FROM THE RABBI’S DESK: VAYERA
Only once is Abraham referred to as the Hebrew when he chases those who had captured Lot, his nephew. The word, Hebrew, is not in its original context, the name of a language, but a concept indicating that Abraham stands on the other side of the river, the Euphrates, with his ethics and morals entrenched in a monotheistic framework. He does not seek popularity, but truth and justice as this week’s parsha describes. He goes against the grain, so to speak, and is willing to stand alone promoting his values and his views to a disinterested and indifferent world.
But sometimes the action of an individual can change that indifference into something positive. Abraham perseveres, and three faiths trace their origins to him. On the other hand, the actions of a deranged or evil individual can also affect his surroundings. The recent acts of vandalism committed against three Jewish places of prayer in Ottawa, acts laden with anti-Semitic epithets and swastikas, unite a shocked community to rally around the causes of justice and righteousness as espoused by Abraham.
Decent people from all walks of life, from different faith communities feel revulsion when they see the acts of vandalism that deface houses of worship, no matter the religion. Some attribute the recent rise in anti-Semitic acts in Ottawa to the Trump victory in the United States. While obviously these crimes were committed in the days following the American election, we cannot forget that similar acts such as on our own shul years ago are not that rare. Latent anti-Semitism morphs into blatant anti-Semitism. We have to be vigilant and not overlook any event that promotes hatred and terror.