Tidbits of Torah

 

Tidbits of Torah

2018-06-15 13:13:13 RST Web Admin

Shabbat Parashat Korach

First Bar Mitzvah in Our New Temple!   

June 16, 2018 – 3 Tammuz 5778 

Happy Father’s Day Weekend!

Dear Friends,

What a joy to be celebrating our first congregational bar mitzvah in our new Temple!

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

Significantly, our Temple is called Rodef Sholom [Pursuing Peace].  And, in the lettering over the entrance to our Sanctuary, we see the Hebrew words: “Ohev Sholom; Rodef Sholom [Loving Peace; Pursuing Peace].”

In the Mishnah (Avot 1:12) we read Hillel’s teaching:

“Be one of Aaron’s disciples – “…Ohev Sholom v’ Rodef Sholom…” loving peace and pursuing peace, loving human beings, and inviting them into the world of Torah.

In this week’s Torah portion, Korach, we read about how our people rebelled against God (yet again), and about how they were punished by a widespread plague.  What saved our people from being completely wiped out?  The Torah tells us that when Aaron, the High Priest, saw what was happening, he ran forward and stood on the dividing line between the living and the dead.  Aaron placed his life on the line as he stood there.  And, the Torah tells us that thanks to Aaron’s personal dedication, the plague stopped.

It is such an interesting teaching.  It is Aaron, the High Priest, who loves peace, pursues peace, loves human beings, and brings them closer to Torah, and who also puts his personal life on the line for the sake of our continued survival as a people whose name we recall when we call ourselves: “Rodef Sholom Temple.”

Aaron reminds us that each one of us can determine the future of our Temple, and of our people, and of our congregation.  Each one of us, by our personal involvement, can affect the course of history for ourselves and for the generations to come!

As we celebrate our first bar mitzvah in our new Temple, may we remember the teaching of Aaron, the High Priest, and may our Rodef Sholom Temple family be rewarded with the blessings of many more simchas in our time and in future generations as well!

Wishing you and your loved ones Shabbat Shalom and a very Happy Father’s Day!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-06-08 15:17:00 RST Web Admin

Shabbat Parashat Shelach Lekha

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh 

Past, Present and Future!   

June 9, 2018 – 26 Sivan 5778 

 

Dear Friends,

 

Tidbits of Torah is back!  We are in the new building of Rodef Sholom Temple…almost set up…still working on getting re-organized…still working on completing various parts of our Temple…still in awe of the marvelous Dedication Weekend we enjoyed together!

We look back and appreciate the gifts of those who came before us and of those who are contributing to the life of our shul and community day in and day out.  We take stock of where we are today.  And we look forward to the future with the knowledge that where we go as a congregation from now on is really up to each and every one of us.

Sadly, we have already had the first funeral in our new Temple.  Joyously, we look forward to the first bar mitzvah in our new Temple which is set for just a week from now.  We are clearly on the threshold of something new as we journey forward, as a congregation, in our new Temple.

There is a wonderful Torah teaching in our Parsha that gives us insight into moments in which we stand at the threshold of something new.

We are taught that, of the twelve scouts that were sent to “preview” the Promised Land, only Caleb son of Yephuneh took the time to visit Hebron and the Cave of Machpelah.  The Cave of Machpelah was where the majority of our patriarchs and matriarchs were buried.  It is a holy site to this day.

It was that visit that gave Caleb the courage to stand up, alongside Joshua, and speak out against the majority of the scouts, proclaiming his belief that the children of Israel would do well to follow God directly into the Promised Land.   And, it was that courage that earned him the privilege of entering the Promised Land 40 years later, along with the newer generations of Israelites.

Caleb went to Machpelah and contemplated his past.  From that visit, he garnered courage, strength and inspiration.   Thanks to his unique way of “processing” his special visit to his past, he was able to respond nobly in real time in a most challenging situation.  And, his response, earned him great blessing later in his life.

This teaching can be especially moving as we stand on the threshold of something new. And, we can apply this teaching every day in our prayers as we continue to move into our new Temple.

How so?

Each time we recite the Amidah, we begin by referring to our God, and the God of our ancestors.  If we allow ourselves to savor the moment, reciting the beginning of  the Amidah can be, for us, like a mini-visit to Mashpelah.  It can be a moment in which we reflect on our past.  It can be a moment which inspires us in our present, as Caleb was inspired in his present.  And, it may be a moment that foreshadows great blessing in our future, as well!

Especially as we stand on the threshold of something new, we become keenly aware that past, present and future are tied together by invisible lines of connection. May they all be for a blessing.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

P.S. This Shabbat we recite the blessing for the new Jewish month of Tammuz.  Rosh Chodesh Tammuz will be on Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday of this coming week.  May it be a month of blessing and of joy!

