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Really Believing

Friday, 25 April, 2014 - 1:45 pm

Passover is a holiday from which it takes a long to time to rebound. All of the hard work and preparation as well as the many days of prayer and feasting leave their mark in many ways. Spiritually we hope that we can enjoy the radiance and lessons of Passover for a long time to come. One of the themes of Pesach is using the exodus from Egypt as a channel through which to reflect on our future redemption. Indeed on the last day of Passover we read Isaiah’s prophecy about Moshiach as the Haftara. The Baal Shemtov famously described the eighth day of Pesach as a time in which “the light of Moshiach shines powerfully.”

In the well-known Ani Maamin series, based on Maimonides’ 13 principles of faith, we say regarding Moshiach, “I await his coming every day.” In our daily Amidah we declare, “Your salvation we eagerly anticipate the entire day.” What does it mean to be in a state of waiting or eager anticipation?

“Out of the mouth of babes” goes the old adage based on Psalms. Last week I observed what waiting for Moshiach means to a young child. During Pesach our seven year old daughter, Hinda, shared with us the following experience she had. In New York many Jewish neighborhoods have a very loud siren that is sounded just before the onset of Shabbat and holidays to remind people to cease activity that is prohibited on Shabbat and light the candles. Hinda and her five year old brother Mordechai were playing right before Shabbat when the siren went off. Their immediate reaction was that they were hearing the Shofar blast that heralds the coming of Moshiach and the era of redemption was being ushered in. To these children waiting for and anticipating Moshiach’s coming was so real that they could not conceive of any other purpose for the loud noise. If only we could incorporate some of that child-like sincerity into our lives.

Mazal Tov to Paula George and Allen Samuels upon their recent marriage. Many long healthy years together!

Over Pesach our community suffered the loss of a dear friend, Dr. Stuart Haas or as we knew him, Shmuel Leib ben Yitzchak.

I met Dr. Haas in 1998 when I became the Rabbi at Anshe Sfard. When we started to the adult education programs at the Shul he was one of the stalwarts, attending almost everyone. He also attended many lectures and events at Chabad. He welcomed every opportunity to learn and enrich his knowledge and experience of the religion to which he proudly belonged. Stuart loved being called to the Torah by his Hebrew name and once a year he read a Haftara that he knew very well. 

Dr. Haas had a particular affinity for my young children. So much so that after I left the Synagogue to assume my duties at Chabad House, he used to come on many a Sabbath just to be around the children. They sensed his love and they returned the affection. He used to remind my son Sholom nearly every time he saw him, "remember to invite me to your Bar Mitzvah." In a recent email exchange he told me how he was looking forward to attending the Bar Mitzvah which is to take place on May 4. Alas my dear friend Stuart will be with us, but only in spirit. 

He was a man who cared deeply about Jewish causes and he supported them generously. He loved seeing Jewish children who were involved and committed to Judaism. He felt uplifted and inspired when he was around them. He was a good man who was kind and considerate. He was a warm Jew with a special heart. Farewell my friend Stuart, Shmuel Leib ben Yitzchak. You will not be forgotten - you are in our hearts. May your soul be bound up with the bond of Eternal Life - our Living G-d forever.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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