Tidbits of Torah

Tidbits of Torah

       

 Parashat Terumah

Purposeful Presence…  

February 9, 2019 – 4 First Adar 5779  

Dear Friends,

 

Our chumash translates the Hebrew name of our weekly Torah portion: “Terumah” as: “gifts.”  This is a fine translation, as long as one understands “gifts” as “contributions,” not simply “presents.”

Our people were commanded to bring “Terumah” to collectively create the Holy Sanctuary in the desert.

Interestingly, the creation of the world is described in the Bible in forty some verses, all in all.  The collaborative creation of the Sanctuary in the desert is described in the Bible in some four hundred verses!

Clearly, the Torah is sending us the message that God’s creative work, important and holy as it was, is secondary to our human collaborative and creative work.  We create and collaborate with one another and with God, to give our lives purpose.  We contribute so that our lives are enriched.

God is not looking for our “presents.”  God is looking for us to be present, to be active, to be creative!  Our purposeful presence in collaborative and creative work is the most powerful reflection of God’s Presence in our midst. Through our contributions to Holy projects and to our collaborative efforts, God is looking to awaken our awareness of God’s continuing Presence in our midst, day after day.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Rabbi Gilah Dror

 

 

Tidbits of Torah

       

 Parashat Mishpatim

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh 

I Know How You Feel….  

February 2, 2019 – 27 Shevat 5779  

Dear Friends,

 

How many times have we said to someone:  “I know how you feel….”?   This is such a simple phrase, yet so powerful.   When we say it in a heartfelt way, we express our empathy with the person who has just shared his/her story with us.

But, how many times do we say: “I know how you feel” to a stranger?

Probably not too many times!

Empathy comes naturally to us when we feel a connection with people. But, when we relate to “others”, to “strangers,” we need to work on ourselves in order for us to relate in an empathetic manner.  And, that is what the Torah challenges us to do!

The Torah teaches us that we are supposed to treat the stranger with compassion.  It challenges us to remember that our ancestors were once slaves in Egypt. We are supposed to remember and repeat that ancestral story of slavery, over and over.  We were strangers in the land of Egypt.  And, we were mistreated.  Hopefully, having reminded ourselves of this story, we can more easily empathize not only with people in our closest circle, but also with strangers, with “other” people with whom we may have very little in common!

The Torah invites us to stretch our spiritual selves and to apply our ethics not only to those in our closest circle but also to those beyond our circle.  The Torah wants us to embrace the stranger and to encompass a broader segment of the population around us with the warmth of our caring tradition.  The Torah wants us to be able to say: “I know how you feel” to the strangers in our midst so that we remember to treat all people with dignity and with respect.

What a beautiful Torah we have!  May we preserve it, remembering our history, and using it to fashion a better world in the days to come.

This Shabbat we will recite the blessing of the new month of Adar Rishon (the first of the two months of Adar in this Jewish leap year).  Rosh Chodesh Adar Rishon will be on Monday night, Tuesday and Wednesday of this coming week.  May it be a month of great blessing and of joy!

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Rabbi Gilah Dror

 

 

Tidbits of Torah

       

 Parashat B’Shalach

Shabbat Shirah

Faith, Fortitude and Freedom 

January 19, 2019 – 13 Shevat 5779  

Dear Friends,

 

MLK weekend coincides with Shabbat Shirah – the Shabbat when we read the amazing Song of the Sea!  Our people experienced the miracle of the parting of the waters.  Our people crossed the Red Sea, sealing their escape from the bonds of slavery.

Yet, the road to the Promised Land was not a smooth path.  Our people faced many challenges.  And, we, like them, are not there yet.  Faith, fortitude, and determination.   That is what is needed to get us to the ultimate vision of freedom!

This morning I woke up and these words came to my mind:

It is not an open road.
It is not an easy path.
Our people told the story
Of passing through the sea.
One challenge overcome.
Breathe a sigh of relief.
Gather strength
For as long as our vision remains in tact
And we take the next step…
There is hope
That some day
We will arrive
In the Promised Land.

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Rabbi Gilah Dror