‘Rabbi’s Journal’ Category

Rabbi’s Journal

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’s Journal

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’s Journal

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’s Journal

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’s Journal

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’s Journal

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

Rabbi’s Journal

December 14, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message from Rabbi Metz

In this week’s parshah, the Prime Minister of Egypt, Pharaoh’s right-hand man, reveals his true identity to the sons of Israel who had come seeking food in this time of famine. He is in fact Joseph, the brother they had betrayed, cast down in a pit and sold into slavery. “Then Joseph said to his brothers,…’I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that God sent me before you…and [in] another five years, there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you…’” (Genesis 45:4-6) Essentially, Joseph is saying that all his trials and tribulations, including[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat Torah Teachings

Rabbi’s Journal

December 6, 2018
By Beth Mordecai
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Chanukkah Message from Rabbi Metz

This is from a reflection was written by my colleague, Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. I would like to share it with you and please share your reactions and thoughts with me at Rabbi.SaraMetz@gmail.com. People keep asking me about that New York Times article where a person is shocked to discover the fact that the war Hanukah commemorates is, a war, full of pain and trauma and atrocity, that it's not like a child's picture-book...The war through which we celebrate Hanukah was, in part, intra-Jewish, in which zealous traditionalists attacked and killed more assimilationist Hellenized Jews--WHILE FIGHTING THE SELUCID ARMY TO GAIN THEIR FREEDOM. The catalyst for the violent revolution was the reigning Syrian Greek king, Antiochus IV, who demanded that Jews worship false[...]

Category : Hanukkah History Holidays Rabbi Rabbi's Journal

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