I was thinking today about the reason(s) the Chief Rabbi of South Africa chose Parshas Noach as the week that Jews consider uniting in keeping Shabbos together. It’s a great concept and I together with many are fully behind it.
No doubt there is a “real reason” and someone from South Africa may be able to advise me. I heard a Rav today suggest that immediately after Bereishis, its is logical to go into action. We’ve just finished The Yomim Noroim, God has created the world, society made errors, and this is a logical Shabbos to commence Shabbos observance.
My mind, however, wandered to Noah’s ark itself. I felt the words, “Go out of the ark” the command to Noach to rebuild a humane society. This was a time of post-destruction, a time of building, a new beginning, and what better way than to observe the idea that we don’t work 7 days a week. We devote one day to the spiritual, to the level above the rat race of the week, and try to share that with others.
To be sure, there are some who have never left the ark nor do they want to. Hungarian ultra orthodox types no doubt are still in the ark. They don’t interact with the Jewish world unless they can make a buck. Accordingly, I wouldn’t have expected much emanating from the likes of some Haredi places. I heard the tired refrain that they didn’t want someone to drive to their house for a meal, but I’d like to suggest that almost all of them who work for a living and interact with such people know some within walking distance whom they could invite. But, they have the problem of not wanting their kids to see “sinful” people, so I imagine (correct me if I’m wrong) they couldn’t take part meaningfully in this exercise (except come and see what this Havdala ceremony was all about at the Park, although they usually keep Rabeinu Tam’s Tzeis Shabbos time. South Africa is void of Hungarian extremists and is Litvak/Chabad focussed so there is no problem of interaction potentially. That’s why they have comparative unity and almost no reform or conservative or conservadox (Shira Chadasha) movements, unlike Melbourne, where I hold Orthodoxy responsible for the existence of these aberrations.
Then there are the Shules who in my opinion should re-examine carefully their outreach or general Rabbis and boards if they didn’t take part. I know of one Shule that did zero out of the ordinary. They had their usual kiddies pre-shabbos function, which is nothing out of the ordinary. The Rabbi didn’t even mention the concept in his drosha, not that there was a single person new in attendance at the Shule. There was a “lunch/cholent” in a back room which actually had less people than the usual paltry few (I guess there were better functions at other Shules). What they might have done is find every Jewish person in the area (and there are plenty) and invite them to a free shabbos lunch (even in a marquee at the park if there were many), find a dynamic speaker or three, sing songs, use some ingenuity etc. You don’t have to be Einstein. But, if you are a comparatively disconnected internet Rabbi, many would argue that your days are numbered. Perhaps, get another job and get off the gravy train.
Kudos to the organisers, but next year the men might become more involved as they don’t generally bake challah 🙂
I regret that personally we didn’t invite a few of our neighbours, but my mind has been somewhat not where it should be.
Next year, God willing, hopefully in Yerusholayim Ir HaKodesh.