Now is the time for the Jewish community to act.
This week’s Torah portion, Tsav, deals with the ritual of “Korbanot”, the intricacies of animal sacrifices. It would seem that this practice is no longer relevant in today’s world, but the root of the word ‘Korban’ is ‘Karov’, which means closeness. The act of sacrifice is in fact an opportunity for each of us to re-ignite our closeness with G-d.
In Genesis, the Torah tells us that man has mastery over the animal kingdom. Through the act of sacrifice we give up our mastery of the world and realize that we are not in control; G-d is our creator. The sacrifice is actually a platform on which we relinquish our control and re-affirm our closeness with G-d.
Our closeness to G-d compels us to reflect on the purpose of why G-d has placed us here in his world. It encourages us to think about the resources G-d has blessed us with and motivates us to share it with others.
This brings us to the special challenge we face today in confronting the coronavirus, the modern day plague. We have a choice: we can be paralyzed by anxiety and fear. We can brood over the losses in our economy and how it affects us personally. It is easy to forget G-d during this difficult time.
The other choice is to learn the lesson of the “Korban”: It is through the act of giving to others in deepest humility that we truly understand that we are not in control. By giving from our heart we are re-connecting with G-d.
Today our Jewish community is facing great challenges: many of our elderly require food deliveries and additional care giving. We need personal protective equipment for these care givers. Many who are out of work will require emergency financial assistances. Our people with disabilities are isolated at home and need personal support services. Parents can no longer pay tuition at our schools. Our Jewish Federation has launched an emergency campaign to respond to these needs. Now is the time to act by giving to this campaign.
Bari Weiss, in her article “The Corona Virus Preys on Jews’ Biggest Strength”, writes: “If Jewish history has a theme, it is resilience — the ability to renew and revive community during our darkest hours. Now, as ever, the people poised to show us the way forward are those who have been most connected all along.”
It is time now for each of us to act, as we have always done in the past. It is our collective action which defines our great Jewish community of Detroit.