Dvar Torah - March 2022 (Ukraine Situation)

by Rabbi Mauricio Balter

In general, when I write my text for the newsletter, I look in the Hebrew calendar to tie it to the festivity coming up in the following month. No doubt, the beginning of the month Adar Bet (the second month of Adar in the leap year, which in the Hebrew calendar adds an extra month) should make reference to Purim, the joy of the month, and the corresponding celebrations, however, I cannot but listen to and watch the news. Our communities in Ukraine are in a war zone, our families and dear friends are under the threat of bombs and the cruelty that war brings. The pictures, the photos, the reports we receive do not allow for any relaxation. My conversations with Rabbi Reuven Stamov, the spiritual leader of our communities in in Ukraine, who is working day and night to help in the field the families of the community, just make me shiver. Here in Israel we have taken part and lived through different wars that are always a tough experience, with irreversible consequences, in some cases with the highest price of human lives, in others with the devastating impacts wars leave behind on societies (economic, social, political, etc.) and the scars they leave in souls and minds. War is not left behind automatically, we will have to provide assistance and support to generate effective resilience that will allow survivors to go back to some sort of normal life.

Several days ago we had a prayer for peace with the central organizations of the worldwide Masorti/Conservative Movement. I read the prayer for peace written by Rabbi Nachman (Hasidic Rabbi of Uman, Ukraine).

Prayer for peace and the request for no more wars.

יהי רצון מלפניך ה’ אלוהינו ואלוהי אבותינו ואמותנו שתבטל מלחמות ושפיכות דמים מן העולם, ותמשיך שלום גדול ונפלא בעולם, ולא ישא גוי אל גוי חרב ולא ילמדו עוד מלחמה. רק יכירו וידעו כל יושבי תבל האמת לאמתה: שלא באנו לזה העולם בשביל ריב ומחלוקת, ולא בשביל שנאה וקנאה וקנטור ושפיכות דמים, רק באנו לעולם כדי להכיר אותך תתברך לנצח. ובכן רחם עלינו וקיים בנו מקרא שכתוב: “ונתתי שלום בארץ, ושכבתם ואין מחריד, והשבתי חיה רעה מן הארץ וחרב לא תעבור בארצכם”. ויגל כמים משפט, וצדקה כנחל איתן. כי מלאה הארץ דעה את ה’ כמים לים מכסים. וכן יהיה רצון, ונאמר: אמן.

May it be your will, oh, our God, and God of our patriarchs and matriarchs, to erase from earth all wars and bloodshed. May your peace continue on earth, so that no one raises a sword against another and the art of war is no longer taught, but all the individuals know the truth, that we have not come to this world to fight and oppose, nor to hate and envy one another, nor to shed blood, God forbid. We only come to this world to know you, oh God.

Spread your mercy over us so that the words of Leviticus will come true: “I will grant peace in the land, and you will lie down and no one will make you afraid. I will remove wild beasts from the land, and the sword will not pass through your country.” May it be so, amen.

And as your prophet Amos says, “But let justice roll on like a river, and righteousness like a never- failing stream!” And prophet Isaiah says:” For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”

Prophets bring us the vision of a world that we all aspire to; let us remember that tikkun olam (to repair the world) is a very important value in the Jewish tradition, we cannot change everything, but with our small grain of sand we can help some of the people who suffer the war, to enjoy a better world. I appreciate all the help and support that we have received to help our communities of Ukraine, and invite those who haven’t yet done it, to contact us and help improve somehow the lives of those persons.

Chodesh tov im besorot tovot

Wishing all a good month with good news.

Rabbi Mauricio Balter

Executive Director of Masorti and MERCAZ Olami

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