted that I would like to have our annual discussion hoping that he would see it.
"Dear Rabbi David" the reply said, " you complain to me every year. But since it is your tradition to kvetch and complain at this time of the year about all the problems in the world I will yet again honor your tradition.
However just like last year, this holiday season again I cannot send down my chariot that usually picks you up since it has a transmission problem. And since we don't have a heavenly Uber service yet, all of our communication will have to be more of the earthly high tech kind.
Not good enough I thought to myself! I immediately tagged on G-D's face book page a selfi of myself being upset!
I wrote, "We must meet! How about if I meet your representative in some more earthly venue like a restaurant. We have some nice restaurants here in Boca." He tweeted me back, "Agreed!! But I choose the venue. And it will be on Mt. Sinai. Date and time to follow."
Mt Sinai?! How in the world....will I get to Mt. Sinai? I want to tell you that as you know, every year as the High Holy Days are approaching my beloved wife Cantor Lee gets nervous. She wonders what kind of kakamaimi story about meeting with G-D will I tell her this year? The news did not sit well with my beloved wife.
Cantor Lee, may she be blessed, was very upset with my new mishegaas."Are you telling me, my dear husband, the Rabbi, that you are going to schlep half way across the world to climb on some mountain?
Why can't G-D talk to you here in Boca Raton? There are so many nice places, country clubs, beach front hotels. Why can't you use skype or face time like normal people?'
But I insisted. "Just like old Moses," I told her, "when G-D Tells you to go, you go."
Sure enough, the complete instructions came a few days later with the date and time specified. When I reach the top of the mountain I will be greeted by a man. His name is Angel Chaim. He is assigned to listen to all my grievances and complaints.
I packed some clothes and food and bought a ticket to Israel on El Al. After a long flight I arrived in Israel in the early morning and immediately took a bus to Eilat, the closest city to the Sinai border.
Sinai as you know is not a safe place for travelers. Several terror organizations are active there, fighting with the Egyptian government. And yet tourists are crossing the border from Eilat.
At the border I joined a tourist group which boarded an old Egyptian bus. And that is how the actual trip to Mt. Sinai started. It is an hour's ride though the bare hot desert to get to the mountain. Nothing but sand and sky. The tour bus finally stopped at my destination.
"Jabel Musa" the tour guide called in Arabic. Mt. Moses. All the tourists got off the bus to take some selfies with the mountain in the background.
They were so excited and felt very special. Then the tour bus continued toward Cairo, Egypt. They promised to pick me up on the way back from their Nile tour in three days. I hoped so. It's a long way back to Eilat from here.
I started climbing the mountain for my rendezvous.
You think Masada is hard to climb? Let me tell you. Good old Moses must have been in amazing shape at the age of 80 something to scale this mountain. One has to be crazy to climb it in the middle of the day with this kind of heat. I was wondering what time of the day G-D asked Moses to climb the mountain to get the Ten Commandments.
As I was ascending I remembered the story about Elijah the prophet who by order of G-d went from Judea all the way to Mt Sinai. He climbed the mountain, then stood there at the top looking for G-D. There was no thunder, no fire, no noise, just a calm wind that blew through the mountain top.
That's when he finally understood that G-D appears in the calm and quiet of his soul.
As the mid day calm desert wind blew and the silence of the wilderness really began to stir me, I got a glimpse of what Elijah felt finding his G-D in all of this.
The energy around was intense. I kept climbing for hours drinking from the water I brought with me. I reached the top as the sun was setting in the west.
What a beautiful sight! The desert sky turned all red as the sun began to disappear and the wind grew a little stronger, blowing against me, cooling me down.
I was exhausted. I lay down on the ground getting ready to sleep. Angel Chaim will most likely not come tonight...
I slept like a rock among all rocks around me. Pre- dawn desert is just as beautiful as the sunsets. As I woke up, I sat there quietly watching the sun begin to rise in the east and felt that quiet wind blowing. What a sight!
Before I realized that I was hungry and thirsty I spotted a man approaching me out of nowhere, a little strange looking with a short beard, sun glasses baseball hat, khaki shorts and a tee shirt. It read, 'In G-D we trust. Everyone else prays.'
"Rabbi David I presume," he said with a big smile and a healthy handshake. It is so good to finally meet you in person. "Angel Chaim, good to see you too," I replied.
"And how was your trip?" I assured him that I was well and in good spirits and looking forward to our serious discussion about this year's urgent Jewish matters.
"Here," he said as he unpacking his backpack, "I brought you a few pastrami on rye sandwiches, some water and some heavenly fruits - all Glat kosher. After all, we cannot have a serious discussion on an empty stomach." I agreed.
