Perashat VayigashFriday, December 26, 2014
We all have heard and used the idiom “Step up to the plate”. Its literal meaning is for a batter in baseball to move near home plate in preparation for striking the ball when it is pitched. Other meanings however, have been assigned to this idiom. It could mean to move into a position where one is ready to do a task, or to take responsibility for doing something.
Perashat Vayigash begins with relating how Yehuda ‘stepped up to the plate’ and took responsibility of defending his youngest brother Binyamin when he realized that he was in danger of being taken prisoner by Yosef. Yehuda used all his presence and power to right what he saw was wrong and maintain the family intact. Despite the differences and previous acrimony between the brothers, Yehuda understood that after all, they are children of one father and have one destiny.
As Jews, despite our differences and disagreements, we recognize that we are descendant of one father and have one destiny. When we see Jews in other parts of the world being hurt and discriminated against, we ‘step up to the plate’ to defend them and share in their pain.
This Shabbat I was invited to be a guest speaker at the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations - OU Annual Convention. The entire convention is geared toward the understanding and solving “Global Challenges Facing World Jewry”. As brothers, Ashkenazim and Sephardim must unite to face those challenges and find resolution to them. The External Challenges include, Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Demonization, De-legitimization, Double Standard and BDS against Israel; including the banning of Shehita – Ritual slaughtering and Circumcision in several European Countries. The Internal Challenges include Assimilation, Inter-Denominational discord, Secular against Religious and vice versa, and unfortunately Jewish Anti-Semitism/Anti-Zionism.
We have an awesome task to tackle and resolve. It can only be resolved with unity and perseverance. The idiom ‘United we stand, divided we fall’ is worthy to take notice of.
May 28 2020
Sivan 5 5780