In today’s daf (Shekalim 18b), and basing itself on the seemingly superfluous word קרבן in the verse ‘if a person offers a mincha offering (קרבן)’ (Vayikra 2:1), the Gemara learns that in addition to bringing an animal as an offering, it was also permitted to bring wood to be used on the Altar as an offering in the Beit HaMikdash. With this in mind, I would like to reflect on the contribution of all those who bring what I believe is the wood/fuel to Jewish communities around the world, and to do so, I would like to make brief reference to the ceremony held in my community last night – like many others in Israel and across the world – in commemoration of Yom HaShoah VeHaGevurah.
In terms of the ceremony, it was led by the youth of the community who shared moving words of poetry and excerpts from diary entries of those who perished in the Shoah. I lit six candles in honour of the six million Jews who were murdered. Prayers were recited by a number of adults. And the entire event was accompanied by a stirring audio-visual presentation*.
However, this event – like all events – would not have happened without a number of people who, though they did not appear on the stage, were the wood that fuelled the ceremony. For example, there were those who prepped the young people and worked with them on what they would say. Then there were others who produced the audio-visual presentation. There were those who made sure that the venue was suitably prepared. And there were others who provided light and sound support.
In a world which promotes fame and shines a bright light on those on the stage, we often forget that those people are rarely the true engine behind what is seen. Instead, behind the scenes there are many many people without whom most endeavours would not be imagine, let alone realized.
Given this, just as today’s daf acknowledges the wood as an offering, I think it is essential that we acknowledge all those women and men who are the wood, the fuel, the engine and the primary driving force for so much of the good that occurs in Jewish communities around the world.
* Among the various components of the audio-visual presentation was a song by Tzachi Klein titled ‘Cry out Loud’ whose lyrics are inspired by a speech delivered by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau – himself a child of the holocaust. The song can be viewed at https://youtu.be/V0H8lzRMZFE