‘Rabbi’ Category

Rabbi

March 22, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat & Purim Message

On Purim, we put on costumes and celebrate Esther’s victory, our victory against the wicked Haman. One of the fundamental mitzvot or commandments of Purim is to give gifts to the needy, called mutant l’evyonim. The Ba'al Shem Tov* taught: “It is a mitzva...to dress up on Purim.”  Indeed, it is a great mitzvah, because in this way one cannot tell the nobleman from the poor. And therefore they [the rabbis] instituted the mitzvah of gifts to the poor on Purim, because when people dress up, the mitzvah of tzedakah may be performed in its most appropriate manner [כתיקונה]. One does not know then to whom they give, and the one who receives does not know from whom they receive, and thus no[...]

Category : Purim Rabbi Rabbi's Journal

Rabbi

March 14, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: Lessons from Leviticus

We have finished Genesis, on the creation of the world, followed by Exodus, in which we went from slavery to freedom. What’s next? Where do the reader, and the Jewish nation, continue from here? The next stage is the book of Leviticus, which is also called, “The Book of Holiness.” A high standard is expected of us:”You shall be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” What does the Torah mean by this demand? The commentators explain that this relates to personal sanctity: we are meant to be holy people within our physical selves and the physical world. This holiness is expressed within the small details listed in the Book of Leviticus dealing with sacrifices, respectful dialogue, holidays, the[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat

Rabbi

March 8, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: The Best-Known Symbol

In the middle of the winter, we gather together to enjoy as much fried food as we can stomach and to light the Chanukkiah. A Chanukkiah is a kind of a Menora that is specifically for Chanukkah. The Menora was initially made for the Mishkan, or Tabernacle, that was our portable temple while we, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. In our Pasha this week, Pekudei, the Torah describes the Menora as having seven branches. The artisans made the Menora by hammering out the shape from one single piece of metal rather than being made from separate pieces of metal that were joined together. The Menora was first placed in the Mishkan and later in the Temple in Jerusalem. It has[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat

Rabbi

February 28, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: Come Together

The opening verse of our Torah portion, Vayak’hel tells us that Moses brought the entire congregation of Israel together to tell them God’s commandments. Why is it so important that Moses brought everyone together? What strength do we have in being one unit and what place does an individual have among the masses? Abba Kovner* was a member of the HaShomer HaTa’ir youth movement in pre-war Europe and was a leader of the partisans during the Holocaust. He provided an answer to these questions.   "…The first week after I arrived in Israel, I went to the Western Wall. When I was just a few steps away from the stones, I felt that I did not belong, that I am a part of another[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat

Rabbi

February 14, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: We Are What We Wear

Following the description of the structure of the Tabernacle last week in Parashat Terumah, our portion, Tetzaveh, leads off with a depiction of the High Priest’s “sacral vestments” - the choshen hamishpat (breastplate of decision), the ephod, a robe, a fringed tunic, a headdress, and a sash. Classical commentators describe that their overall purpose is to elevate the holiness of Aharon, the High Priest, Kohen Gadol. The Hebrew word, kedusha/holiness is setting something apart – making it distinct and unique – so that it prompts greater feelings of carefulness, respect, and honor. Part of the Jewish wedding ceremony is called kedushin, from this same root. Each person is saying the other is special and set apart as their spouse. [caption id="attachment_10105" align="alignright" width="283"][...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal

Rabbi

February 8, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: Make Me a Sanctuary

This week we join with synagogues around the world in reading Parshat Terumah from the book of Exodus. This portion focuses on the details of the building of the Mishkan, the portable tabernacle the Israelites used to make offerings to God. In the description of how the Mishkan is to be assembled we find the following mitzvah in Exodus 25:8: V’asu li mikdash - make Me a sanctuary - ‘vshachanti b’tocham - and I (meaning God) will dwell among them (us, the Children of Israel). What does it mean for us to make a sanctuary? Well, a sanctuary is a holy space, an area set aside for the pursuit of a relationship with God. This can be a space anywhere. This can be a certain[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal

Rabbi

January 31, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: Following a Recipe

Our Parshah, MIshpatim, is a little like following a recipe. The parashah contains 53 of the 613 mitzvot in the Torah. The long list of directions and laws deals with violence, murder, damages, false testimony, bribery, returning lost property, the prohibition of eating milk and meat together, the laws of Shabbat and festival and many more! When you only sort of follow these laws, like I only sort of followed the directions on the cake recipe, you may have a good life, just like I still got that cake. Yet, when we study and follow the mitzvot in a more careful manner, our lives become that much meaningful. God’s commandments connect us with a long and rich history of people living according to[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat

Rabbi

January 11, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Torah Portion – Recall the past; Look to the Future

This week read the final three plagues, locusts, darkness and the slaying of the firstborn inner Torah portion this week. God describes the final plague to Moses and Aaron. Yet before that final plague is enacted, the Torah breaks from the description of the final plague to give directions of how the Israelites are to celebrate Passover in the coming years. Through this, God is saying, “You are about to experience something great and awful and you will make a remembrance to this moment every year.” While the people still remain enslaved in Egypt, God gives directions that will be passed down for the next thousands of years. God is looking at our distant future even when our present is especially difficult.[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Torah Teachings

Rabbi

January 4, 2019
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: The Ten Plagues

Our parsha, Vaera recounts the first seven of the ten plagues God brings to Egypt. During Shabbat services, on Friday night at 8 PM we will discuss the scientific rationale behind the 10 plagues and if they matter to us. God sends the first plague, turning the water in Egypt to blood. The Tora text states, “The Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron: Take your rod and hold out your arm over the waters of Egypt…that they may turn to blood…” Exodus 7:19 Further, God asks Moses and Aaron participate in the bringing 5 out of the 7 plagues described in our parsha. Surely, God could have turned the water to blood, brought frogs, lice, boils, and fiery hail without asking Moses and[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat Torah Teachings

Rabbi

December 28, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: What’s in a Name?

We begin reading the book of Exodus this week and learn of Moses’ birth. The daughter of Pharaoh gives him the name, Moshe or Moses after the circumstances in which she found him. Exodus 2:10 states, "The child (Moses) grew up, and she (Yocheved) brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, and she said, "For I drew him from the water.” The Hebrew name, Moshe, literally means drawing. This name is a description fo how Pharoah's daughter found Moses, floating in the Nile as well as a foreshadowing to Moses’ life of drawing people out, to freedom and to safety. The word a person hears most, is their own name. The name Moshe or[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat

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