After a nice breakfast it was now time for the business at hand. Angel Chaim pulled out his laptop and began diligently typing everything I was saying.
"Look, your honor, your angelness," I started, "every year we seem to have the same discussion. I complain about the chaos in our world, wars, terror, hatred, hunger, anti-Semitism. All I get are promises and what are supposed to be comforting words. Then, someone in heaven records my complaints, backs them into the clouds in a file, then files it away in the heavenly Archive. And the situation gets worse."
Angel Chaim hesitated for a minute and then pointed at the desert. "What do you see?" he asked.
"I see the endless desert with beautiful mountains around us."
"And what do you feel?"
"I feel serene and calm. I feel the calm wind of the early morning desert."
"And did you feel that way last night?" "No," I said, it was pitch dark. I felt a little uncomfortable lying on the ground in an unfamiliar place."
"And what happened when the sun rose?" he continued. "Well," I said, "with the light came the calmness. I saw the beauty of this place and the light wind brought peace and calm."
"And yet," Angel Chaim insisted, "this is a desert, a harsh environment which can be very unsafe and frightening. " "This is true," I replied.
Looking at my puzzled face he continued.
"This desert is a beautiful place. I myself come here sometimes to relax and have a drink in my happy hour. The rough and hostile environment along with its beauty have co existed here for a long time."
"So you are trying to tell me that world turmoil will always co exist with us as part of our life? And I had to come all the way here to hear this? You could have just said that to me on skype back in Boca!"
Angel Chaim smiled again. "Tell me Rabbi, after a long period of rain, when the sun finally emerges from the dark clouds, what usually happens?"
"Well, when it is still drizzling and the sun comes up, we see the rainbow of course."
"Well, Rabbi, would you please look up in the sky?"
I looked up towards the rising sun and the most amazing thing happened. A beautiful rainbow appeared in the east.
No rain . No drizzling. Just a large colorful rainbow!
"Do you get it now, Rabbi? You keep asking us to create miracles, to miraculously bring peace unto the world. It is not that simple but not impossible."
I was still puzzled.
"Miracles only come with Hope, Rabbi. Hope for Peace is a powerful gift, given to people. It helps defeat evil. It has been helping many generations before you and generations to come. Just as this rainbow always will be with you.... so will the Hope that comes with your prayers for peace.
I answered, "We have been hearing this for thousands of years. Can you be more specific? How about some kind of time frame?"
Angel Chaim smiled, "the stronger your hope, the stronger you are. The more you cherish what you believe the faster it will come."
The man with the strange tee shirt who called himself Chaim the Angel was packing his bag. "Keep the faith Rabbi," he said, "evil does not exist forever."
The biblical story suggests that after his Mt. Sinai experience Elijah the prophet felt content for the first time after a long period of aggravation.
I was not sure. I just stood there staring at Chaim, the angel. He left with a promise to deliver our conversation to his boss, the Old Mighty and disappeared as suddenly as he came.
As the sun rose in the east I climbed down the mountain. Not a small task for my sore knees and waited for the tourist bus returning from Cairo. I had plenty of time to think about my encounter with Mr. Chaim, the Angel.
I wondered what I could take from this experience to tell my congregation back in Boca Raton. I thought about eternal hope and steadfast belief in a better world, a peaceful world.
In the famous musical, "Fiddler on the Roof" there is an expulsion scene when the Jews of the Shtetl of Anatevka are forced out of their homes, not knowing where to go. As they were chased out of their homes, they turned to their Rabbi. "Rabbi," they said, "wouldn't now be a very good time for the Messiah to come?"
"Yes," replied the rabbi. We will just have to keep waiting for him somewhere else..." to which the Rambam one of the greatest Jewish scholars of all time who lived in the 11th century said the following: "I believe in the coming of the Messiah and although he is delayed I will keep waiting for him to come.."
And it occurred to me that this year will be a very good time for peace to come. And if peace is delayed for some reason, as the Ramabam said, we will just have to continue to hope and pray for it.
And if we need another word of encouragement...
This afternoon my cousin Mario called me to wish me Happy New Year. He pointed out that this is the Jewish year of 5777. If we add the numbers we get 26. The number 26 is also the numerical value of the sacred letters of G-D's name, the Yud Hey Vav Hey. 10 is for Yud, Hey 5 Vav 6 Hey 5. The year 5777 is the year of G-D.
Perhaps this is a message for us that in this Year of G-D, this is the year Peace will Come. May it be so....