‘Rabbi’s Journal’ Category

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

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