Today, I am being shadowed by a 4th grade student from Sinai Akiba Academy, who will have the opportunity to be a “Rabbi for a day.” The questions I have been asked are both innocent and deep. One such conversation revolved around the upcoming holiday of Shavuot and the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. The Talmud teaches us that God gave the Jews the Torah at Mount Sinai. Why was it called Sinai? Because it was at that mountain, when the Jewish people were chosen, that the hatred (sinah) of the other nations of the Jews came into the world.”
Thankfully, Abraham taught us “in you all the families of the world shall be blessed.” Our hope is that we are an or lagoyim, a light unto the nations, not a people who rejects others, but rather a people who brings benefit and blesses others as well.
Tuesday evening, we heard from Yotam Polizer, Co-Chief Executive Director of IsraAID, an organization that provides humanitarian help in any country seeking relief from disaster. He told the story of IsraAID’s efforts in Greece, where 5,000 Syrian refugees were landing ashore each day. As one raft capsized, he scooped up a 3 year old Syrian girl and brought her to safety. Her father looked Yotam in the eyes, and said, “My worst enemy is now my greatest supporter.”
This is the message of Mount Sinai. Turning sinah, hatred, into a story of blessing.