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Tidbits of Torah

2018-08-17 13:07:13 RST Web Admin

Shabbat Parashat Shoftim

Elul Reflections   

August 18, 2018 – 7 Elul 5778 

Dear Friends,

 

The Jewish month of Elul gives us time to prepare our souls for the High Holy Days.  During this month, we hear the sounds of the Shofar daily toward the end of weekday morning services.  Throughout the month, on both weekdays and on Shabbatot, we recite the Penitential Psalm [Psalm 27] twice a day.  Hearing the sound of the Shofar and reading Psalm 27 helps us to gear up toward the High Holy Days, enabling us to get the most out of the observance of Rosh HaShana and of Yom Kippur.

Elul reflections allow us to delve into the ever-evolving meaning of our lives.  They invite us to begin an annual exploration of our spiritual state in light of events and changes that have touched our lives since last year’s Holy Days.

I hope you will enjoy the following Elul reflection, forwarded to me by Rabbi Amy Levin and written by Rabbi Gerald Wolpe:

“Hineni: Send Me

Someone once cried to God: Adonai, the world is in such a mess–everything seems wrong.  Why don’t You send someone to help and change the world?

The voice of Adonai replied:  I did send someone.  I sent you!

We pray for life–we ask God for a year of health and happiness.  We cannot merely ask.

Tell the Almighty–tell the world–tell yourself:

Send me!   Hineni, here I am!  Shlacheini, send me!”

 

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-08-10 14:59:30 RST Web Admin

Shabbat Parashat Re’eh

Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Elul – Day 1 

Israel On My Mind  

August 11, 2018 – 30 Av 5778 

 

Dear Friends,

It is wonderful to have extra reasons to celebrate this Shabbat!!!  Not only is it the first day of Rosh Chodesh [the beginning of the new Jewish month] Elul, this Friday evening is also our first Barbecue and Barchu and our first Schmooze in our new Temple!  I hope you will join us!  And, Shabbat morning we will be celebrating the babynaming for Sara Traster and David Harris’ new baby!!!!  I hope you will join us on Shabbat morning as well!

With all the joys that await us at Rodef Sholom Temple this Shabbat, we will also keep Israel in mind!  Our Parsha teaches us that we will be blessed with a Promised Land in which our people will eventually enjoy true and lasting peace – both inner peace and peace with our neighbors.

This past week, Israel was barraged with over 200 rockets from Gaza.  Generally speaking, our newspapers downplayed the number of rockets, but if we read the online English news reports from Israel or speak with people who are in Israel, we will know much more than what we can discern from our local news.

Although the Biblical promise of a true and lasting peace has yet to become a reality, the good news is that the present round of hostility may possibly be over – at least for the time being.

Another piece of good news is that the spirit of Israel, and our connection to Israel, remains strong.  So much good has come to the Jewish people and to the world at large thanks to the contributions Israel has made and continues to better the lives of so many, day in and day out.

This Rosh Chodesh, as we begin the month of Elul, the month of spiritual preparation for the High Holy Days, may we keep Israel and her welfare in mind as we prepare our hearts and minds for the new Jewish year of 5779.

May we, and Israel, enjoy the blessings of joyous occasions and of true and lasting peace!

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov [a good month]!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-08-03 14:55:24 RST Web Admin

Shabbat Parashat Ekev

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh 

Remember!      

August 4, 2018 – 23 Av 5778 

Dear Friends,

Thank you to all who responded to the Tidbits of Torah asking about the most profound and/or perplexing pieces in Siddur Lev Shalem!  I appreciated your responses!

Thank you to all who filled in while I was on vacation!  You are awesome!

I returned from my vacation or, more accurately, from my stay-cation, refreshed and happy to see Rodef Sholom Temple thriving, progressing and energized by the process of re-grouping in our new location!  Yasher koach to all who have and are still contributing to this effort.

I hope you will join us for services this Friday night and Shabbat morning as we celebrate the bar mitzvah of David Dorfman.  Mazal Tov to David and to his entire family!

This week’s parsha, Ekev, emphasizes the importance of remembering.  The Torah exhorts us to remember that we, as a people, were immigrants.  While Israel is not only the Promised Land, but also our spiritual homeland, we must remember that our forefathers and foremothers were immigrants.

The Torah tells us that we were not born, as a people, in the Promised Land.  Abraham was not born in the Promised Land.  At God’s insistence, Abraham and his family journeyed from Aram to the Promised Land.   This means that our ancestors were, at first, strangers in the Promised Land.  Later, Abraham and Sarah’s descendants were enslaved in Egypt for hundreds of years.

It was in Egypt, while we were in exile and enslaved, that we became “a people.”  In the Book of Exodus, when we read about our enslavement in Egypt, the Bible refers to us, for the very first time, as an “Am” (a nation, or “a people”).

Now, in the Book of Deuteronomy, in Parashat Ekev, we are told to always remember that we were strangers in Egypt.

The Torah wants us to remember what it is like to be a stranger and an immigrant.  This remembrance is essential for us especially when we are no longer strangers or immigrants.

It is precisely when we feel “at home” that we must remember how we felt when we were not feeling comfortable in our surroundings.

That is the message of Torah.  Remember that we were strangers.  Remember that we were immigrants.  Treat strangers and immigrants with an extra measure of kindness for, if we study our Torah and our history, we will surely  recall what it was like to be in their shoes!

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Rabbi Gilah Dror

P.S.  This Shabbat we will recite the prayer for the upcoming Jewish month of Elul.  Rosh Chodesh Elul will be on Friday night, Saturday and Sunday of next week!  May it be a month of joy and of blessing!

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-07-06 14:26:48 RST Web Admin

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

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-06-29 13:10:37 RST Web Admin

Shabbat Parashat Balak

The Blessing of Connection    

June 30, 2018 – 17 Tammuz 5778

 

Dear Friends,

 

Are we, Jews, destined to be an isolated people?

Balaam, the non-Jewish Prophet, set out to curse our people but ended up blessing us with the famous words “Mah Tovu…” [How goodly are your tents, Jacob].  As Balaam looked over the Israelite camp, he also said: Am l’vadad yishkon, I see before me [A nation that will dwell in isolation].  Are these also words of blessing?

It is important for us to remember that God’s message to us was quite different from what Balaam imagined as he looked at our people and described us as an isolated people.

God’s message is that it is not desirable for any person to live in isolation from others.  And, it is also not desirable for our people to live in isolation from other people.  Conveying God’s message, our prophets spoke of the day in which many nations will walk along with us to worship God in God’s Temple in Jerusalem.

While living in isolation may, from time to time, be a reality for any of us as individuals or for our people as a whole, the ideal envisioned by our prophets was one of interaction and of cooperation between ourselves and others, both as individuals and as a nation.

May the vision and the blessings of connection sustain us all, giving us courage and hope at all times.

Shabbat Shalom!

 

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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