Dvar of the Week: Rabbi Gila Caine, Temple Beth Ora, Edmonton

(AJNews) – Each week, one of the Spiritual leaders from congregations in the Calgary and Edmonton Jewish communities will be elevating the Alberta Jewish Schmooze with a Dvar Torah. This week the Dvar is by Rabbi Gila Caine, from Edmonton’s Reform Congregation, Temple Beth Ora. 

Rabbi Gila Caine

This week’s Torah portion delves back into the fabulously larger -than-life story of Yizchak, Rivkah and their sons Ya’akov and Eisav (in Eng. Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau). This is a story of love and hate, of envy and loss, of secrets and of many half-truths. I strongly recommend we go read it and think back at ways we cover truth in our own home, with our own family and friends, and then ask ourselves – why? Is this because I care about them or care about myself? Perhaps the distinction isn’t so clear.   

Our liturgy has a wonderful tradition of complimenting each Torah portion with a reading from the Prophets. This shorter reading is called the “Haftarah” and the pairing is always a commentary on what we had just read in Torah. And so, in this week’s Haftarah from the prophet Malachi, we are treated to a “punchline” ending that asks us to contemplate the essence and importance of truth.

After a Parasha of lies, half-truths and evasions, we arrive at the prophet telling us: “A teaching of truth was in his mouth, and no wrong was found on his lips; In peace and in uprightness he walked with Me, and many did he bring back from crime.” (Malachi 2:6). “A teaching of truth was in his mouth”? The medieval commentator Radak offers that this means the words/thoughts/feelings of our heart and mind should be aligned with whatever leaves our lips. Don’t fawn, don’t pretend, don’t say one thing to hide your real self. This is hard and it is sometimes easier to stay silent, perhaps we could all use more silent time.  

Our Haftarah and Torah portion are in ongoing discussion spanning geography and time, both in a joint effort to teach us the merit of complex thinking. If there is only one thing you take from this week’s reading (and there is so much more to glean from it), it is that there are no simple answers in life and very few easy decisions, especially when it comes to those closest to us. Truth might not always be the right answer, but we are asked that the outcome of our words be peace and uprightness.  

Shabbat shalom,  

Rabbi Gila Caine.  

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