Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat Shemot Stand Up for What Is Right!

Dear Friends,

It’s often hard to decide when to act and when to let something slide….  In our weekly Torah portion, Shemot, we read of Pharaoh’s decree to drown the newborn baby boys, born to the Israelite people in Egypt.  Joseph died and was forgotten.  The good that Joseph had done for Egypt was, seemingly, a thing of the past.  What remained was the fear that the Israelites would outnumber the Egyptians and overtake the Land of Egypt.  And the future was bleak, at least for the foreseeable future.

In the face of Pharaoh’s decree and the uncertainty of the times, the midwives stood up for what was right.  They disobeyed Pharaoh – refusing to drown the baby boys.   Instead, though their acts of “civil disobedience” placed them in mortal danger, they stood up for life and for justice.

This weekend we honor the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  The call to stand up for what is right is not a thing of the past.  We are yet faced with moments when we are called upon to decide whether we too will take the necessary steps to do the right thing or not.

May our Torah portion and our remembrance of the sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and of so many of his followers, remind us of the power of individuals to make a difference for the good.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Vayechi What Are We Waiting For…

Dear Friends,

What are we waiting for….When does the life we hope to live actually begin?

Traditionally, Jews are always aware of what is not yet completely perfect in ourselves and in the world around us.  Traditionally, Jews are waiting for the Messianic era and anticipating a time when a true, lasting and pervasive peace will envelop the world.

Nevertheless, Judaism teaches us to live our lives in the fullest way possible; to live in the present with an eye toward the future.

Our parsha begins with the Hebrew words: “Vayechi Yaacov...”  [Jacob lived…].  The continuation of our parasha is the narrative of Jacob’s life in Egypt.  It is the story of the last 17 years of Jacob’s long, action-packed, life.

Perhaps, the words “Vayechi Yaacov” point to Jacob’s own personal sense that when he was reunited with Joseph in Egypt, for the first time in his life, Jacob felt that he was “truly alive.”

Perhaps, not only for Jacob, but for us as well, it is so easy to live life waiting for something that we have not yet attained.  It is so easy to put off doing things because we are not yet where we want to be in life…But, in reality, our “true life” is happening all the time!

What are we waiting for…?  May our lives be filled with a sense of blessing for the present as well as hope and inspiration for the future!

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat VaYigash Shepherds at Heart

Dear Friends,

Have you ever wondered why our ancestors were shepherds?  Have you ever wondered why Moses was a shepherd?  Why Rachel was tending the flocks of her father when Jacob first saw her?  Why, in our weekly Torah portion, Joseph instructs his newly re-united family to present themselves to Pharaoh in Egypt, as shepherds?

Some thoughts on this question….Sheep are very vulnerable.  Shepherding requires awareness of the responsibilities for the life of the sheep!  Shepherding also allows us to appreciate nature.  Shepherding teaches us patience.  And…Shepherding affords us time to relax and to think!

As we learn to be responsible for lives of sheep, we also learn to take responsibility for the lives of vulnerable human beings.  We learn to enjoy the beauty of creation while also appreciating the potential threats that surround us and our sheep.  And…we learn that we need to take time for ourselves and allow our minds to wander.  We learn that we need to allow creativity to unfold from within our very souls.

I wonder….To what degree are we still shepherds, or at least shepherds at heart?

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror