Shabbat Message

Extreme Effort = Good

This week’s Parsha begins with the words: “If you follow My statutes”.  Rashi clarifies that “following” here doesn’t mean to just follow (as in observe) – because in the same sentence the Torah also says, “and observe My commandments,” so the fulfillment of the commandments is already stated. So what is the meaning of “IfContinue reading "Extreme Effort = Good"

Like the one you love

The Jewish people are like one large family – we may love each other, but it is not always so harmonious. We need to work on liking each other too. It can be easier to like someone that you do not really care about, but when you love someone, that closeness and caring makes itContinue reading "Like the one you love"

How to be Holy

Kedoshim T’Hiyu: You shall be holy (Leviticus Chapter 19). In this Parsha, with the opening instruction to be holy, there are 51 commandments, most dealing with the most mundane circumstances.  Our Kabbalah masters explain that holiness isn’t found by distancing ourselves from the material, but on the contrary – spirituality is found when one fulfillsContinue reading "How to be Holy"

When We Are Silent

In response to the death of his two sons, when Moses comforts Aaron, the Torah describes Aaron’s acknowledgement of what happened: וידם אהרן, “And Aaron was silent.”  Aaron was silent. With Yom Hashoah Ve-Hagevurah – Day of (Remembrance of) the Holocaust and the Bravery this week, and Yom HaZikaron – Israeli Memorial Day next week,Continue reading "When We Are Silent"

Higher Together

King Solomon teaches in Proverbs (18:21): “Mavet v’hayyim beyad lashon” – “Death and life are in the hand of the tongue.” Last week’s Parshah described the signs of the Metzora—a person afflicted by a spiritual malady for talking slander, which places them in a state of ritual impurity. This week’s Torah reading details how theContinue reading "Higher Together"

We bless the new month of Nissan that begins next Shabbat, this weekend. The month of Nissan is the Month of Redemption. There is a beautiful practice that during the month of Nissan we recite a blessing when we see the budding fruit trees that start to bloom (Birkat Ha’Ilanot). Life has many beautiful andContinue reading "Spring is (almost) in the Air"

Purim Unmasked

Purim does not have any epic miracles…in the Purim story, things turned out positively, and we consciously choose to see the miracle. We recognize that the chronicle is a disguise for G-d’s influence. On Purim we dress up, we put on masks, and we act like someone we are not. Everyone and everything has aContinue reading "Purim Unmasked"

From Darkness to Destiny

We completed reading the book of Exodus last week, that book ending with the description of the presence of the Cloud of Glory in the Tabernacle. This week’s reading begins with G-d calling out to Moses and speaking to him from the Tabernacle. The juxtaposition is intentional: G-d manifesting Himself in the clouds and callingContinue reading "From Darkness to Destiny"

Stand Up and be Counted

This week’s Parsha describes the accounting made of the gold, silver and copper donated by the people for the making of the Tabernacle. We read about the successful completion of the venture, the dedication ceremony, and Moses blesses each person for their contribution:  He thanks each person for their individual donation, and the teams ofContinue reading "Stand Up and be Counted"

United We Stand: But For What?

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel Moses assembles the people of Israel, gathering the whole congregation to come together to learn about Shabbat and the building of the Tabernacle. Last week, we read about a congregation that misused the energy and zealousness that is born out of the atmosphere created when many individuals gather together.Continue reading "United We Stand: But For What?"