R U OK day is on Thursday 10 September. 

September 8, 2020 by Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann
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R U OK? Day: the national day of mental health awareness and suicide prevention, aims for people to reach out and ask each other if they are okay and have important conversations about mental health and struggles people are experiencing.

I don’t need to remind you about the crazy year that we have all had and highly encourage each and every one of you to reach out to a friend of community member who may be struggling during this difficult time and have a chat with them. Let us ask each other R U OK?

This week has been a little bit disappointing for me, as I am sure many of you too are feeling. With the extension of lockdown in Melbourne, it feels a little bleak going into the High Holiday festival which is usually one of the highlights in our community for the year.

However, I implore you all not to lose faith. While this year’s Jewish festival period will look different to other years, I know that our community which has pulled together so many times during this challenging year will persevere.

Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann

It’s interesting when I have contrasted the beautiful weather we have experienced in Melbourne since the onset of spring but the bleak feelings so many of us are still having about being in lockdown. However, as the weather picks up and the seasons change and we enter the High Holiday period I have faith that good times are just ahead and anyways, it is almost impossible to stay in bad mood with such beautiful sunshine!

And if you needed a further reminder about good times being ahead when you are feeling down, this week is the double Parsha of Nitzavim-Vayelech which includes some of the most fundamental principles of faith.

The fact that all Jewish people are responsible for one another is highlighted. When G-d addresses the people of Israel, they are all recorded as being important, from the head of the community to the water-drawers. This was meant to symbolize that our people is only strong if we recognise the fact that we are interdependent upon each other. Our success is measured in our unity.

The Mashiach, future redemption is highlighted. Although Moshe highlights that the people of Israel will experience many difficult times during exile, the fact that they will be returned to the land of Israel and the reunification of our people is a promise and fact for the future. This means that when our exile feels helpless and everything seems to be going badly we can rely on the promise that our people will yet see better days ahead and that the exile, however painful and difficult is merely a temporary state of being.

Lastly, the Parsha also highlights the importance of the practical nature of the Mitzvot and Torah that have been given to our people. The laws are not meant to be remote and unrelatable and something that is reserved for the elite or the scholars. Rather, Torah and the way of life imbued to us via the Torah is something that is applicable on this earth to all people and it is close to us, in our mouths and hearts.

With this, I leave you with the hope that better days are yet coming and we will be celebrating good times ahead soon.

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