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Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat Pinchas

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh 

Profound and Perplexing Pieces in Siddur Lev Shalem      

July 7, 2018 – 24 Tammuz 5778 

Dear Friends,

 

Our recent heat wave and July 4th having come and gone are clear indications that summer is upon us!   I hope that you have had an opportunity to celebrate July 4th and that you have enjoyed and will continue to enjoy the summer months!

Beginning this coming Monday, July 9th, Tidbits of Torah (and I) will be on vacation for  three weeks.  However, I take this opportunity to throw out the following two questions to you in the hopes that I will find your responses in my email inbox when I return from my vacation.

Here are the questions:

1. What is your favorite choice of a profound reading/prayer/commentary in Siddur Lev Shalem?  Please say a few words on why you chose that piece.

2.  What is your choice of a perplexing reading/prayer/commentary in Siddur Lev Shalem?  Say a few words on why you chose that piece.

In your response/s, please be sure to include the title and the Siddur Lev Shalem page number of your chosen piece/s!

Now that I got those questions out to you…I hope to see you at Friday night and Shabbat services this Shabbat!  On Saturday morning we will be blessing the new Jewish month of Av.  Rosh Chodesh Av will be on Thursday night and on Friday of next week.  May it be a month of blessing and of comfort to all.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Tidbits of Torah

 

Tidbits of Torah

2018-12-14 19:03:22 RST Web Admin
       

 Parashat Vayigash

Identity, Safety and Survival 

December 15, 2018 – 7 Tevet 5779  

 

Dear Friends,

 

There is so much that we can learn from Joseph…

 

When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt, he said: Ani Yosef [I am Joseph].

 

Retaining our identity is primary in life.  It is true for each of us as individuals.  It is equally true for us as a congregation.  We need to remember who we are and why we exist.

 

As we look at the Joseph story, we learn that along with remembering and retaining our essential identity, we also must learn to be there and to take responsibility for one another.

We read in our parsha that Joseph wanted to be sure that his brothers would not repeat the mistake of “discarding” one of their siblings when it was “inconvenient” or “unpleasant” to stay connected.  He wanted to be sure his brothers would no longer do to one another what they had done to him decades earlier.  And Joseph was assured that his brothers had learned that lesson when Judah offered to stay in Egypt, as a slave, in place of Benjamin!

 

 

As a people, we learn from Joseph that the combination of remembering and retaining our identity, and of our taking responsibility for the physical and spiritual safety of one another, has given us the strength and the capacity to survive throughout the ages.

 

 

As a congregation, we also learn from Joseph that, going forward, it is a keen awareness of our identity, along with our mutual commitment and concern for our physical and spiritual safety, that will ensure our survival and our ability to thrive as a congregation.

 

We learn that we exist because we take responsibility not only for ourselves, but for one another as well.  So, for example, following the lessons learned from Joseph, we take the time and make the effort to show up to minyan, not only for ourselves, but for others as well.

 

May our identity be enriched, our safety enhanced, and our survival ensured by our being here for one another as a caring and as a mutually supportive spiritual community!

 

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Rabbi Gilah Dror

 

 

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-12-07 15:34:18 RST Web Admin

 Parashat Miketz

Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Tevet – Day 1

Shabbat Chanukah – Day 6

Stronger Together

December 8, 2018 – 30 Kislev 5779  
 
Dear Friends,

The slogans “Stronger Together” and “No Hate” have been front and center in our minds in recent weeks as we confronted rising incidents of overt antisemitism.  These slogans represent sentiments that we share with all people, Jewish and non-Jewish, who appreciate the blessings of respect and of diversity in our communities and in our nation.

“Stronger Together” and “No Hate” also reflect a special connection between the Joseph story of our weekly Torah portion and the Chanukah story we are celebrating this week.

We often speak of the bravery and determination of the Maccabees who stood up for the right to live full Jewish lives in the face of those outside forces (the Greek Empire) who prohibited Jewish learning and Jewish living in the Land of Israel.

Nevertheless, another view of the Chanukah story asserts that the Greeks that outlawed our religious and spiritual lives in the Land of Israel did so as a direct result of our internal Jewish factionalism, strife and hatred.  Jewish groups, acting out of hatred to other Jewish groups, “informed” on one another to outside powers. In fact, Jewish groups fought with one another.  The Greeks perceived this internal fighting as a threat against the Greek Empire!  It was our Jewish internal factionalism, strife and hatred that led to the restrictions on Jewish religious freedom in the days of the Maccabees!  It was that internal strife that led to the desecration of the Temple in Jerusalem!

Similarly, the Joseph story, which ultimately led our people into the 400 year enslavement in Egypt, was rooted in the strife and hatred that was generated between Joseph and his brothers!

Ultimately, it all worked out and we were “redeemed.”   Ultimately, we have Passover to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt, and Chanukah to celebrate the victory of the Maccabees. But, perhaps we would have been able to avoid some of the pain and destruction that our people endured both in the period of Egyptian enslavement and in the Land of Israel before the Maccabees rose up to defend our Jewish lives, if we, ourselves, had been more willing to live together in peace!

We are indeed “Stronger Together.”  We can have a world with less pain if we remember that “No Hate” applies not only to our relations with others, but also to our internal Jewish communal connections as well.  We do not have to be identical to one another in order for us to love one another, to respect one another, and to see the image of God in one another!

