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Making Coffee -- Chronicle Online/The WORD 03/07/24

Weekly On-line Rabbi's D'var-Torah

March 7, 2024

27 Adar 5784

Shabbat Shekalim

Parashat Vayakhel

The story is told of a funeral that took place on a bitter cold day. People were lined up around the funeral home waiting to get in and offer some words of comfort to the family. Some were shaking with cold, while others were trembling with tears.  

Suddenly, a man appeared with cups of hot coffee, and he started passing them out to the people standing in the cold. Eventually, everyone in line had a hot cup in their hands. One of the funeral attendees saw the man walk back to the coffee shop across the street from the funeral home. After the funeral, that attendee made her way to the coffee shop and found the man behind the counter. He was the owner. So, she thanked him for the coffee and asked what motivated him to do it. He answered, “I felt so bad for them, and I wanted to do something, but all I could do was make coffee. So, I made coffee.” I think we can all identify with that coffee shop owner. We see pain and suffering around us, and we are not sure how to help. Of course, today marks five months since Hamas’s horrible attack on Israel. Over 130 hostages are still being held, IDF soldiers are in harm’s way, rockets are landing in Northern Israel, and the entire country is in pain.   Here in the US, incidents of antisemitism continue to rise, and college campuses are increasingly inhospitable to Jewish students. In Europe, physical attacks on Jews are all too common, and just today, Russia claims that it thwarted an attack on a Moscow synagogue by Islamic extremists. These are huge problems with no easy solutions. It would be easy to throw our hands up in despair. However, perhaps the answer is to “make coffee.” Instead of focusing on all the ways in which we cannot solve the world’s problems, we need to think about the things we CAN do to make our corner of the world a little better.   So, we can reach out to our friends and family in Israel and let them know that we are still speaking out about Israel. We can continue to try to educate people in our lives who may not have all the facts about the Israel-Hamas conflict. We can call the college students in our lives and make sure that they are doing okay. We can write emails to thank politicians and journalists who are speaking out against antisemitism and anti-Israel rhetoric.   A cup of coffee—or tea or hot cocoa—may not eliminate the problems that we face, but it can help us muster the strength to face them today, tomorrow, and the day after that. Make mine a double! 


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