Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat Lekh L’kha Gratitude and Blessings!

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us this Shabbat as we celebrate the bar mitzvah of Reece David.  Mazal Tov to Reece and to his entire family!  Gratitude and blessings are definitely in the air…

We also mark Veterans Day this weekend and express our gratitude for the many blessings we have been afforded thanks to the service of our veterans.

This week’s Torah portion, Lekh L’kha (Go forth), reminds us of the various journeys we undertake in life.  Most importantly, our Torah portion reminds us that our goal as Jewish people and as spiritual descendants of Abraham and of Sarah, is to be as much of a blessing as possible to those around us even as we travel the various paths of life.

Today, I share with you the following Veterans Day Prayer, written by Alden  Solovy.

Veterans Day Prayer

 G-d of compassion,
G-d of dignity and strength,
Watch over the veterans of the United States
In recognition of their loyal service to our nation.
Bless them with wholeness and love.
Shelter them.
Heal their wounds,
Comfort their hearts.
Grant them peace.

G-d of justice and truth,
Rock of our lives,
Bless our veterans,
These men and women of courage and valor,
With a deep and abiding understanding
Of our profound gratitude.
Protect them and their families from loneliness and want.
Grant them lives of joy and bounty.
May their dedication and honor
Be remembered as a blessing
From generation to generation.

Blessed are You,
Protector and Redeemer,
Our Shield and our Stronghold.

© 2011 Alden Solovy and www.tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

As we celebrate this Shabbat and Reece’s bar mitzvah, and mark Veterans Day, let us  remember to be grateful for the blessings we receive and cognizant of the many blessings we may be privileged to share with others along the journey of life.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Noach Family and Future!

Dear Friends,

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

In this week’s Torah portion, Noach, we are introduced, for the first time in the Biblical narrative, to the Hebrew word for “family” (mishpachah).  And so, it is only fitting that we should celebrate a family simcha (joyous occasion) when we read this Torah portion.

It is very interesting to me that we first encounter the word mishpachah in the Bible when we read the story of Noach and the flood.

Why do you think that the Torah uses the word mishpachah for the very first time in the context of the story of the flood?  I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this question…

For me, the fact that the epic storm story is conveyed along with the first explicit mention of mishpachah, of family, in the Bible is indicative that family can be a great source of comfort during stormy times.  It might be close family.  It might be extended family.   It might be our neighbors and our friends and it might be our people as a whole.  However we may choose to think of the concept of  mishpachah, of family, there is no doubt that feeling related to others and that being in connection with others is a powerful way to address the stresses, the storms, and the challenges of life.

It is also a very meaningful and powerful way of celebrating our most special and joyous moments!

As we celebrate this Shabbat and Yona’s bat mitzvah, let us enjoy our connections with one another and look forward to sharing this and many more family simchas and joyous events in the coming year!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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