Dear SHA Community,
Between Lag BaOmer on Tuesday, Grandparents and Grandfriends Day this morning, and Teacher Appreciation Week, this week at Seattle Hebrew Academy was huge!
We celebrated Lag BaOmer earlier in the week at Aubrey Davis Park on Mercer Island together with other local Jewish Day Schools. This program was the first of its kind in Seattle and the day was incredible! Thank you to Mrs. Chaya Elishevitz, MMSC Head of School, for her leadership in creating this program and to the Samis Foundation for its support of the program.
Today, we held our annual Grandparents and Grandfriends Day. We are so pleased that we were able to meet in person this year! We began the day watching a video about the school and learning two short passages from the Torah dealing with the uniqueness of grandparents teaching Torah. Our guests then picked up their kids from their classrooms and continued with a morning of activities and learning. We finished the morning with our weekly Shabbat Assembly in the Ari Grashin Gym. Thank you to Benjamina Menashe, Susan DeJaen and the whole SHA Admin Team for arranging this program. What a special day!
Our teachers received a lot of love this week. Each day was a special snack, meal or drink - many made from scratch! Thank you to Mrs. Jamie Kahana and the PTO for organizing and executing this special week for our teachers!
Thank you to Ms. Lindsay Powers for orchestrating our amazing Book Fair!
Finally, I am very much looking forward chaperoning our eighth graders together with Mrs. Sara Weiss on our upcoming Israel Trip. We leave on Sunday and return just before Shavuot. We are mindful of the rocket attacks in the southern parts of Israel and we all pray for safety and security for our brothers and sisters. Our trip will take us to Yerushalayim and the north and we will be taking extra precautions to help ensure our own safety.
Mazal Tov to the Turgeman Family on the Bat Mitzvah of Miriam!
Pirkei Avot 3:13
Rabbi Akiva taught that tithes are a fence for wealth. In other words, giving obligatory charity is a protection for those who have money.
In what way does giving charity serve as a protection for those who have money?
Commentary by the nineteenth century commentator, Rabbi Yisroel Lipschitz (Yachin)
The acquisition of money tends to delude a person into thinking that he or she is the cause of his or her own success.
In fact, the world belongs to Hashem and those who have money should view themselves as a “hired hand” who is the beneficiary of Hashem’s goodness. By giving charity, a person who has money more easily remembers this principle.
This metaphor of a “hired hand” is difficult to understand. Why is a “hired hand” less likely to feel like the cause of his or her own success than a wealthy person?
It is human nature to ascribe one’s own financial success to himself or herself. However, repeated experience with the reality that a person cannot actually control his or her own fate tends to undermine this delusion. The “hired hand” understands that he or she regularly receives a salary from another person and is dependent on that person. The undoing of the wealthy person is that once a person has made his or her money, the person has no contact with this reality. The money is already in the bank! Nothing will inhibit the delusion that he or she is the cause of his or her own success. The obligation to give charity applies a brake to this delusion. Through this command, the person is reminded that the world belongs to Hashem and that He instructs us how to distribute our wealth. We are not the cause of our own success.
Connection to our parasha
This week’s parasha teaches about shemittah - the seventh “fallow” year. Every seven years, we are commanded to cancel all loans that we hold. Like the giving of required tithes, canceling loans reorients us to the reality that we do not control our own fate and that we are all dependent on Hashem. Asset redistribution during the shmittah year emphasizes this concept that the world belongs to Hashem. Through our own gifts of tzedakah and through our awareness and adherence to the laws of the shmittah year, may we remember that Hashem is the source of all blessing and that we are the beneficiaries of His goodness.
Rabbi Benjy Owen