Times: Shabbat starts on Friday at 5:03pm and ends on Saturday night at 6:04pm. The weekly Torah portion is Matot-Massei.

Mincha in the CBD: Mincha is still virtual as we await people returning to work in the city. That means we all daven at an agreed time, which is 1.00pm. Details at the WhatsApp group.

Study: Weekly Shiur continues on Wednesday at 1:10pm via zoom, following mincha at 1.00pm. BYO lunch. Details here.

Thought of the Week with thanks to Rabbi Dovid Gutnick. Would life be blissfully normal, we would all be in shul this Shabbos calling out in unison ‘Chazak – Be strong and of good conviction’ as we complete another volume of our Torah reading cycle. Sadly however this will not be the case as we continue to traverse the difficult terrain of life with a virus that has forced us into our homes. We are also in a period in the Jewish calendar associated with destruction and tragedies in days bygone.

It is however worth reminding ourselves that our sages viewed challenging times as beneficial for growth and achievement.

Rabbi Chanina said: The eyes are composed of white and dark parts. One can see only through the dark part. (Bamidbar Rabbah)

Darkness increases human perception. Stars shine bright at night. Our brightest luminaries forged their greatness on lives of challenge and suffering. It is for this reason that the Shabbat before our saddest day of the year is called Chazon – the Shabbat of great vision.

We can spend this time wringing our hands in despair or we can use this challenging period of time to refine our vision. This year in lieu of chanting Chazak, we can live chazak! Let us redouble our conviction to a life of aspiration and true meaning.

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