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In Praise of Isaac

Friday, 31 August, 2012 - 2:14 pm

Dear Friends,

Firstly it is our hope that everyone came through Hurricane Isaac safely. We are old and experienced when it comes to storms and the damage that results but it is still tough to deal with. Hopefully Hashem will give us each the strength to overcome these challenges.

At this point most of uptown (and many other areas) still do not have power. Yet we managed to maintain the minyan throughout the storm missing only Wednesday morning minyan while the storm was at its peak. It appears that we will be moving Shabbat services to Rabbi Zelig and Bluma Rivkin’s home – 919 Broadway, where a generator keeps some of the electricity going. Feel free to join us for services tonight at 7 and tomorrow at 10.

During the days of the storm many people referenced the name that was assigned to it – Isaac – and the obvious connection to Patriarch Isaac. Humor and a healthy dose of irreverence always help us get through tough times - and I certainly laughed along with most of the comments. There were some that I feel crossed the line of appropriate – casting aspersions on Isaac’s relevance and impact on Jewish life and thought (without any humor – I may add).

There are many central things that Isaac brings to Judaism. First and foremost the idea of circumcision at eight days old, a fundamental concept representing our essential bond with G-d. The idea of self-sacrifice – by an adult at the Akeidah (Isaac was 37 years old) is also a deep lesson. Of all three fathers, Isaac is the one who is instructed not to leave the Holy Land because of his specialness. Finally the Talmud declares that when Moshiach comes we will call out to Isaac (of all three) saying, “for you are our father.” For it is Isaac who teaches us how to live in this world while maintaining a life out of the “world to come.”

May the merit of our father Isaac protect us from the fallout and damage wrought by the storm that bears his name.

Mazel Tov to Akiva (Wyatt) Hall on his Aufruf (aliyah on the Shabbat before a wedding) this Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom and think cool thoughts!
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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