Installation of Rabbi Khayim Cassorla – Shabbat Noakh 5763

The book of Kohelet – Ecclesiastes, is known as the "wisdom of Solomon" – the great and wise king of the united kingdom of Israel of about three thousand years ago. Solomon – Shlomo was a great student of human nature, and he said, "There is a man alone, without a companion; he neither has son nor brother; yet there is no end of all his labor; nor is his eye satisfied with riches. He may say, For whom do I labor, and bereave my soul of good? This also is vanity, indeed it is a bad business. Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falls; for he has not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; a threefold cord is not quickly broken." [Ec. 4:8-12]
Numbers are very important in Judaism. The Holy One is singular and unique. Our relation to Him is an "I – Thou" (or one-to-one) relationship, giving us the strength that comes from being two, as our text so wisely recommends. And yet Shlomo goes on to say that the threefold cord is not quickly broken – and the Oral teaching, the Mishnah, makes the case ironclad as it teaches:
How did we get the Torah? "Moshe received the Torah at Sinai and transmitted it to Joshua, Joshua to the elders..." [Mishnah Avot 1:1] A "triple play." What did the elders teach? "They used to say three things: be patient in [administering justice, rear many disciples and make a fence around the Torah." [ibid. ] Again three. A little further in the text we read, "Shimeon the righteous... used to say: the world is established upon three things: Torah, divine service, and the practice of deeds of loving-kindness." [ibid. 1:2] Well, enough – I think you get the point.
If you are inclined to study (Jewish) mysticism – though our traditions does not recommend it, and in fact frowns on delving into it at all – you will be exposed to "gymatriah" -- which is (Hebrew) numerology. You will be informed that twenty two Hebrew letters have "numeric values," from one to ten, twenty to ninety, and one hundred to four hundred – similar, to some extent, to "Roman numerals." Aleph is one, beit is two – and the last letter, tav, is four hundred. Hebrew words have a numeric value of the sum of the value of the letters that make up the word. One is "Ekhad." Aleph, khet, dalet. The numeric value of Aleph is 1 plus the numeric value of khet, which is 8 plus the numeric value of dalet, which is 4 – gives us the sum of 13. Thirteen in a good number, as it is the age of Bar Mitzvah. So we are "Ekhad – One" when we are 13 and live by the Torah of the One God. However, going on with gymatriah we can add the two digits 1 plus 3 and get the sum of 4. Thus the final sum of "ekhad" is four.
Now that you understand "gymatriah" a little, let's look at the value of two Hebrew words: "Ehe'ye" – which is what God tells Moshe is His name [Ex. 3:15], and "emet" – which is the Hebrew for "truth." "Ehe'ye" gives us aleph (1) hey (5) yod (10) and hey (5) for a sum of 21. Two plus one (2+1=3) gives us a final sum of three. "Emet" gives us aleph (1) mem (40) and tav (400) for a sum of 441. Four plus four plus one (1+4+4=9) gives us a final sum of nine. What is the relationship between three and nine? Three is the root of nine! Interpret this mathematical fact in philosophical/religious terms and you can say that God is the root of truth. Therefore we can state that the threefold cord is the "God cord."
We have gathered together at this time and place to officially install the Rabbi of the congregation. All too often we think of the Rabbi as an employee of the synagogue. He is not. The Mishnah tells us, "Yehoshua ben Prakhya used to say, appoint for yourself a Rabbi and acquire a friend, and judge all men in the scale of merit." [ibid. 1:6] A Jew, to survive, must have a Rabbi, a friend, and an attitude of accepting others. So, you see, the Rabbi is a PART OF EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU. And if you accept the words of Shimeon the Righteous that the world is established upon three things: Torah, divine service, and the practice of deeds of loving-kindness – than you must realize that the Rabbi is in charge of one third of continuing existence. Torah comes from God, deeds of loving-kindness is the responsibility of the congregation – and it's the Rabbi who conducts and is responsible for the perpetuation of the divine service.
This is the Shabbat when we read about Noakh and the flood. God created the universe and our world and mankind, giving us dominion over His creation. From the start we had the potential to build and improve His creation. We always had the promise of knowledge and its attendant success in making this world a more hospitable place for us to live. Yet – in just ten generations from creation we succeeded in making this world unfit for man or beast. God was so surprised by humanity's perversion of His world that he was ready to destroy everything. It was only because of Noakh, a man who "walked with God" that the world was preserved, and life was given a second chance to flourish upon this earth.
Noakh was not the incarnation of all that was good and noble in humanity. The Torah says that he was "a righteous man and perfect in his generation." Our Rabbis and sages interpreted and said that had he lived in the age of Abraham, God would have chosen Abraham, and not Noakh. Still other interpreters said the opposite – that had Noakh lived in Abraham's age, God would have made him the progenitor of the Jewish people.
Why am I telling you this? To speak to you of your Rabbi. He is, first and foremost, a man of his time – and a man who has chosen to "walk with God." He is a man of wide ranging experiences and talents, who could have excelled at a number of professions – but he has felt a call to serve the Jewish community, to preserve and insure the continuity of Judaism into the next generation. He recognizes that he has a relationship with the Master of the universe, the "I – Thou" I spoke about earlier, and that he can extend it to the communal "I – we" which produces the "threefold cord" that will not be easily broken.
In every age parents, particularly, need role models to show their children – to give them a hero to emulate and live up to. The parents among you are fortunate to have this Rabbi, who is a fountain of wisdom – but in the packaging of a good-natured child-loving Jewish role-model who is at one and the same time ancient and modern: speaking the language of the land without a trace of a foreign accent, and knowing the tongue of the prophets even as they themselves knew it. He is versed in Mishnah and Midrash (the text of the "Oral Torah" and its interpretation), and in Microsoft and Macromedia, the web designing software.
I am proud to say that Rabbi Cassorla is a friend of many years. I know that he will be a worthy representative of your congregation and Jewish community to the general community. He will teach and make friends, explain and stand up for your rights and your needs. He has prepared his whole life to take on this challenge. And I challenge you – to work with him for the good of your congregation and your community. You need to form the "threefold cord" of Rabbi, congregation and God – to work together for the glory of God, the survival of Judaism, and the coming time of God's sovereignty upon this earth.
No man, not even Noakh, could save the whole of creation single handedly. Noakh had his family: his wife, his three sons and their wives. Your Rabbi has you for a family. May he and you together be as successful and as blessed as our progenitor Noakh. Amen

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