D’Var Torah: October 28, 2016

In this week’s Torah portion, Parshat B’reishit, G-d says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” The rabbis ask, “Why is this in the plural?” Rashi teaches us that G-d is speaking in the plural because G-d consulted the angels, asking them whether humanity should be created. According to Rashi, this is to show us the value of humility – that the greater should ask permission from, or consult with, the lesser. I would argue that it also shows us the importance of working in partnership with others.

Our country was founded on this idea of cooperation – “We the People.” John F. Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” We share this value in Jewish life as well. Prayer requires a minyan. Synagogue life focuses on the “we,” on the community not only in worship, but also in social action. We work together to make the world a better place than how we found it. But I would propose that we don’t do this only for the good of the Temple, but for our own good as well. When we invest our time, our energy, or our talent in something, we own it. We help decide what it will become.

From the very beginning when G-d endeavored to create humanity, G-d sought a partner in the angels. Indeed our tradition goes further to teach us that G-d created humanity to have a collaborator in the completion of the work of creation. As we now approach Cheshvan, the month in the Jewish calendar where there are no holidays, we move from the inward focus of the High Holy Days to look beyond to our greater community and the connections that we make here to create it. And so I invite you to reach in – to work with us to continue to make this Temple great, reach out – to your friends and neighbors to show them what a wonderful community we have here – a holy, joyfully Jewish place where we work with G-d to make the world better than how we found it.

Shabbat shalom,

Cantor Sally Neff