Sukkoth 5781 Message Peggy Pardo
Today I decided to address our community in the same way that Deborah did in the book of Shoftim, in the day of the judges when she stood in the gap until a strong male leader was willing and ready to accept his role and his calling.
You know, all my life I’ve searched for the truth. I am 73 years old. Old enough for some of you to be your mother and yet young enough to be your colleague. Now after seeing what happened to Rabbi Percy, my whole perspective of our length of days had changed. I know that our God called him home for His reasons. Who are we to question? It was simply his time.
I have given my life to this work since 1989 before Percy, Rhonda and the boys moved to Montreal. I’ve changed my career many times always trying to give myself fully to whatever I believed in and wanted others to know. Let’s not be afraid of change. Let’s be afraid of being too comfortable. Life is a journey and the decisions that we make today will affect us for the rest of our lives. I have had to make many, many major decisions in my life, but always lived by my convictions even when I found out later that I was breaking the commandments. I didn’t see it that way at the time but there were always boundaries that I lived within – sadly some boundaries I allowed to be imposed upon me by others. The Creator gave us specific and clear boundaries that protect us from ourselves and from those who are waiting to take advantage of us. That’s why I tell young parents “invest time and energy into setting healthy boundaries for your children”. They are entering a world where they need to be equipped to make the right choices as we also do. I am so glad that I serve the God of Beginning Again, as Rabbi Percy calls Him. As I grow and change, by doing teshuva, turning to Him, acknowledging what I have done, and making restitution, something not only physical happens but at the spiritual level curses from the past are broken. My life is now on an upward spiral, not the downward one that I was on in my 30s.
I can attest by the results in my own life and after 60 years of searching, this way of living the Torah is truth. The Light of the Torah shines brightly in us so let’s not be afraid of what is happening in the world but let’s stand together with what we have learned and will continue to learn from our rabbi. Do you think that just because he’s gone, we stop learning from him? He said to me that he has nothing left to teach if we are not living it, then what is the use of learning it. People are still learning from Rabbi Maimonides, Rabbi Nachman of Breslau, and we are learning from Moshe, Rabbi Yeshua and Rabbi Percy.
We are under God’s covering, His Kaparah, His Sukkah, as long as we are obedient. It doesn’t mean that we’ll be spared from death or suffering, it only means that He is walking through this life with us. When we stood at the base of Mt Sinai we said; first in Ex. 19;8 ‘all that the LORD HAS SPOKEN, WE WILL DO.’ This was before Moshe ascended the mount. It is repeated again in Ex 24;2 ‘Kohl ha debarim asher daber YHVH na-aseh. All the words which Adonai has said we will do.’ Then in Ex 24;7 ‘he took the Book of the covenant – ha Sefer ha dibrit – and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ‘all that the LORD has said, we will do and obey – na-Aseh v’nishmah’.
The mandate of this community is to do what is written here. This is what allows us to be or l’goyim – light to the nations as we read in Isaiah 42. We do not have to invent a new constitution. Rabbi Yeshua called his people to return to what Moshe wanted us to do. He brought us back to the simple Ten Commandments the simple message at Mt Sinai. This was Rabbi Percy’s message to us in spite of what every religion is telling us, including Messianic Judaism. He said it over and over in his last years with us. Let us not mourn his passing, although it leaves a great void in our lives but let us rejoice in his calling. He called Sukkoth the “Festival of the End and the Beginning Again.” It is a time of Simchateinu – Rejoicing. Will we as a community say, we will do, and we will obey? We just heard the commandments read aloud as if we ourselves both Jew and Gentile, were standing together at the base of Mt Sinai. What more do we need? Do we need to spend our time searching for the hidden things which God has not revealed to us? I know they are attractive; I spent years searching the mystical. Or will we spend time using the simple formulas which our rabbi gleaned from the Scriptures?
Let me compare his formula to the High Holidays. When we walk in a “relationship” with the God of Israel and not the gods of our making…we begin by acknowledging what we do and who we are. That’s the hardest part. That’s when we blow our own shofar. That’s our personal wake-up call; our Yom Teruah. Next, we move from emunah – faith which is God’s gift to us so that no one can boast as Rav Saul said. Then, we move to bitachon – trust. Every time we take a step of faith to act upon what we have just acknowledged, something amazing happens. It called a Paradigm Shift. It is life changing, not only on a physical level but a spiritual one as I said before, where family curses are broken unto the thousandth generation. This fortifies our bechirah chofshit – our free will, which is another gift of our Creator. It helps us to make better decisions with responsibility because the Torah gives us wisdom. We are able to humble ourselves and listen to others around us who care about us. And finally, we can rest in the knowledge that although people around us may judge us by the sight of their eyes, only our Bore Olam knows our Kavanah, the intention of our hearts. That’s our Yom Kippur. Now as we enter our Sukkoth, we rejoice knowing that it is never too late to turn our lives around and over to the Creator and live His way, not ours.
Our walk is simple, but it is far from easy. There is a lot of pain in growth. They are called growing pains. How easy is it when someone hurts us, to go to that person and tell them what they did, how it made us feel and then for both to be humble enough to admit the truth about what happened and be willing to forgive one another?
Right now, the world is shaking its fist at the Creator in every way once again. We’ve seen this before in history. It’s not new. Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the Pharaoh in Egypt and countless other stories in our Bible. So now as we turn a new page in our community, I see our situation as if our rabbi is far away somewhere (maybe on a beautiful beach) with no phone and no internet. He can’t contact us, but he is happy in the knowledge that he left us with the tools to continue growing. We have a lot of work to do after the holidays are over. I have been here from the beginning and I will be here to the end. Who will walk with me on this next stage of our journey at She’ar Yashuv and be the Remnant that returns to the mighty God of Israel…Joshua an Israelite and Caleb a Kenezite, a Gentile, both with a heart for the Bore Olam, b’yachad together? Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sukkoth Sameach.