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Machshavot | Parashat Ki Tavo

August 31, 2018 Andrew Shaw
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Fifty years ago today, a momentous event happened.

It is still talked about as a remarkable achievement.

It was Sir Garfield Sobers hitting six sixes of an over in a county cricket match in Wales. It was the first time in cricket history that this had happened and over the ensuing 50 years had only been achieved six times in first class cricket.

It is similar to the 147 in snooker.

It is seen as perfection – it cannot be bettered.

However, why do we like it so much? Why are we excited when we think something like this can occur? Firstly because it is so unlikely and therefore to see it is very special. However, I also think there is a sense of admiration for the sportsperson who has achieved the almost unique feat.

The 31st August has another more somber anniversary – 21 years ago today, Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a tragic car accident.

I remember the day so vividly and the outpouring of national grief that followed. She was the people’s princess, loved and admired by so many. The sadness and grief was also due to the fact that someone who was doing so much for so many was now no more. People believed she would achieve so much more in her humanitarian efforts across the globe but at 36, she could no longer achieve.

The link between Sobers and Diana, the human drive for perfection, for achievement. One achieved it in a sporting achievement, the other was cut short in her global mission to bring hope and care to those who desperately needed it.

On Motzei Shabbat we will begin Selichot, Mizrachi UK are joining with Bnei Akiva and YAM at Alei Tzion for a very spiritual Kumzitz at 10:30pm featuring four of the Mizrachi Shlichim, followed by First Night Selichot at 11:30pm.

Selichot and the whole Teshuva process, are our mechanism for growth and the means to attempt to perfect ourselves and the world around us.

And then in complete contrast to this striving for perfection, we have had to deal this week with the correct intervention of Rabbi Sacks into the disgraceful recent video of Jeremy Corbyn and his vile anti-Semitic slur. Rabbi Sacks said that Corbyn’s words were “the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech.”

Ironically, Powell made his speech in the same year as Sobers feat. One person demonstrating the best of human endeavor in a sporting arena and one demonstrating the worst of human behavior in a political arena.

Fifty years on as we converge on our shuls for Selichot and Teshuva we are reminded that there are two types of Teshuva – Teshuva m’yirah – through fear and Teshuva m’ahavah – through love.

We are taught that Teshuva through fear is due to a sense of mortality. Whereas Teshuva M’ahavah is due to a sense of gratitude and appreciation to Hashem. We are also taught that ideally, we should strive for Teshuva M’ahavah – connect through love, not through fear.

On Motzei Shabbat immediately before the climax of Sh’ma Koleinu, we will sing the glorious song which contains that message of joy and final redemption, not just for us but for all peoples.

In a week scarred by speeches and ideals of ‘aliens’ and ‘the other’ we can turn to our tradition our teshuva and our joy in a life cleaving to Hashem and His Torah.

‘V’haviotim el har kodshi, v’simachtim b’veit t’filati…ki veiti beit t’filah y’karei l’chol ha’amim.’

‘I will bring them to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer… for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.’

Amen!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Andrew Shaw

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