This Shabbat evening we will distribute our Ad Book, a tribute to Rabbi Neil Brief and his beloved Erica, may she be remembered for blessing. We thank Judy Frank, Ada Rabinowitz, and Debbie Reich for their hard work in making this Ad Book a reality.
Rabbi and Erica Brief, for decades, connected deeply with the individuals in this congregation. They excelled at panim el panim - face to face - Judaism. That is, seeing a face before you, encountering another person, and realizing that this is a soul created in G-d's image and deserving of respect and love.
There is a moment in Va'Yeshev, this week's Torah portion, when Joseph seems tempted to submit to the advances of the wife of Potiphar. A midrash explains that, at that critical moment, his father's face flashed before him. The image of Jacob's face kept Joseph strong.
A face - or simply the image of a face - is a powerful thing.
It is good to encounter each other face to face, understanding the implicit beauty in every other human being. And it is important as well, like Joseph, to keep before us the images of those we respect and honor. Doing so can help us attain our highest values.
Rabbi Jeffrey Weill