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06/19/2020 12:31:13 PM


Rabbi Weinberg

Imagine the camera spanning the streets of a major urban center in our country a few short weeks ago. The impressive buildings stand empty. The streets are clean and still. Not a person, not an automobile is present. Silence dominates the scene.

The Doner Ad agency in Detroit produced an amazing ad entitled, “When The Motor Stops.” Utilizing the backdrop of a vacated downtown Detroit they created the following powerful text.

It feels unnatural not to be in motion,
For the city built on four wheels to be still.

But the vacant streets and empty stadiums
are not signs of our retreat but of our resolve.

This is not us sitting out the fight,
This is us winning it.
Our fist doesn’t need to have strength.
If he were alive, even Henry, himself would have put it in park.

So, take this isolation as a sign of our togetherness,
As we take care of ourselves and the ones close to us.

Because, although it is time for America’s motor to stop,
We’re coming back with all eight cylinders,
Because here we don’t stop in the name of fear,
We stop in the name of love.

Again, I encourage you to view this poignant ad after Shabbos entitled, “When The Motor Stops.”

For nine of the past ten weeks, our country has been a picture of love. From the first responders, to our physicians, nurses, and all medical care personnel, the demonstrations of altruism have been memorable. People helping people. Children preparing meals for overextended first responders. Families assisting families. So many, seemingly pulling for each other, expressing empathy.

How many families have had to bury loved ones in absentia! The hurt and pain of this ordeal has been so taxing. And yet, the expressions of love, support, giving, and caring for our fellowman have touched us to our core, continuously- we are sharing, we are in this together- this invisible contagion knows no boundaries.

And, then George Floyd died while being pinned to the ground by a member of the Minneapolis police. Riots erupted. Anger and frustration were fueled. Clearly aided by the tension of lost jobs and insecurity attributed to the pandemic, our streets were anything but expressions of love. Looting ensued. Destruction of property was rampant. Loss of life was inevitable. The love that defined our response to COVID 19 went up, literally in smoke.


Another terrible new normal had overtaken communities large and small- the pain of racism, injustice, prejudice and bias has stared us down once again! Will we hear the plight of our neighbors this time?

This week’s Torah portion, Naso, includes, arguably the most quoted and well-known blessing in the Bible. In this week’s sedra we learn the extraordinary words associated with the Priestly blessing- Birkat Kohanim. Arranged w such precision- three lines of three, five and seven words, successively, syllables progressing from 12, to 14, and 16! The precision and structure are stunning. Hebrew……May God bless you and keep you, may God cause His countenance to shine upon you and be gracious unto you, May God lift up His spirit onto you and grant you the most significant gift, in all its ramifications- Shalom.

As the kohanim (the priests) prepared to bless the people on a daily basis with this beautiful expression they were required to first recite a blessing. That blessing, the only one of its kind, ends with the expectation that the kohanim express their blessing with love. They were commanded by God to bless the people lovingly, with an understanding that they were giving of themselves to see others experience success and fulfillment. They had to feel love, to evoke love before they were able to invoke God’s blessing.


We, too are commanded… to love God, to love our neighbor, and to love the stranger. The Zohar teaches us that, “a Priest who does not love the people, or a Priest who is not loved by the people may not bless.” A Kohen must love his people and you and I are to mimic the Priest’s behavior.


To love is to respect. To love is to practice self-restraint. To love is to demonstrate our capacity to put others needs before our own.


If there is one thing our country needs now it is the ability to share, to stand with one another and share the bounty of this resourceful country. When we are able to move beyond our own four walls and campaign for everyone’s welfare then we will know we have demonstrated love, that we have understood what it means to bless another person, what it means to live, guided by a deep abiding sense of love.


I believe we all can expect more from ourselves and our world needs so much more from us.


Shabbat Shalom,


Thu, April 15 2021 3 Iyyar 5781