Shalom from Rabbi Mark Melamut
The 17th Century French author, Rochefoucauld, said, “The only constant in life is change.” We are always changing, entering new moments in time and cycles in our lives. Recently, our community has also experienced a change, entered a new moment, and cycle in its life. It is with great honor and gratitude that we say thank you to our new immediate past President, Sharon Bleviss, for her six years of service, dedication and loving care of our community.
And, it is with honor and gratitude that we welcome our new President, Pete Gleichenhaus, as he assumes this new responsibility in our community. We are in very good hands. Even in good hands, the stability, maintenance, and growth of B’nai Emunah remains a team effort with a role for each of us.
Talmud teaches us,”a person can only learn well that part of Torah which is their heart’s desire.” (A.Z. 19a) From this we learn about the process of learning and about teamwork.
It is up to us to discern what our area of interest is, and to focus our efforts and actions here. That which we are passionate about, we will learn, act upon, and contribute to the community. As a team, we are then free not to worry too much about that which is beyond us, and to rest assured that our teammates will learn, act upon, and contribute to the community in an area which inspires them. Pirkei Avot both assures and reminds us as well, “It is not up to you to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” (2:21)
In terms of the seasons and the Jewish calendar we also experience a change, as we shift towards the summertime (and the accompanying fog of the SF Sunset), and a period of relative quiet in the Jewish year cycle. Other than the minor fast of the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B’Av, we await the month of Elul, which ushers in the 5773 High Holiday season. This Elul will be special, as we continue the collaborative project begun on Sukkot with several synagogues in our neighborhood, and enjoy a special Elul series to prepare for the New Year 5773.
If change really is the only constant in life, how can Jewish life anchor us? Another Talmud text teaches us, “A person should always be soft like a reed and not hard like a cedar.” (Ta’anit 20a) That is, our flexibility, as well as our being able to bend and adapt, will help us to better keep up with change without uprooting us.
As we go from leadership to leadership, and from now to the summer months, may our community and all of its households go safely and mindfully from strength to strength.
Kol Tuv/All the best,
Rabbi Mark Melamut