Mazal tov to Mosaic Reform members Margaret & Michael Abrahams on their Golden Wedding Anniversary. Their children, Joel & Carolyn and Naomi & Barry, together with their grandchildren are delighted to invite congregants to join them for Kiddush at Bessborough Road to celebrate this special occasion.
I have recently started reaching out to old friends on Facebook. I try to write to one person per week that I miss from High School, college, camp. I know there are “status updates” that they see, but it is just not the same as a personal letter. I regret that many of my relationships have fallen victim to our geographical divide (Israel-US). But I am reminded that the Torah teaches us about ways to build and maintain relationships with our loved ones.
In Parshat Tzav, the Torah gives us a directive for keeping alive the flame of the alter: “Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continually; it shall not go out.” (Lev 6:6). The first mitzvah is in the affirmative: to keep the flame continuously lit. This is a command that stands on its own; whether or not there is a sacrifice to be offered, the fire must remain lit. The second mitzvah is in given in the negative. It isolates the final clause of the verse, “[the flame] shall not go out” (Lev. 6:6).
The alter was very important to the Israelites. It was the only place for people to tangibly relate to God — to express their gratitude to Go and to bring sacrifices to expiate their sins. The ever-burning fire is a symbol of the fact that God never stops listening. And that the Jewish people are dedicated to remaining in conversation with God through our study and practice of mitzvot.
In order to build deep and lasting relationships, we must both make sure to make ourselves available for the other, and make efforts to be in touch with them. I’m really happy now when I write to an old friend — to catch up, and to let them know that I think and care about them. It takes a bit of work to keep the fire lit, but I am determined to not let the flame go out.
Rabbi Paul Arberman