Israeli Values Religious Voices

Letter 5 - Rabbi David Azoulay

To the State of Israel and all its inhabitants,

Judaism has always been a culture of combinations. There is no one clear truth. There is no one clear path. Judaism always knew how to change itself in order to accommodate those who walk its ways. 

This idea is not surprising, especially if we look carefully at the first commandment given to the People of Israel. 

 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.” (Exodus 12, 2). 

It seems simple, this commandment which lays out the foundations for becoming a People. It is difficult to make one’s way without law and order and without a calendar. However, these are not enough. This verse constitutes one of the most important values for me, as a Jew - Sanctification and Renewal.

Just a moment before the People of Israel went out of Egypt, God gave them these special capsules of time. Time which obligates us to hold and accept the combinations within it. The Israelites went on an emotional and physical journey, while holding the secret of time. 

The uniqueness of having different essences is a treasure of itself. The essence of the month and the essence of the year. 

The sanctifying essence is stable and bright (the sun). The world moves around it. And the renewing essence (the moon) reflects light. It moves around us in circles and serves as a tool that can be looked at, as a mirror, in order to look anew at every single day and examine the stable things in a People’s life. To look at the moon and ask whether things are taken for granted, to the extent of blind faith in them, without being illuminating.

From now on, use the value of Sanctification and Renewal as a commandment. One which is supposed to provide each journey the ability to examine whether the path they are on is illuminating and reflective. This is the first commandment. This is the beginning of everything. 

In a few months, the State of Israel will be celebrating its 75th birthday. In honor of this occasion, we should ask ourselves if we are preserving the secret of our ancient time, our first steps in the world as a People. Do we have a stable hold on the big light, which is called the State of Israel, by allowing ourselves to examine the ongoing movement around us, calling for Sanctification and Renewal?


Rabbi David Azoulay

Rabbi David Azoulay, is an Israeli Jew from a Moroccan Yemenite descent. He grew up in an Orthodox household. 

David serves as a young Rabbi at “Yozma”, the Reform congregation in Modi’in, where he is also the community’s school Rabbi.

He is passionate about bringing the Sephardic-Mizrahi music traditions into the Reform movement’s synagogues, and has recorded an album featuring a complete Friday night service, based on the new Israeli Reform prayer book.

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