Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat BaMidbar and Shavuot – Open Our Hearts to Your Torah


 Shabbat Parashat BaMidbar

and Shavuot (Saturday night, Sunday and Monday) 

Open Our Hearts to Your Torah   

June 8, 2019 – 5 Sivan 5779  

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat will be followed immediately by the two days of Shavuot – the holiday which celebrates the giving of the Torah!  For the traditional lighting of the candles on Saturday night in honor of Shavuot, we ensure that we have an existing fire from which we may light the candles.  This existing fire should be lit and burning non-stop from before Shabbat begins!

On both nights of Shavuot, Saturday night and Sunday night, we recite two blessings when lighting the candles: The first blessing “Barukh atta Adonai, elohaynu melech haOlam, asher kideshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlik ner shel Yom Tov” is followed by the Shehecheyanu blessing.

This Shabbat as we prepare for Shavuot, we read the first Torah portion of the fourth book of Moses, BaMidbar.  In English we refer to this fourth Book of the Torah as “Numbers.”  In Hebrew, the word BaMidbar, actually means: In the Wilderness!

I mention this literal translation of BaMidbar as “wilderness” because the Torah is more than a story of what happened to our people in ancient times.  The Torah is our guide in life.  How often might we find ourselves in our own personal state of “wilderness” or “bewilderment”…?

Just as is the case in the physical wilderness – the more complicated our lives, the more uncertainty we face, the more options lie before us….That is when we may turn to Torah and to one another for spiritual guidance and for communal support!

On Sunday morning, the first day of Shavuot, we will celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, by chanting the Torah reading that includes the Ten Commandments!  Or, should I say: the Ten Guideposts?!

This weekend, let us acknowledge our “bewilderment” and find our way forward.  Let us celebrate our lives, our tradition, our Torah, our congregation and all the good that comes of being connected to one another on Friday night, on Saturday, on Sunday morning, and on Monday morning!  Yizkor will be recited on Monday at our services.  As we say in our prayers:  Open our Hearts to Your Torah!  Let us remember to be there for ourselves, as well as for others!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

Rabbi Gilah Dror


Parashat B’har – Mountains and Memories

Dear Friends,

How many mountains have we climbed?  How many memories have we acquired?  Our Torah portion begins by mentioning Mount Sinai.  Even if we have not personally climbed that particular mountain, we retain a communal memory of that amazing mountain where God appeared and spoke with all of us.  Midrash tells us that each one of us was there, at Mount Sinai, when our people received the Torah.

Why was the Torah revealed on a mountain, rather than on some flat terrain?  Perhaps to remind us that, from time to time, we all climb mountains in our lives.  We all face challenges.  But we were all present when the Torah was given on Mount Sinai.  Our Torah is a precious gift that helps us face our personal and communal mountains armed with spiritual tools, with guiding principles, that help us to rise to any occasion.

On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember those who climbed mountain after mountain so that we would be able to live in freedom in our country.  We honor their memory and pray that they rest in peace, knowing that we are grateful for their service and for the liberties we enjoy thanks to their dedication and caring.

Mountains and memories are intertwined this weekend in more ways than one….

May the memory of all those who gave their lives in the service of our nation be for a blessing.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Parashat Emor – Mentoring Moments

Dear Friends,

I hope that you will join us this Friday night and on Shabbat morning for services as we welcome Cantor Ruth Ross, our High Holiday Cantor, to Rodef Sholom Temple.

I also hope that you will be here this Shabbat morning as Dr. Kim Gipson’s Religious school class will process with their hand-made Torah scrolls along with our full sized Torah scroll!

At Rodef Sholom Temple, we are blessed to be able to offer “mentoring moments” in the form of Jewish education on all levels, beginning with our children and continuing through our adult education programs.

This week’s Torah portion, Emor, has an inspiring message for all who strive to convey their love for Jewish living and their appreciation for Jewish values to others.

Our Parsha opens with the words: “The Lord said to Moses: Emor [speak] to the priests, the sons of Aaron, V’Amarta [and say] to them.” (Leviticus 21:1)

Our Sages ask:  Why does the Torah say: Emor….V’Amarta?  Why does the Torah use two different verbal commands in the opening verse of the Parsah?  Isn’t the second verbal command redundant?

Our Sages suggest to us that words, Emor and V’Amarta, refer to two different modes of communication.  In Hebrew, Emor refers to a gentle, pleasing, fun mode of communication.  V’Amarta stands for a more resolute form of communication.

May we be blessed to know when and how to best communicate our love of Jewish living and appreciation of Jewish values to those around us – whether we are communicating with children or adults.  And may our “mentoring moments” be accepted with an equal measure of love and of appreciation.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror