Tidbits of Torah

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

Shabbat Parashat Shemot – Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh

Shabbat Parashat Shemot
Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh
January 5, 2013 – 23 Tevet 5773

Dear Friends,

One of the most amazing insights in this week’s action-packed Torah portion
of Shemot is the fact that redemption can sometimes come from the least
likely places….

It was Pharoah who decided that the Israelites were a threat to Egypt and
that the way to deal with them was to order the drowning of the newborn sons
in the Nile. Yet, it was Pharoah’s own daughter who drew Moses out of the
Nile and saved his life!

Reminding us that there might be some positive influences within pockets of
negativity, the Torah tells us this amazing tale about Pharoah’s daughter.

What’s the message?

Never give up hope that seeds of redemption will somehow give birth to
positive trends within our world.

Never assume that a person’s surroundings define that person or their
character.

Never give up on the younger generation.

Despite the negative forces that attempt to wreak havoc in the world, there
are heroes and leaders in the making ready to respond to the call to make
our world a better place.

This Shabbat we will recite the prayer for the upcoming Jewish month of
Shevat. Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be a week from now – on next Friday night
and Shabbat.

May it be a month of renewal, of redemption, of health and of peace!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Parashat Noah

Tidbits of Torah 
Shabbat Parashat Noah
October 20, 2012 – 4 Cheshvan 5773

Dear Friends,

Imagination is a wonderful thing. It releases us from the shackles of reality and encourages us to think out of the box. As foreign as it is to our “reality,” imagination has a way of seeping back into our world, helping us to maximize our creativity as we address our real life issues. Substitute the word “midrash” for “imagination” and you have the key to the holiness embodied in the process of studying existing midrashim and creating new midrash based on Torah and on our ancient sources.

This week we read the Torah portion of Noah. After the flood, the Torah tells us that Noah planted a vineyard, cultivated it, produced wine and proceeded to drink too much…. Midrash Bereishit Rabba comments that: “On the same day [Noah] planted – on that day [Noah] drank, and on that day [Noah] was disgraced.” Ostensibly, the midrash was imagining that God, seemingly feeling sorry for all that Noah experienced in the flood and its aftermath, wanted to help Noah make a new start. And so, God enabled Noah to plant the vineyard and reap its fruits and make the wine, all in one single day! How sad, that this kind of help backfired…Yet, how instructive.

How many times are we tempted to take “shortcuts” when we feel the pressures of life bearing down on us? How many times do we try to create “shortcuts” for our children, thinking that we are helping them? I am reminded of the book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee in which Wendy Mogel writes about letting our children learn from their experience….

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror