Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat VaYelech Shabbat Shuvah Transitions

Dear Friends,

This first Shabbat of the Jewish New Year, 5780, is a very special Shabbat – Shabbat Shuvah.  There are so many levels of meaning embedded in the words: “Shabbat Shuvah.”   We might say that this is the “Shabbat of Return.”   Or, perhaps we might call this Shabbat, the “Shabbat of Repentance.”  This Shabbat we are in a time of transition.  We have just moved from one Jewish year to another.  We are now moving from Rosh HaShana to Yom Kippur.  And, naturally, we are aware, more than ever, that we are moving from one chapter of our lives to the next chapter.

This is our time to reflect on our choices and on the direction we would like our lives to take in the coming year.

In our weekly Torah portion, VaYelech, we glean some insights into Moses’ awareness of his own personal transition.  Moses informs the people whom he has led for the past 40 years that Joshua is soon to take up the reins of leadership of the Israelite people.   He informs them that he himself will not cross over into the Promised Land.  Sad or disappointed as Moses may have been when he first learned that he would not accompany his people into the Promised Land, Moses now looks to the future with the assurance that his life’s work will be continued by others.  He looks to the future with the understanding that God will remain connected with our people throughout the generations.

As we celebrate Shabbat Shuvah, may our reflections be grounded in the same sense of assurance and understanding.  May our repentance be heartfelt and our return to core values uplifting.   May all of our prayers be answered for the good.  And, may we all be blessed as we continue our transition, taking our first steps into the new Jewish year of 5780.

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!
Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Nitzavim Shana Tova!

Dear Friends,

I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Shana Tova u’Metuka [a good year and a sweet year]!  May we enjoy many blessings and simchas [joyous celebrations] together.

A short and sweet message for this Shabbat and for the coming High Holy Days:

I love this week’s Torah portion especially since it always is read right before Rosh HaShana.  Our Torah portion of Nitzavim reiterates a central theme in our Jewish narrative.  Nitzavim reminds us that God entered into a Covenant with the people Israel and that the Covenant included all those who were present at that time, and all those who were not present

How can a Covenant include those who were not present at the time of its creation?

Some say, this phrase in the Torah is meant to include future generations in the Covenant.

But, some say: this is to include those whose minds were focused on the momentous moment of the creation of the Covenant, and those whose mind was wandering while the sacred Covenant was being established!

What a wonderful teaching!  We are all included.  We are all important.  Whether we focus on every moment of the prayers during the High Holy Days or whether our minds wander, we are all part of the experience of being present in a holy space, at a holy moment in time.

Looking forward to seeing you soon and to sharing the blessings, the joys, and the experiences of holiness as we greet the new Jewish year, 5780, together!

Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Ki Tetse – To Ignore Or Not To Ignore…

Dear Friends,

To ignore…or not to ignore.  That is the question!

As the month of Elul progresses, and in preparation for the High Holy Days, we are called upon to reflect on our lives.

One of the dilemmas of life these days is how to sift through all the information we receive throughout the day.  We are literally inundated with information, with news, with advertisements, with advice, with warnings, with emails, and with entertainment from morning to night.  As a result, we have very little time or patience for introspection.  Indeed, we have very little “space” for reflection.

We either make choices or we are buffeted around by whatever is thrown our way.

Our choice is: To ignore…or not to ignore.

The Torah tells us, in our weekly Torah portion:  “If you see your fellow’s ox or sheep gone astray, do not ignore it; you must take it back to your fellow. (Deuteronomy 22:1).  But, interestingly, just two verses later (in verse 3), the Torah tells us: …you will not be able to ignore it!

There’s a difference between the Torah telling us that we must not ignore something and the Torah telling us that we will not be able to ignore it!  So, why does the Torah use these two distinctly different phrases?  What’s the message?

By using the two distinctly different phrases, the Torah highlights for us that fact that if we try to ignore something that is of huge moral concern to us, in the long run, we will not be able to be at peace with ourselves.  In the long run, we will not be able to successfully ignore the things that are truly reflect our highest values.

Especially in our lives today, when we are so inundated with information, it is important for us to consciously decide what is important to us and what is not.  We need to be deliberately mindful in choosing the things that will capture and retain our attention.  We need to decide what to ignore and what not to ignore.  This is true spiritual work.

May the month of Elul, and our spiritual work, lead us to a sense of “space” and “inner peace” as we navigate our paths within the turbulence and noise of the world around us.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror