Thursday, 1 September 2011

Guard your Gates


It’s the month of Ellul, already.

Rosh Hashanah is less than a month away (tickets for non-members can be ordered from the Synagogue web site). My mind is turning to the work of the season.


One remarkable feature of the long list of sins we recite on Yom Kippur is quite how many refer to things that we say. Lashon HaRa – evil language is both so easy and so pernicious, but that is only one of many sins listed in the Al Cheit prayer. We admit sins of scoffing, denying, lying, inappropriate conversation and on the list goes. There are other sins committed with and by the mouth – sins of eating and drinking.

Then there the sins of sight; the wanton glance, the haughty eye.


I was reminded of a wonderful Chasidic commentary on the opening line of this week’s Torah portion - Shoftim. ‘Judges and Officers you shall place on all your gates.’ The verse refers, clearly to the city, but Hasidic commentary presages Freud by reading every verse as being about the invidual. The ‘gates’ of the Biblical verse become the gates to our body – and, we are taught, there are seven; two eyes, two ears, nostrils and a mouth.


We are urged to police what goes in and what goes out of the gates to our selves. It’s tremendous advice.


Shabbat shalom,


Rabbi Jeremy

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