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Torah from around the world #200

We All Stand Together // Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16) by Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor Vice President, Philanthropy, World Union for Progressive J dais! "WUPJ#, $e% &or' (s %e approach the t rning of the sec lar calendar, ) often thin' bac' over events in !y life. Pro!pted by this %ee'*s parasha, Bo, certain !o!ents co!e into clear foc s. )n +,,-, %hile s'iing %ith !y fa!ily, ) decided to ta'e a r n on !y o%n. )n those days, ) %as a bit of a .hot-dogger/ 0 yo th and over-confidence in one*s ability co!bined to lead to a bit of rec'lessness. $eeding to be h !bled, ) fo nd !yself in !id-air d ring a 1 !p, only to discover that there %as no !ore sno% nder !e 0 1 st ! d and roc's. ( long and graphic story can be red ced to this2 ) needed !y left 'nee reconstr cted in s rgery, and as ) %as %heeled in, !y s rgeon pro!ised !e that ne3t season, ) %o ld be bac' on the slopes 0 albeit s'iing !ore caref lly. 4 ring those intervening !onths of !y rehabilitation, one of !y dearest friends and colleag es %as diagnosed %ith advanced stage cancer. 5ne of the fe% things that got her thro gh the debilitating treat!ents %as o r pro!ise to each other that %e %o ld s'i together the follo%ing season in (spen. 6o aro nd this very ti!e of year, at the beginning of +,,,, %e headed o t to (spen, 7olorado %ith a plan 0 %e %o ld se one another 0 depend pon one another. Both acco!plished s'iers, %e deigned to ta'e a lesson together to !a'e s re that %e %ere s'iing properly, and then off %e %ent for five days of %onderf l s'iing 0 ca tio s and tentative 0 b t f n nonetheless. 8o% ! ch %e need one another in diffic lt ti!es 0 %e disc ssed this bet%een r ns and on the chairlift. 9he day %e loo' o r lesson together, !y friend and ) learned so!ething very special abo t the place %e s'ied. 9he to%n of (spen %as na!ed for the (spen tree 0 an indigeno s tree %hich has very ni: e characteristics. 9he (spen tree is never fo nd alone 0 it is only fo nd in gro ps. )f one %ere to dig do%n in the soil, one %o ld discover that all the roots of these trees are intert%ined; that is the only %ay that the trees can s rvive the diffic lt environ!ent of roc'y, !o ntaino s soil in high altit des. Moshe rabbayn 0 Moses, o r teacher 0 re!inds s in this %ee'*s 9orah portion that o r co!! nity is very ! ch li'e the (spen trees. (fter a n !ber of plag es, Pharaoh see!s ready to relent and as's Moses ho% !any )sraelites need to go to %orship God. Moses replies2 .We %ill all go, o r yo ng and o r old, o r sons and o r da ghters, o r floc's and o r herds, for %e ! st all observe God*s festival/ "<3od s +=2,#. Pharaoh replies that only the !en %o ld be able to go and Moses holds o t. (fter the final plag e befalls Pharaoh and the <gyptians, Pharaoh called o t, .Up, depart fro!

a!ong !y people, yo and the )sraelites %ith yo > Go, %orship the <ternal as yo said> 9a'e also yo r floc's and yo r herds, as yo said, and begone> (nd !ay yo bring a blessing pon !e also>/ "<3od s +?2@+-@?#. (s %e enter this sec lar $e% &ear, %e %o ld do %ell to be re!inded abo t ho% ! ch %e need each other 0 ho% i!portant it is to stand together, and ho% ! ch a co!! nity depends pon each and every !e!ber of that co!! nity. (lbert <instein, %ho %as often happiest %hen alone, once %rote2 Strange is our situation here upon earth. Each of us comes for a short visit, not knowing why, yet sometimes seeming to divine a purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however, there is one thing we know: that we are here for the sake of others; above all, for those on whose smiles and well-being our own happiness depends; and also for the countless unknown souls with whose fate we are connected by a bond of sympathy. any times a day ! reali"e how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of others, both living and dead, and how earnestly ! must e#ert myself in order to give in return as much as ! have received and am still receiving. (s ) a! often called pon to teach co!! nities aro nd $orth (!erica abo t the re!ar'able %or' of the World Union for Progressive J dais!, 9al! d Bavli*s ad!onition "6hev ot @,a# serves as a the!e, .Aol &israel arevi! Beh b*Beh/ "(ll )srael is responsible one for another#. 5n the top of a !o ntain, fifteen years ago, there %as no !ore tr th in the %orld, as t%o friends, battling their o%n ni: e pains, t rned do%nhill and en1oyed the glories of God*s creation 0 depending on one another. ( Postscript2 this .9orah Cro! (ro nd the World/ is dedicated to the !e!ory of !y beloved friend and teacher, Rabbi J lie Ringold 6pitBer B/l. J lie passed a%ay ten !onths after that s'i trip 0 b t her contrib tions to the Refor! Je%ish co!! nity, as a leader in the $orth (!erican co!! nity and especially her gro nd-brea'ing %or' in do!estic violence %ithin o r o%n co!! nity, contin es to save lives and elevates o r %or'. 9he !e!ory of the righteo s is, indeed, a blessing. (nd !ay %e all have a %onderf l sec lar $e% &ear of ?=+D 0 8appy 6ylvester>