May we learn from our founding stories and find a path to greater light, to greater peace, and to greater joy today and in all the days to come!

Shabbat Shalom and a very happy Chanukah!
Rabbi Gilah Dror
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Tidbits of Torah

2018-11-30 19:23:21 RST Web Admin

 Parashat VaYeshev

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh

Chanukah and Us

December 1, 2018 – 23 Kislev 5779  
Dear Friends,

We live in a time of rising overt anti-Semitism.  This phenomenon is a darkness that demands our attention. There is no sense in denying it.  The reality of growing overt anti-Semitism is affecting our lives, individually and communally, in ways we may have thought impossible.  But, we must not despair!

Thankfully, there are strong and significant voices of support around us as well.

This Shabbat we will recite the blessing for the new Jewish month of Tevet.  Rosh Chodesh Tevet will be next Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.  And, as we transition from the Jewish month of Kislev to the Jewish month of Tevet, we celebrate Chanukah – the festival of lights.

This year, Chanukah is not just a festival of lights.  This year Chanukah is very much a festival of lights even as we acknowledge that there is darkness around us, threatening our most precious values.

Chanukah will begin this Sunday evening.  I hope you will join us this Shabbat as we pray for good and for blessing in the upcoming new Jewish month of Tevet.  I also hope you will join us again this weekend as we celebrate the first candle lighting of Chanukah, in community, this Sunday night at City Center.

This year,  the festival of lights comes as a stark reminder that we must face anti-Semitism with courage and with determination.  We must light the candle/s to remind ourselves of the most Jewish of all values – the value of hope and of faith in the face of darkness.

Our tradition teaches us that the world will one day be a redeemed world – a world of true and lasting respect for all human beings no matter their race, creed, religion or lack thereof!

Our tradition also teaches us that we must act as partners with God, to bring our world closer and closer to the ideal of peace which was envisioned by our prophets.

This Shabbat, let us pray for a good month ahead.  This Sunday, let us light the candles of Chanukah together.  Let us stand up proudly as Jews, alongside those who value our presence and alongside those who value the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of a diverse community.

Shabbat Shalom and a very happy Chanukah!
Rabbi Gilah Dror

 

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Messengers of Peace

2018-11-23 16:53:04 RST Web Admin

Parashat VaYishlach

Messengers of Peace

November 24, 2018 – 16 Kislev 5779

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us for services this Friday night and Shabbat morning as we celebrate the bat mitzvah of Julia Blaha. Mazal Tov to Julia and to her entire family!

Rabbi Barukh of Mezhbush shared the following thought, based on our weekly Torah portion of VaYishlach:

When you want to try to make peace with a rival, do it yourself. Do not send a messenger in your place.

This lesson is learned from the fact that the Torah tells us that Jacob sent messengers ahead when he returned to the Land after decades of being separated from his brother, Esau. He sent the messengers in an attempt to avoid a violent confrontation with Esau. Nevertheless, the Torah tells us that after hearing the words of the messengers, Esau set out to meet Jacob with a band of no less than 400 men! It was only after Jacob and Esau met, face to face, that the two estranged brothers figured out how to overcome the negative feelings of the past and to forge a new and meaningful path of peaceful familial connection.

Messengers, even angels, cannot do the work that is required to bring adversaries together and to create lasting peace between them. Only we, ourselves, can take the steps necessary to move us closer to the ideal of meaningful and peaceful connections with one another.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-11-16 15:53:11 RST Web Admin

Parashat VaYetse

Missing Moments…

November 17, 2018 – 9 Kislev 5779  
Dear Friends,
The older we get, the faster time seems to fly!  This common experience should make us cherish every moment of life.  And yet, we often find ourselves rushing from activity to activity, from task to task, from project to project.  And, in our rush, we may well be missing important moments.  We may not allow ourselves the time to see the significance of our experiences!
It happened to Jacob, our patriarch, as we are told by the Biblical story in Parashat VaYetse!  Jacob had a dream in which he saw angels walking up and down a ladder – a ladder connecting heaven and earth.  When he awakened from his dream,  Jacob was startled.   And Jacob said:  “God is here, in this moment, in this place, and I hadn’t realized it”!
How many times do we miss significant moments in our lives – moments which we may describe as “God moments” – simply because we are rushing through life rather than allowing ourselves to take our time, to dwell in the moment, and to absorb the spiritual sense of our lives?
This coming week we will have the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving.  Let us take this special time as an opportunity to reflect on the gift of life.  Let us dwell in the moment.  Let us appreciate blessings we may ordinarily overlook in our rush to accomplish task after task.  Let us be thankful for the good in the world, for the good in our lives, and for the good in many people around us!
Let us take the time to celebrate this and many more special moments in our lives!
I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very happy Thanksgiving!
Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Gilah Dror

 

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Men’s Club Kosher-for-Passover Wine Sale

The Men’s Club announces its annual Kosher-for-Passover wine sale!

There will be a wine tasting and ordering during the Purim “Shindig in Shushan” on Saturday night, February 23, 2013. The order deadline is March 1, 2013.

Checks should be made payable to the RST Men’s Club. The point of contact is Steve Meyerson at 874-8550 or steve.meyerson@cox.net