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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

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Starry Nights 2012

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 “One glorious chain of love, of giving and receiving unites all creatures.” – Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch

It is so difficult to understand the Torah narrative of Creation and the subsequent actions of people that led to great destruction. We read in Bereshit how God created the world and how joyous She was at every step proclaiming, “And it was good” after each day was completed, and saying it twice on the third day.

The world seems to be a global Garden of Eden as the waters separate from the sky and the gardens grow and the insects and animals thrive. Man is created. Woman is sculpted, and the Almighty’s work is done. Therein, it seems, is perfection – the flawless globe and bodies in which we live.

But then a beguiling snake weaves its way into the psyche of woman and man, and the first couple is forced to exit God’s landscape. Cain and Abel, the original brothers, come to blows. One kills the other. Later, a deluge explodes from the heavens and drowns most of Creation.

So what are we to make of our skilfully designed and incompetently managed world?

It would appear that within the seams of Creation, a destructive force is sewn. Mount Everest and the leaves of the Canadian Fall can be called divine, splendid, and the coral reefs of Eilat, heavenly, Godly. But then, looking closer, we see that 120 tons of litter are scattered over the highest mountain in the world, and according to, one-third of the world’s coral reefs have been destroyed over the past 20 years.

We look even closer and discover that sunsets are more stunning than ever, yet 240 million people between 1900 and 2000, or about 12 per cent of the world’s population in 1900 and about four per cent in 2000, were murdered in war.

Knowing this, what are we, creations and co-creators with God, supposed to do?

Perhaps we are supposed to repair. In our day and age, this repairing is called tikkun olam, and it means each of us must strengthen ourselves as Jews and human beings so that we are ensconced in goodness and always aware of the Torah imperative of “veahavta l’reacha kamocha,” love thy neighbour like thyself. Knowing that the form is without flaw but that we are the dented cogs that move it along, we have no choice but to fix the Earth, to develop ourselves.

On Nov. 4, Ve’ahavta: The Canadian Jewish Humanitarian and Relief Committee once again holds its Starry Nights gala. It will no doubt be a beautiful evening, when we will enjoy Stephen Page’s music and celebrate six Tikun Olam Award winners, including Elly Gotz, Dr. Isaac Sobol, Faye Schulman, Dr. Philip Berger, Ellen Schwartz and Adam Hummel. We will commit to emulating their deeds.

On Nov. 4, 700 of us will gather in the Telus Centre for the Performing Arts in recognition of the reality we all need to fix. We need to bang a nail into the new homes of the homeless and pack a Kinder Kit – a backpack with educational material – for the impoverished Jewish and non-Jewish children in Jerusalem and Toronto.

On that night, we will express our gratitude to those who have courageously and with great vigour ensured the strength of the Jewish People and Israel through a commitment to tikkun olam, Ve’ahavta, and a journey back to the Garden of Eden. 

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