This was the drash at Sinai Temple at the Men's Club Shabbat on April 15, 2017, on Ezekiel 37:1-14:
The haftarah this morning is one of the most well-known passages in all of our sacred literature: Ezekiel’s valley of the dry bones.
Ezekiel recounts a vision in which the Lord put him in a valley full of dry bones, and tells him to “say to these bones … [that God] will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live again.” Ezekiel did that, and the bones reconstituted themselves and came to life, representing the House of Israel restored, with the Lord promising to bring them back to the land of Israel.
Ezekiel’s prophecy echoes throughout the history of the Jewish people. It was written in the sixth century BCE, during the Babylonian Exile, after the destruction of the First Temple. The Jews eventually returned to Jerusalem, and rebuilt the Temple -- which 500 years later the Romans destroyed – and in the twentieth century, the Jews reconstituted Israel yet again. Today God’s words -- the final verse of today’s haftarah -- are engraved on the columns outside the Yad Vashem Museum: “I will put My breath into you, and you shall live again, and I will set you upon your own land.”
Ezekiel also echoes in the Amidah, the prayer in which we praise God for sustaining the living, through kindness and love, and for giving life to the dead. There is a connection, I think, between those two concepts: We know that our acts of kindness and love live on after us; that they not only sustain others but redeem ourselves; and in that way allows us to live beyond our own mortality.
Which brings me to the Burning Bush dinner held earlier this month by the Men’s Club – whose motto is “Where Jewish Values Come to Life.” Under the leadership of our extraordinary president, Mark Haloossim, it was the most successful dinner in the Club’s 50-year history, with fire trucks donated by Mrs. Orden and Mrs. Nasche to save lives in Israel, and the proceeds of the dinner devoted to fund a new Millennial Project championed by our honorees, Tom and Judy Flesh. It is a program that seeks to pass on to the younger generation the gifts we received from the generations that preceded us, and thus make them immortal.
It is the effort by the Men’s Club to do our part, to do what we can, to further the spirit of Ezekiel, whose words we will now all read together.
-- Rick Richman