Tidbits of Torah

Tidbits of Torah

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Tidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat Yitro
February 2, 2013 – 22 Shevat 5773

Dear Friends,

Why am I so proud of our Shabbat Schools? For a combination of reasons….

First of all, our Shabbat School services are truly an inter-generational spiritual experience!

Although, as a rule, students lead much of the service, there are times when parts of the service are led by our adult participants. Our students are not isolated in a separate student minyan. They do get to have some separate time with their teachers during the service, but they also get to participate and to lead parts of the service for all of us.

Secondly, Shabbat School involves preparation on the part of our students, as well as on the part of our dedicated teachers and on the part of Tess Goldblatt, our gifted Education Director.

Best of all, the Shabbat School service provides excellent preparation for our students for their lives beyond Confirmation. As they “graduate” from our formal Jewish education program, our students will feel comfortable in any synagogue or Jewish community around the world because at Shabbat School, and in preparation for Shabbat School, our students become immersed in Jewish tradition and practice. That preparation is priceless!

Our Torah portion of Yitro includes the story of our people receiving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.

Torah tells us that men, women, and children, young and old, all gathered together at the foot of Mount Sinai. It was an amazing inter-generational spiritual moment for our people that is echoed in our Shabbat School experiences at Rodef Sholom Temple.

The Torah also tells us that the people had to prepare for that special moment at Mount Sinai. Yet, even as Moses was on the mountaintop for the first time, the people sinned by creating the Golden Calf. After pleading for the people, Moses returned to Mount Sinai and brought down the second set of tablets. These differed from the original tablets in that, this time, Moses participated in the writing of the Ten Commandments rather than simply receiving the tablets from Above.

Moses’ participation in the writing of the second set of tablets points to the power of participation in helping all of us to absorb and to internalize the messages of the Torah.

Inter-generational programs and prayers, as well as preparation and participation are the key to lifelong involvement and to lifelong commitment to Jewish life and to Jewish values. And, all of these elements come together in our Shabbat Schools….Now you know why I am so proud of our Shabbat Schools!

So, come join us for this week’s Friday night service and don’t miss the joy of our Shabbat morning services which will include Rodef Sholom Temple’s Shabbat School as well this week!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat B’Shalach

Tidbits of TorahTidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat B’Shalach
Shabbat Shirah and Tu B’Shevat!
January 26, 2013 – 15 Shevat 5773

Dear Friends,

I always love Shabbat Shirah – the Shabbat of Song – because we chant both the Song of the Sea, as part of our weekly Torah reading, and Deborah’s Song, as our haftarah reading from the Prophets!

It is not so much the musicality of our ancestors that we preserve in these readings, although the poetry in both of these songs is magnificent…It is the spiritual joy that our ancestors knew how to express when wonderful events transpired to uplift them. Yes, even in the midst of uncertainty, there are moments worth raising up and noticing. There are moments worthy of celebration, of song, and of thanks!

The Song of the Sea was a preface to the 40 year struggles of our people in the desert, celebrating the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea, and looking forward to the full redemption and to the entry into the Promised Land which had yet to come.

Deborah’s song was a reflection of the trials and tribulations associated with the settlement of the Land of Israel in the time of the Judges.

Despite the uncertainties of life, our ancestors taught us, by their example, to fully embrace opportunities to give thanks with all of our hearts for the miracles that do occur from time to time, and to look forward to spiritual and communal moments that remind us that we are not alone in the world.

This Shabbat is also Tu’B’Shevat – the Jewish New Year for trees. In the midst of winter, we anticipate the first blossoming of the trees that will soon herald the Spring…What better way to celebrate Shabbat than to look forward to another year of delicious fruits!

I wish us all a Shabbat Shalom and a very happy Tu’B’Shevat!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Bo

Tidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat Bo
January 19, 2013 – 8 Shevat 5773

Dear Friends,

Intransigence is such a powerful force in our world….

When I read the story of Pharoah, as it is told in our weekly Torah portion of Bo, I am struck not only by Pharoah’s intransigence in the face of Moses’ message to Pharoah, but also by the thought of the many times in life when we fall into a patterns of intransigence rather than letting go of things that would be best let go.

How many times have we held onto “ideals” or “principles” that have only served to divide us, to increase dissension, and to defeat the possibility of coming to a better understanding of those around us, and ultimately to stand in the way of peace…

Pharoah paid the price of intransigence.

Yet, Moses was no less adamant in his stance – repeatedly conveying God’s message: “Let my people go!”

How do we know when to hold fast to our principles, and when to let go for the sake of peace?

Our parsha, Bo, invites us to have this conversation.

Our Torah encourages us to “separate the wheat from the chaff” – to identify the ideals and the values that require our undivided loyalty and to clarify for ourselves the parameters of fair compromise and of practicality.

One thing is certain: The value of freedom, which stands firmly at the center of Torah’s message, is tied to the understanding that we are only free if we accept the right of others to enjoy freedom as well.  We are only free if we remember that all human beings are created in the image of God.

Intransigence for a good cause…that is what Torah wants us to aim for.

On this weekend, when we recall Martin Luther King, Jr. and his life’s work, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror