Monday, May 21, 2012

"Our mission"

Address to International Shluchim Conference, Lay Leadership Conference, NY 2011

Friday, May 18, 2012

There's isn't enough space (or is there?)

This week was a cracker for our community. After much hype and anticipation, the 5th Dimension course kicked off with a blast on Wednesday evening. Over 250 people arrived and the atmosphere was electric! (You can still join us for the next three Wednesdays- it's a great course!)
Thank G-d, we now have the space to comfortably accommodate large crowds, but I hadn't banked on the long snaking lines on either stairwell as people waited to register and pay on their way in (tip: register and pay online). 
By a stroke of Divine Providence, the 5th Dimension course launched on the 5th night of the 5th week of the Omer (I hadn't realised that till the night of the event). It also fell in the week when we study the 5th chapter of Pirkei Avos (the Ethics of the Fathers).
Chapter five lists various significant numbers in Judaism (not the number 5, mind you...) and lists some interesting facts about Jewish life, like the ten constant miracles that happened in the Beis Hamikdash.
One of those miracles was something we needed at Wednesday night's registration: Space-expansion. When people stood in the Temple, they were crammed together like Chassidim in 770. Yet, when it was time to bow on Yom Kippur, everyone had enough space to prostrate himself. Somehow, the area expanded on demand.
This miracle reminds me of the story of the Chossid who came to the third Lubavitcher Rebbe to complain that he felt the other chassidim would step all over him when he walked into Shul. The Rebbe responded that if he would stop trying to fill the whole Shul, nobody would step on him.
When the people stood up straight in the Temple, when they held themselves with importance, they could barely all squeeze together. When they flexed their spines, bent over and became humble, there was plenty of room for all.
Yesterday, we had to take one of our children to Home Affairs to apply for a passport. We've typically used the Home Affairs office in Edenvale, where you share your frustrations over bureaucratic inefficiency with other northern-suburbs grumblers as you wait on line. It is never pleasant. This time, we went to the Wynberg office, where most of those waiting were blue-collar, lower income people. Not a complaint. Everyone was friendly and patient. People who live humbly seem to live less stressed.
Ironically, the key to feeling better about ourselves and our circumstances is to feel ourselves less.