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The Nine Days

Tonight begins the “nine days”. This is the Jewish mourning period concluding with the Tsha Ba’av observance. Tsha Ba’av marks the destruction of both the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. Historically there are many other tragedies which occurred on this day including the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492.

Today, Israel faces an existential threat from Iran and other countries in the Middle East. Prime Minister Netanyahu has expressed his concern that Iran makes no secret about the fact that its goal is to wipe out and destroy the Jewish nation.
The greatest weapons we have to counter this display of animosity and hatred is prayer and “achdus”. Achdus means togetherness and is the essential principal which builds and sustains our people. In fact, the Second Holy Temple, destroyed over two thousand years ago in 70 AD, came about because of hatred without basis- “sinas chinam” in Hebrew. There is an expression in English which appears as a bumper sticker which says “Do acts of random kindness”. It is a great remedy for those who spew hatred and negativity. One of my Rabbis once said that the best way to counter Arab hatred was to love the Arabs till they recognized the Holiness and beauty of Judaism and the Jewish people. (He said smother them with love).

Michael Oren, the American born former ambassador of Israel to the United States has recently written a book called Ally. It is important, vital, and critical that Israel’s citizens have allies, friends and well wishers. I recall that in the fall of 1990, I traveled with a small group of people to Israel just prior to the Gulf War. There was a tremendous amount of tension and our group which originally intended to take over three hundred people dwindled to less than fifty. Wherever we went in Israel people stopped us to say: thank you for coming to Israel-we feel good that you’ve come now- we don’t want to feel isolated and alone.

I cannot make a prediction about the existential threats that Israel faces. But what I can say is that everyone who supports Israel through charitable giving, visits, prayers, and general support helps to bring some comfort and balance to our people. We are particularly blessed that many of you have made the Lev Lalev Orphanage and Children’s Home in Netanya your personal connection to Israel. Our one hundred and ten girls represent Israel’s future. Each has the potential to help ensure the creative survival of the Jewish people. You stand as a partner with us in ensuring the future of Israel. Todah Raba-thank you.

May we all receive and witness the blessing of the Kohanim. May Hashem bless us; may Hashem make His face shed light upon you. May He bring us peace in our time.

Amen, Shimon Pepper- July 16, 2015 Birkhat_cohanim_1

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