Annual meeting D'var Torah

Good evening,

Pirkei Avot teaches that when 2 are together and share words of Torah, the presence of God dwells with them. Being here with you in this form, I know that God is dwelling in all of our homes. That’s what we do here at CBI, we work to bring God’s presence into our lives. Through prayer, community, social action, we build connection with one another and with the Holy One.

I know that for many today’s meeting brings strong feelings. Those emotions come from a holy place. Trying to plan the strongest future for CBI brings out strong feelings. In our tradition, we speak about mahlokhet lshem shamayim, arguments for the sake of heaven. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the UK, wrote that our sages saw “a fundamental distinction between two kinds of conflict: argument for the sake of truth and argument for the sake of victory.”

As you all discuss these vital issues for CBI, I pray that we will listen to one another, and argue for truth, for the best possible future of CBI.

While I have gotten behind with daf yomi, the daily study of Talmud, today’s selection discusses the power of letters and words.

Shabbat 104a:

שְׁכִיחַ. וּמַאי טַעְמָא שִׁיקְרָא אַחֲדָא כַּרְעֵיהּ קָאֵי, וֶאֱמֶת מְלַבַּן לַבּוֹנֵי — קוּשְׁטָא קָאֵי, שִׁיקְרָא לָא קָאֵי.

They further taught:

Shin: Falsehood [sheker]. Tav: Truth [emet].

Why are the letters of the word sheker adjacent to one another in the alphabet, while the letters of emet are distant from one another? That is because while falsehood is easily found, truth is found only with great difficulty. And why do the letters that comprise the word sheker all stand on one foot, and the letters that comprise the word emet stand on bases that are wide like bricks? Because the truth stands eternal and falsehood does not stand eternal.

We are a kehillah kedoshah, a holy community. We argue for the sake of truth. We argue to bring us together and to build a relationship between God and humanity. We argue to build a better world. Today, I pray that we will not merely argue, but will listen, consider, study and share holy thoughts, strengthening CBI for all its members, from 2 months to 1219 months (or 101 and 7 months).