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In Melbourne Shabbat begins Fri 22 Feb 2019 07:52 PM and ends Sat 23 Feb 2019 08:50 PM
כ"ד טבת ה' אלפים תשס"ט
Pictured Rabbi Meir Sholomo Kluwgant and the Master of Ceremonies, Steven Pinch, President St Kilda Shule
Moray Varaboysay -Ladies and Gentlemen,
I had much I wanted to say - a whole long speech written up - but I shall put it all to the side to share but one thought with you.
One morning in my childhood I was sitting in shul - sitting in the Synagogue reciting the morning prayers; it was one of the intermediary festival days - I remember not exactly which one. But right in the middle of the prayers - during the Amidah - the silent prayers - a woman ran into the shul.
She made her way to the Aron Kodesh - the Holy Ark - she grabbed hold of its velvet curtain and cried out - she screamed and wailed at the top of her lungs with all her might - G-d - Save my son! She fell to her knees and broke down sobbing.
We found out later that her son was having a serious and potentially life threatening surgery and things were not looking up.
I remember vividly two comments that were made by two of my teachers while all this was going on.
The first teacher said - look what it takes to get a person to come to shul. That is what he said - Look what it takes to get a person to shul.
The second teacher, who had tears in his own eyes and clearly felt the pain and suffering of this woman, responded by saying - look where this woman comes when she finds herself dire-straights. Look where she comes.
Ladies and gentlemen - during times of crisis and difficulties - THIS, right here, is where we belong.
The lady who came to shul in her time of crisis - she was searching for answers to questions, real questions, for direction, for comfort and for reassurance - that all was going to be okay - her soul led her, brought her here - to the place where it belongs.
Our sages tell us the A-mighty G-d looked into the Torah and created the world - that the blue prints for all of creation, indeed the very DNA structure of our souls is to be found in the Torah - and in that Torah - G-d states - "Wherever my Name is mentioned - I will come among you and bless you".
We are in need of G-d's blessing - indeed we have been the recipient of G-d's blessings - with the daily, hourly miracles that have been occurring in Israel - but at this time we turn to the Almighty, we mention his holy Name and we pray for peace for stability and security, for a real and final end to this war and all wars and for the ultimate blessing - that Moshiach come to unite us all and to take us back as one to our homeland Israel - speedily in our days.
How impotent do we feel - sitting here in comfortable chairs with all that is going on in Israel - what can we do? There have been lots of suggestion - tonight what we are going to do is what Torah instructs us to do - to gather together as a community; men. Women and children, and to engage in the three vital elements of any such gathering - Torah, Tefillah and Tzedaka - Torah, prayer and charity.
We will soon join together in Tehillim but I take this opportunity to let you know that there are some kind people at the exits who will be happy to receive your donations. As you exit at the end of tonight's program please give generously to the organizations represented here tonight including Yad Eliezer who send food packages to soldiers and families in need, Magen David Adom - saving lives on a daily, hourly basis in Israel, and Friends of Bet Halochem who provide rehabilitation for soldiers and others in need. All charity given tonight will be evenly distributed amongst these worthy organizations
We are gathered here today, because we are a nation of peace. Following the example of Aharon Hacohen - the great high priest - Ohev Shalom, Rodef Shalom, Ohev Et Habriyot Umekorvan LaTorah. We love Peace, we pursue Peace, and we have an intrinsic love for all of G-d's creations.
And with this in mind I call to the Bima a number of Rabbis and community leaders to lead us in Tehilim and Prayer. Ladies and gentlemen you may remain seated, but please join us and read along together as the Tehilim is recited.
Rabbi Kluwgant is the President of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria