Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat Bo All Together Now! January 27, 2022 – 6 Shevat 5783

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us at services this Shabbat as we celebrate the bat mitzvah of Jordan Coltrain.  Mazal Tov to Jordan and to her entire family!

Finally!  We can all be together again in person and on Zoom!  And, thankfully, we can celebrate a bat mitzvah together!   What a blessing!  But, it is more than a blessing.  It is the way of our people.  We are supposed to be together – young and old, women and men, girls and boys, especially in prayer!

When Moses was negotiating the release of our people from slavery, he insisted that not only the men would go to worship God, as Pharaoh had suggested, but that we would all go, together – men, women, young and old. This is who we are.  This is the same community that later stood together at the foot of Mount Sinai to receive the Torah!

As we celebrate a bat mitzvah, we reconnect to the essence of our Jewish community.  We come together, all of us, as one.  United, yet individual – each soul created in the image of God and reflecting the marvel of creation.   All of us together, reflecting the power of connection and of community!

As Moses said…All together now!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Va’era Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh Soul Stretching January 20, 2022 – 28 Tevet 5783

Dear Friends,

How often do we get up in the morning and feel a natural need to stretch our muscles?  Naturally, since we have not used them much when we were asleep, we need to “warm up” and to “stretch” our bodies in order to feel ready to take on the new day.

The same is true for our souls!

Our weekly Torah portion tells us that the Israelites didn’t respond to Moses and Aaron’s call to freedom because of two things: Kotzer Ruach [often translated as “impatience”] and Avodah Kashah [hard work].

Literally, in Hebrew, the words Kotzer Ruach mean shortness of spirit or shortness of soul.   In order to refresh our bodies, we need to stretch.  In like fashion, we must refresh our souls and stretch our spirit in order to appreciate our potential to cope with the ups and downs of life.

The Israelites were mired in their slavery.  They were not only oppressed physically, but also spiritually.  Their souls were “shortened”; their vision was narrowed.  When Moses and Aaron first approached them, they could not see a way forward toward freedom.  It was first and foremost because of Kotzer Ruach, and only secondly because of the Avodah Kashah, the hard physical work they were forced to do.

We are most often aware of our need to stretch our bodies.  But, how often do we notice when our souls are in need of “stretching”?

The story of the Exodus reminds us that “soul stretching” is of prime importance in our personal as well as in our communal lives.

This Shabbat we will be reciting the Blessing of the New Jewish Month.  Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be on Sunday night and Monday of this coming week.  May it be a month of health, of happiness and of peace and, most especially, a month of “soul stretching”!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Vayechi Blessing and Being Blessed January 6, 2022 – 14 Tevet 5783

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us for services and events this weekend as we welcome our ISJL program associate, Sophie Bernstein!

As I was reading this week’s parsha, Vayechi [and he, Jacob, lived…]  I noticed that in describing the end of Jacob’s life,  the Torah tells us that Jacob decided to gather his children and bless them.   But, the first thing that he said to them was that he felt that he himself had been amply blessed by God in his own life!

A sense of blessing is a gift that can be honed and developed through spiritual practice.  This weekend, we will have the opportunity to explore the sense of blessing as it may have applied to our ancestors, and as it may apply to our own lives and to our communal life as well….Join us to explore our heritage and to experience our communal Shabbat and weekend!

I believe that you will find it to be a blessing!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror