Going to a circus has been always a great experience for me. First as a child and more recently as a parent, I’ve always had fun and lots of laughs when the circus is in town. All that a circus can offer can make long lasting memories.

I have been always impressed by two of the attractions that, until recently, you could find in almost every circus. The elephants and the trapeze artists.

I remember when I was a child, one particular time we went to the circus, we arrived before the show and we had a chance to see all the animals up close. I was especially impressed by the size of the elephant. I was even more impressed by the tricks the elephant was able to do. I wondered back then why the elephant would not try to escape. At the end of the day, when I saw the elephant, chained with a very simple and plain chain to a post, that the elephant could break it and easily escape.

Later in life I read a nice explanation about this very situation. Apparently, when circus elephants are born, they are chained and they typically try very hard to pull away and escape from this bondage. The young elephants cannot do it and after several attempts, they get tired and give up. The calf knows the chain is stronger and therefore learns not to try again – they remain chained. Of course, the chains do not prevent the elephants from performing nicely.

The trapeze artists are also always great attractions for me. They’re appealing not only because of theit amazing tricks but also because they have long, wide strong nets that they use for protection. As they finish their performance, they let themselves fall on the net; they rely on it and then come down to the main stage to receive their due applause. I was always fascinated by how much they relied on that net to end their show.

Why am I telling you all this? What does a circus have to do with a spiritual reflection?

Sooner or later, we all need support in our lives. When someone in the family falls ill, we may need the presence, the support, the help of others. It happens very frequently that for different reasons (call it fear, anxiety from previous experiences, shame, privacy, embarrassment, or something else) we do not ask for help. We feel the chain learned from feeling all those emotions. The elephant learned not to pull against the chain for freedom. We learn not to make the call to ask for help to avoid the discomforting feelings.

Like the trapeze artists, we have many nets of support to help and provide assistance. You have friends and your family but our congregation has a range of supports, too. One of them is the Bikkur Cholim group.

Bikkur Cholim (visiting the sick) is an active group of members ready to perform the mitzvah of Chesed (act of loving kindness). Bikkur Cholim is one of the nets in our congregation that is available to bring support, deliver a chicken soup (home made!!!), pay a visit, give a phone call, send a letter, be a listening ear for those in physical and spiritual need.

But you need to break the chain and let us know about your situation.

There is so much chesed — love, affection and care that this group has to give, but we do not know who in our community has a need.

Thinking of the circus brings back smiles to our faces. The Bikkur Cholim group is ready to bring back smiles to the faces of those in need.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you think you or a loved one could benefit from the Bikkur Cholim group.






Posted by Rabbi Fabián Werbin


Sarah Birnbach

I love your metaphor of the circus and the way you related it to the Bikkur Cholim and the need to ask for help. Thank you for this post.

Peter Cohen

Rabino Fabian, el Talmud nunca sancionaría el horrible abuso en el que se mantienen los animales de circo. Es un rencor en el ojo de Hashem. Por favor, recuerden que a Noé se le ordenó salvar a un macho y a una hembra de cada animal, non comida, sino poblar el planeta con toda clase de animales, libres y felices. Entiendo que disfrutaste elefantes, tigres, leones y otros animales, pero no debo defender su abuso, que no es concordante con la tradición judía. ¡Incluso al Papa Francisco no le gusta!

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