November 2019 Newsletter

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Rabbi’s Message

Rabbi John Franken

Dear Friends:

A sage once declared that every person should say 100 blessings a day. 100 blessings? To

many of us that would seem beyond reach when identifying, much less blessing, our

good fortune comes neither easily nor naturally. For this reason, perhaps, the Rabbis

filled our prayer book liturgy with blessings, or praises to God, for the gifts we

otherwise might take for granted.

In the morning service alone, we praise God for the wonder of creation, for the gift of

love through Torah, for the marvel of the human body, for the purity of our souls, for

making us in God’s image, for making us Jews, for making us free, for enlightening the

unenlightened, for giving strength to the weary, for freeing the captive, for being the

Source of Peace.

These blessings are blessings ben adam laMakom – between humans and the Holy

One. Yet there are also blessings we say ben adam lachavero – between one person and

another. In our daily lives, “Good morning” or “Have a good day” are blessings in the

same way “Shalom” or “Shalom Aleichem” (“Peace be upon you”) are. They are words of

kindness and goodness whose utterance brings out our love of God and humanity. In

my travels I have encountered foreigners who make fun of Americans for routinely

saying “Have a nice day.” Evidently they cannot imagine strangers really caring whether

others have a nice day or not. But blessing someone else with a pleasant day brings a

certain goodness and goodwill into the world that touches all of us—the speaker as

well as the recipient.

In our tradition, besides routine blessings, there are also extraordinary ones. After

being welcomed to a new place (“Baruch haba”), for example, one customarily replies

“Baruch hanimtza.” Colloquially, the reply means something like “right back at you” but it

can also mean “I am blessed to be here.” Such is how I feel about coming to Adas

Shalom to be your new rabbi. It is a joy, a privilege and an honor, but mostly it is a

blessing. I look forward to sharing our lives together and hope very much you will

come by to introduce yourself. So let me say, after receiving such a warm welcome since

my arrival a few weeks ago, “Baruch hanimtza.” It is a blessing to be among you.

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