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-05-18 14:30:08 RST Web Admin

Shabbat Parashat Bemidbar

and Shavuot (Sunday and Monday) 

Wilderness Training    

May 19, 2018 – 5 Sivan 5778 

 

Dear Friends,

I confess that I have never done any wilderness training.  Nevertheless, the concept of wilderness training is fascinating.

This morning I did a cursory internet search for “wilderness training.”  My internet search turned up descriptive phrases such as: enhanced connection with nature; aid in emergencies; self-sufficiency; outdoor leadership; and, greater health to you, your community, and the earth.   It is wonderfully life-affirming!

I was struck by the fact that the Hebrew name of this week’s Torah portion is Bemidbar, (literally: in the Wilderness)!  As our people wandered in the Wilderness, they received the precious gift of Torah.  And, as we study Torah, we might well describe Torah as “wilderness training.”

How so?

Torah teaches us to connect with nature and to appreciate God’s creative powers.  It helps us to be aware of how we, too, can create wondrous things in life.  It gives us strength and knowledge that enable us to deal with emergencies.  It encourages each one of us to find sufficient inner strength so that we may stand up to the challenges of our times.  It reminds us to be individuals and leaders dedicated to bringing greater health to our lives as individuals, as part of a community, and as inhabitants of the earth.

This Shabbat we will read Parashat Bemidbar and we will conclude the counting of the Omer.

On Sunday, we will celebrate Shavuot – the holiday that reminds us that, in ancient times, we received Torah, on Mount Sinai, in the Wilderness.  And, that Torah is still relevant and life-affirming.  We will read the Ten Commandments and we will celebrate with our adult bar and bat mitzvah group!  Please come and join us!

On Monday, we will celebrate the second day of Shavuot and Yizkor will be recited.

I look forward to celebrating Shabbat and both days of Shavuot with you!

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach!

 

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-05-11 13:21:48 RST Web Admin

Shabbat Parashat B’har-B’chukotai

Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh

Proclaim Liberty in the Land

May 12, 2018 – 27 Iyyar 5778

Dear Friends,

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

Our weekly Torah portion contains one of the most famous Biblical verses – a verse which is inscribed on the Liberty Bell! “Proclaim liberty (in Hebrew: dror) in the Land, for all its inhabitants” (Leviticus 25:10).

But, why does the verse say: “Proclaim liberty in the Land, for all its inhabitants?” Wouldn’t it have made more sense if the verse had said: “Proclaim liberty in the Land, for all the slaves?” Aren’t the slaves the ones who need to be liberated?

The answer lies in an extraordinary teaching that highlights the Torah’s understanding of the concept of true liberty. According to that teaching, when the Torah says: “Proclaim liberty in the Land, for all its inhabitants”, the Torah is suggesting to us that as long as slavery exists in any society, both the slaves and the masters are in need of liberation. In other words, true liberty can only exist in society when slavery no longer exists. And, until that time, all the inhabitants of society – masters and slaves alike – are not truly free.

What an insightful teaching for us to contemplate as we read this, and more, in our very precious weekly Torah portion!

This Shabbat we will also recite the prayer for the upcoming new Jewish month of Sivan. Rosh Chodesh Sivan will be on Monday night and Tuesday of this coming week. May it be a month of joy, of blessing and of peace!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Tidbits of Torah

2018-05-04 13:17:30 RST Web Admin

Shabbat Parashat Emor

One Day at a Time…

May 5, 2018 – 20 Iyyar 5778

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us this Friday night as we celebrate Confirmation! Our three confirmands are Reilly David, Dahvi Hochman and Jordan Phillips. Mazal Tov to our confirmands and to their families!

Our Torah portion, Emor, reminds us that we are now in “counting mode.” We are counting the Omer each day since the second night of Passover. We are more than half way through the 50 days that connect Passover and the story of our Exodus from Egypt to Shavuot and the story of our receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.

As we count, we notice that each day has significance. Each day has a unique number. Each day represents a step along the path of our lives and along the path of our people’s life. Through the counting of the Omer, our journeys are linked with the journeys of our ancestors.

Counting each day takes patience. And, as we mark Confirmation, this Friday evening, we realize that our confirmands have stayed the course after their bar and bat mitzvahs. They have continued to take steps forward on a path of developing their Jewish identities. Their journeys have required not only patience, but also perseverance! And, we are proud to be able to celebrate with them!

As we celebrate this Shabbat, and Confirmation, may we appreciate each and every day of our lives to the fullest!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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