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Chag Hasemicha

06/01/2018 10:04:53 AM


Rabbi Steven Suson

This week, I was very fortunate to attend a Chag Hasemicha, a rabbinical ordination ceremony for a dear friend and study partner, Rabbi Gerry Gilstrop (pictured right).

The event took place in Baltimore at the beautiful Bnai Israel Synagogue. My esteemed teachers, Hakham Isaac Sassoon (pictured left) and Rabbi Dr. Leonard Levy (center) conferred the ordination and offered words of Torah to mark the occasion.

Hakham Sassoon remarked that although we primarily remember Moses as a teacher (i.e. Moshe Rabbeinu), Moses describes (and perhaps views) his own identity primarily as a shepherd.

The Bible uses two Hebrew words for shepherd, somewhat interchangeably: Ro’eh and Noheg.

When God informed Moses that it was time for his leadership to come to an end, Moses prays to God for a successor, “Lest the people will be like sheep without a shepherd (ro’eh).”

Moses begins his career as a shepherd, tending to the flock (noheg) of his father in law, Yitro. Likewise, he concludes his career, however accomplished, still in the mindset of a shepherd.

As a rabbi tends to the community and sets out to teach Torah, it isn’t done in a vacuum. Rather, with an understanding of people - that no two individuals are alike. Every person has sorrows, but our woes and our problems are also unique. A good rabbi is more than just a vending machine for Jewish knowledge. Instead a rabbi is attentive to the individual and sensitive to their particular circumstances and world view.

The titles bestowed on my friend this week were, RAV U’MANHIG, the two terms that describe Moses’ role, as he saw it. RAV - a teacher of Torah and MANHIG - one who guides individuals and communities according to their particular needs.

Knowing Rabbi Gerry, our people gained a tremendous new teacher and shepherd this week.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Suson

Wed, May 22 2019 17 Iyyar 5779