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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Welcome to the Embassy of Heaven

Daf Yomi Nedarim 35

The shul board was afire with debate: nobody could doubt the level of participation at the programs and the number of people in shul each Shabbos.  The concern, however, was: who were these people?  There seemed to be so many non-members in the shul.  The conversation turned to the role of the shul and the rabbi.  Should the rabbi be visiting only members in the hospital?  Should the shul open its doors on High Holy days to non-members?  Should the rabbi be representing the Jewish community at communal and political events, or should he stick to servicing the membership?

When it comes to cohanim (Temple priests), are they agents of us (the people), or agents of Heaven?
What difference does it make?  With regards to one who vows abstinence from such cohanim: if you say they are agents of the people, they would be benefitting the abstainer with their service; but if you say they are agents of Heaven, they would be permitted to serve (since they are not working for the people, but for the Almighty). 

A senior colleague once shared a powerful lesson with me: he has always explained to his shul that while they indeed provide him with his monthly paycheck, he does not work for them.  He works for the Almighty.  When shul members pay his salary, they become partners with him in the service of Heaven.

Synagogues are not country clubs.  Shul events are not for an elite class of Jews.  Children’s programs should not be reserved for those kids whose parents made certain financial choices.  Our mission as a shul is to be an embassy for Heaven.  If you are a member of the shul, you are a partner in the important work of the Divine embassy.  At the embassy, we work together as agents of Heaven to make this world a better, more spiritual place.

Everything you do in this world, you do as agent of Heaven.  You are an ambassador of the Almighty.  You are answerable to Him alone.  But He has great expectations of you.  He expects you to be there for every one of His children, wherever they may be. 

Ambassadors must deal with people in the craziest of situations – they could get called at two o’clock on a Sunday morning about a stolen passport that they need to deal with.   Likewise, people get into spiritual messes that you must be prepared to take on without judging them or setting financial preconditions on your service.  They are citizens of Heaven – hopefully they’ll appreciate the importance of contributing towards the services – but even if they don’t, never hesitate to serve them!

It is an awesome honour and responsibility to be a Divine ambassador.  You have been chosen to administer the services of the Embassy to every one of G-d’s children.  May you merit satisfying every citizen of Heaven’s spiritual needs!