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Dvar Torah - Parsha Acharei Mot

"By dawn on December 20th Anzac had faded into a dim blue line lost amid other hills on the horizon as the ships took their human freight to Imbros, Lemnos and Egypt. But Anzac stood, and still stands, for reckless valour in a good cause, for enterprise, resourcefulness, fidelity, comradeship, and endurance that will never own defeat." --Charles Bean

Anzac day is coming. The most solemn day on the Australian calendar. The day when we remember and honour those who serve and protect us. The day when we gather and stand in silence, when we salute, and also when we reflect.

The Anzac spirit is one of universally valued virtues, one which all can admire. Famously, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk honoured those his country fought at Gallipoli, for they were his enemies, but their example was one all can respect and learn from. We too, as Jews, honour these heroes and learn from their values, their spirit, and their example.

As embodied in the opening commandment of our second Parsha this week, a major concern of Jewish ethics is to be holy for Hashem, our G-d, is holy. Our rabbis explain that this mitzvah is actually a meta commandment that sums up the entire Torah, requiring us to not merely do what is technically correct, but what is right and proper morally. We have to keep the spirit of our Torah and not just the black letter of its law.

The Anzacs are honoured not merely because they protect and serve but because they embody everything we most value as Australians. As Australian Jews, let's honour both them and the Torah but enhancing our respect for one another, our ethics, our morality, our concern for other people, and our own willingness to give.

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