To kvetch, or not to kvetch?

Dear Friend,

While I was overseas, Elie Wiesel- one of the great moral voices of our generation- passed away. A Holocaust survivor, celebrated author and Nobel peace prize Laureate, Elie Wiesel gave our generation permission to move forward from the Holocaust. He did so begrudgingly; his haunting autobiography, “Night”, leaves very little room for hope in humanity or her future. But as he slowly grew and developed within himself, so did his relationship with the world around him, and with his G-d and Judaism. His primary lesson, to never be indifferent to suffering, became the conscience of the free world in the 20th and 21st centuries.

I reflect on this as we approach the Jewish calendar’s annual mourning period, known as the Three Weeks. Ostensibly it is designed to commemorate the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem. But underneath the religious patina lies the ongoing struggle that the Jew has had with our destiny with persecution. We pour all 3300 years of Jewish tzoress into these 3 weeks, bookending it with fast days.

And I can hear my good friend David protesting that we should stop with Jewish kvetching and the victim mentality; Jews haven’t had it better in at least 2000 years! I think David is right. It would be unfortunate to define our Peoplehood and existence as a tragic opera. Jewish history is one of great Jewish achievement and ingenuity; of justice and the moral clarion call of our Prophets; of Torah study and performance of Mitzvot.

Yet, for the next 3 weeks, we will refrain from certain normal and joyous activities and dedicate 2 of those days to fasting. Elie Wiesel taught us that you can look back, but not to kvetch. We look back- deep within ourselves, within our history and within our current personal and collective state- so that we may Jewishly commit to our future. Unlike previous generations who were often defined by tragedy, we must define ourselves by our successes. But that in turn must demand from us a high degree of responsibility.

It is this responsibility that frames my thoughts as we enter the “three weeks”. With all the freedom and success that my generation enjoys what am I going to do to fulfil G-d’s vision for a perfect Messianic world? How am I going to utilize my personal and collective gifts to improve someone else’s life?

Rebbetzin Chani Hecht will be hosting another Ima & Me this Shabbas day from 10:30-11:15am. Further details in the Shmooze.

Welcome back, Rabbi Hecht! The Rabbi will be delivering a report back from the Rabbinical Conference in Jerusalem. Tomorrow, 12pm, following the brocho.

Daven e caffe now takes place on the last Wednesday of each month, so please diarize this coming Wednesday, July 27, 7am!

A huge mazel tov to Mel Marshall on his 80th birthday! The Psalmist call this decade one of Gevurah, might. May your birthday be filled with mighty blessings and nachas.

Mazel tov to Shoshi Rabinowitz who is celebrating her grandson’s bar mitzvah in Melbourne, Australia. Much nachas!

Mazels to Andy and Jacqui Rodgers on the engagement of their son Shawn in Israel. Enjoy this special time!

The day after my brother’s wedding in New York, I cast my thoughts to Israel where Chorister Norman and Sharlene Katzeff were celebrating their son Josh’s wedding. Mazel tov to the entire family and especially to bobba Ruth Katzeff!

Rosh Hashanah magazine. This is a last call for articles or advertisements. Please contact Hillary at the Shul office or email Hillary@maraisroadshul.com.

Condolences to Judy Dadon on the tragic passing of her sister Ruth Golembo. We wish her and the entire family strength and may Hashem grant them comfort.

Although we don’t offer formal words of comfort before a funeral, our thoughts are with Gary Briner and his family on the passing of his father, Lennie. Special wishes from the Wednesday group.

In the words of the Prophets, “may these days be transformed into days of celebration and joy”.

Shabbat shalom and happy reading!

Rabbi Dovid Wineberg