When the Torah says something once it’s important, but, when it says it twice it’s essential. In this week’s portion Re’eh, Moses states, “if there be a destitute person among you, any of your brethren in any of your cities, in your land that God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or close your hand against your destitute brother.” Continuing a few verses later, “Patach, Tiftach” “Open, you shall surely open, your hand to your brother.” The doubling of the Hebrew root for openness -Peh-Tav-Chet – adds a special emphasis for how important this particular action is. To which Rashi comments, “ad kamah pa’amim,” basically “as many times as it takes.”
On July 22nd a fire ripped through several houses in the Black Rock neighborhood of Buffalo displacing six families that had recently been resettled by Jewish Family Services. These refugees from all over the world – Congo, Colombia, Burma – had come with nothing. As part of its duty as a resettlement agency, JFS had provided them with furniture, food, and everything necessary to feel at home in their new homes. And, then in a blink of an eye all that hard work was gone. But, as the Torah states, we must “Patach, Tiftach,” and so, JFS went back to the drawing board and found new apartments and new furnishings for all of these refugees.
Now they are asking Shir Shalom’s help. While the new apartments are adequate, the yard outside is filled with glass and weeds, not the sort of place hospitable to the toddlers and young children. We would like to arrange a time soon to clean it up. In the meantime, those of you good at yard work or just filled with a desire to help these people out, please be in touch so I can put you on a list of potentials help. The families could use other things as well, toys, food, etc., so if you have donations bring them by my office in the next week or two. I’ll leave you with a picture of one of the families including a joyful five-year-old and one-year-old. Let us all “Patach, Tiftach” our hands to them.
PS: Don’t forget that we are extending Shabbat under the tent for one more week with a 6 pm service.