‘Rabbi’s Journal’ Category

Rabbi’s Journal

November 8, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Toldot, This Week’s Torah Portion: Jacob and Esau

This week, we read of the birth of the twins, Jacob and Esau. We learn that from the time they were able, they were opposites. They struggled over who would receive their father, Isaac’s, blessing. This struggle is shown between two people yet it could also be viewed as a struggle between two archetypes or philosophies of life. Esau lives as a violent hunter who is most comfortable and adept in the outdoors. He is cunning and ruled by his impulses. Jacob is described as simple, innocent and gentle. Every day we have a struggle within us between being ruled by our impulses and living a more gentle and patient life. We have the inner tension between Esau, who represents the[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Torah Teachings

Rabbi’s Journal

November 1, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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This Week’s Torah Portion: The Life of Sarah

Our parsha is called, Chaye Sarah, after the first three words that begin this section. The tex, Genesis Chapter 23:1 states:  וַיִּֽהְיוּ֙ חַיֵּ֣י שָׂרָ֔ה מֵאָ֥ה שָׁנָ֛ה וְעֶשְׂרִ֥ים שָׁנָ֖ה וְשֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֑ים שְׁנֵ֖י חַיֵּ֥י שָׂרָֽה And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; (these were) the years of the life of Sarah. Our Torah text speaks of Sarah’s life twice in just this one sentence. Even in the announcement of her death, Sarah’s life is emphasized. Tree of Life Synagogue suffered an unimaginable tragedy this week. 11 souls, lost their lives in shul. They and we are mourning a loss of innocent life. Yet as we mourn, we honor their lives. Let us gather in the memory of Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Torah Teachings Uncategorized

Rabbi’s Journal

October 18, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Torah Portion: Improve Yourself

This week we read in the Torah that Avram is commanded by God to “Go forth (לךלך) from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” In a careful reading of the Hebrew, the command God gives Avram, “Go forth,” or “Lech l’cha, לךלך” could be read to say, “Go for yourself.” Rabbi Shalom Noah Berezovsky expands on this idea in his book Netivot Shalom. ''Go for yourself. Everything a person encounters in their spiritual and material life, the bad, the good, is given to them so that they will correct their purpose in life. Therefore the verse says. “Go for yourself,” to your purpose, to correct your soul, and to what[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Torah Teachings

Rabbi’s Journal

October 5, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Torah Portion: Let God’s Light In

This week we celebrated Simchat Torah together.  We enjoyed dancing and celebrating together. Jeremy Strauss finished our reading of the Torah and the book of Deuteronomy. Marc Fertik began reading from the beginning of Genesis.   Our Torah begins with God creating the world.  What existed before God’s creating was an unformed mass, it wasn’t nothingness, it was everything. Everything in this world was mixed together in a chaotic state.  The Hebrew term for this chaos is תהו ובהו or “tohu v’vohu.”    In our lives we too experience this kind of mixed up chaos, our own “tohu v’vohu.” So often when we find ourselves at the beginning of a big project, it can be difficult to figure out where to start. [...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Simhat Torah Torah Teachings

Rabbi’s Journal

September 27, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Torah Portion for Sukkot: The End of the book of Exodus

This Shabbat, the Torah portion that is read is from the end of the book of Exodus. We read this portion to correspond with the holiday of Sukkot instead of the next portion chronologically in the Torah, V'Zot Ha'Brachah which is read on Simchat Torah.  I would like to share my thoughts on this final Torah portion.   Deuteronomy 33:4 states:   “תורה צוה לנו משה מורשה קהילת יעקב” Torah tzivah lanu moshe, morashah kehilat yaakov. The Torah was commanded to us by Moses, it is an inheritance of the community of Jacob. This verse can be separated into two parts. First, we have where the Torah came from.  The Torah was commanded to us by Moses, and ultimately by God.  Second, we have the statement[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat Simhat Torah Sukkot Torah Teachings

Rabbi’s Journal

September 12, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Rosh Hashanah Day 2 Sermon

[caption id="attachment_9704" align="alignright" width="318"] God’s presence surrounds us every moment.[/caption] When I was in my last year of graduate school, I worked at a synagogue in Malibu, CA.  I would drive through cities, streets lined with strip malls turning onto a highway, then to narrow roads surrounded by brush and no cell service.   My car would finally climb up the last hill and I would be overlooking the gorgeous Pacific Ocean before driving down to sea level.  The view was incredible…the first time. After a couple of weeks, I was distracted making a to-do list in my head as I approached my job.  After the first month, I almost didn’t notice the view.  I then decided that I was missing something[...]

Category : High Holidays Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Rosh Hashanah Sermons

Rabbi’s Journal


By Beth Mordecai
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Rosh Hashanah Day 1 Sermon

How many of you have called out to a loved one and used the wrong name? Did you have a dog or cat growing up and was accidentally called their name by your parents? Growing up I would sometimes hear: Donna, Steve, Rusty, Samantha I mean Sara come here. When my father would call me my mother or brother’s name it wasn’t so bad, when he got to the cat or dog’s names… I didn’t love it.  Then my father would look at me and say, well you know who you are.  Like my father, I do this too. I cycle through the kids’ names before landing on the correct one.  I too then look at the child I’m calling and declare, “Well[...]

Category : High Holidays Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Rosh Hashanah Sermons

Rabbi’s Journal


By Beth Mordecai
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Erev Rosh Hashanah Sermon

King Solomon challenged his wisest advisors to find him a ring that when worn could make a person cherish their joy and bring comfort in their sadness.  The advisor searched high and low. With the deadline to the challenge approaching, the advisor went to the local market where he found ring with the following words engraved on it, “Gam ze ya’avor. This, too, shall pass.” King Solomon was delighted that his advisor had completed this seemingly impossible task. He saw when he was melancholy, the message on the ring would comfort him and remind him of sunnier days ahead. When he was at the height of contentment, the ring would humble him and remind him of life’s fleeting nature. Legend has[...]

Category : High Holidays Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Rosh Hashanah Sermons

Rabbi’s Journal

September 6, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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This Week’s Torah Portion: Short and Sweet

Please enjoy my thoughts on our Torah portion this week and preparations for Rosh Hashanah.   Our parshah, Nitzavim, is the second shortest portion in the Torah.  It continues Moses’s final speeches to the Israelites before they will enter the Land of Israel.  The parshah opens saying, “you who are standing today, all of you before the Lord your God.”  As we approach the days before the Rosh Hashanah, we are all before God.  On this Shabbat,  as preparation for Rosh Hashanah, imagine yourself before God.   What do you say?  Have you done the best you can?  How can God help you? How can you help others? When you can answer those questions honestly to yourself and to God, you are ready for the New Year. May it[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal

Rabbi’s Journal

August 24, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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This Week’s Torah Portion: 74 Mitzvot

Some weeks are so busy, it can be hard to find a time to breathe. There may be so much going on it is difficult to give complete focus to any task.  Our parsha this week, Ki Teitzei, contains 74 mitzvot, or commandments. This is more than any other parsha. Some of the mitzvot include shooing away the mother bird before taking eggs from the nest, building a fence around the roof of the house, not yoking together different animals such as a donkey and a ox to flow the field and various commandments about our clothing. Some of these statements have obvious reasons, such as putting a fence around the roof. In ancient times, people used their roofs for a[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal

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