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Rabbi Joe's Weekly Message

Week of July 27

Beyond imagining

Rabbi Joseph Hample

This week is my mother's sixteenth yortzait (memorial). She didn't live to see Facebook or Twitter, or her son apply to rabbinical school. On the other hand, she also didn't live to see 9/11. You never know what's in the promised land till you arrive there.

This week we begin Deuteronomy, the preview of the promised land. In October, just as we come to the brink of the promised land, we will finish Deuteronomy and turn back to Genesis, reliving the creation of the world again. We never do complete the journey within the Torah. The destination is always one step over the horizon.

What would we find in the promised land, if we actually entered it? Equal justice for our own people and strangers (Deuteronomy 1:16)? Avoidance of conflict (Deuteronomy 2:4-5, 9, 19)? Or a bloody settling of scores with other nations (Deuteronomy 2:34, 3:6)? The promised land we expect may not be the one we get. But it is still our duty to imagine the promised land as it ought to be.

By definition, the promised land is for the next generation (Deuteronomy 1:39). We dream of their future, as we have to: yet we cannot begin to anticipate their trials and triumphs. The kids will likely see a world beyond our fantasies, a day when even the Internet seems old-fashioned. What we owe progeny is our blessing. As "the Eternal, your God, has blessed you in all your undertakings" (Deuteronomy 2:7), so you and I must visualize the best for those who will follow us. Mom didn't dance at my ordination: but with the force of her (and Dad's) will, I grew to adulthood, graduated from college, made my own living. She conjured me the power to reach my own promised land, without knowing what it would be. That is the gift we are meant to give our posterity. "May the Eternal, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as promised" (Deuteronomy 1:11).

Yizkor Book Announcement

The Yizkor Book for 2014 - 5775 will be coming out at the High Holidays. There are dedicatory pages. The donation schedule is: Front Inside cover--$200; Back inside cover--$160; Full page--$135; Half page--$85; Quarter Page--$60. Because of spacing concerns, we may need to limit the number of names per dedicatory page.

For the regular dedicatory list of family and friends, the cost per name for TOL members is $12; the cost per name for non-members is $20.

The names of those who passed away during the previous year, and those on our memorial boards, are automatically listed without charge. However, annual listings must be renewed; those names do not roll over.

Send all submissions and donations to:

Sylvia L. Cooper
102 Forest Drive
Morgantown, WV 26505

Make all checks payable to Tree of Life.

The absolute deadline for inclusion in the Yizkor Book is Septemberber 3. Names received after that deadline will be listed on an insert.

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