Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat B’Shalach

Tidbits of TorahTidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat B’Shalach
Shabbat Shirah and Tu B’Shevat!
January 26, 2013 – 15 Shevat 5773

Dear Friends,

I always love Shabbat Shirah – the Shabbat of Song – because we chant both the Song of the Sea, as part of our weekly Torah reading, and Deborah’s Song, as our haftarah reading from the Prophets!

It is not so much the musicality of our ancestors that we preserve in these readings, although the poetry in both of these songs is magnificent…It is the spiritual joy that our ancestors knew how to express when wonderful events transpired to uplift them. Yes, even in the midst of uncertainty, there are moments worth raising up and noticing. There are moments worthy of celebration, of song, and of thanks!

The Song of the Sea was a preface to the 40 year struggles of our people in the desert, celebrating the miracle of the crossing of the Red Sea, and looking forward to the full redemption and to the entry into the Promised Land which had yet to come.

Deborah’s song was a reflection of the trials and tribulations associated with the settlement of the Land of Israel in the time of the Judges.

Despite the uncertainties of life, our ancestors taught us, by their example, to fully embrace opportunities to give thanks with all of our hearts for the miracles that do occur from time to time, and to look forward to spiritual and communal moments that remind us that we are not alone in the world.

This Shabbat is also Tu’B’Shevat – the Jewish New Year for trees. In the midst of winter, we anticipate the first blossoming of the trees that will soon herald the Spring…What better way to celebrate Shabbat than to look forward to another year of delicious fruits!

I wish us all a Shabbat Shalom and a very happy Tu’B’Shevat!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Bo

Tidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat Bo
January 19, 2013 – 8 Shevat 5773

Dear Friends,

Intransigence is such a powerful force in our world….

When I read the story of Pharoah, as it is told in our weekly Torah portion of Bo, I am struck not only by Pharoah’s intransigence in the face of Moses’ message to Pharoah, but also by the thought of the many times in life when we fall into a patterns of intransigence rather than letting go of things that would be best let go.

How many times have we held onto “ideals” or “principles” that have only served to divide us, to increase dissension, and to defeat the possibility of coming to a better understanding of those around us, and ultimately to stand in the way of peace…

Pharoah paid the price of intransigence.

Yet, Moses was no less adamant in his stance – repeatedly conveying God’s message: “Let my people go!”

How do we know when to hold fast to our principles, and when to let go for the sake of peace?

Our parsha, Bo, invites us to have this conversation.

Our Torah encourages us to “separate the wheat from the chaff” – to identify the ideals and the values that require our undivided loyalty and to clarify for ourselves the parameters of fair compromise and of practicality.

One thing is certain: The value of freedom, which stands firmly at the center of Torah’s message, is tied to the understanding that we are only free if we accept the right of others to enjoy freedom as well.  We are only free if we remember that all human beings are created in the image of God.

Intransigence for a good cause…that is what Torah wants us to aim for.

On this weekend, when we recall Martin Luther King, Jr. and his life’s work, I wish you a Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Shemot – Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh

Shabbat Parashat Shemot
Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh
January 5, 2013 – 23 Tevet 5773

Dear Friends,

One of the most amazing insights in this week’s action-packed Torah portion
of Shemot is the fact that redemption can sometimes come from the least
likely places….

It was Pharoah who decided that the Israelites were a threat to Egypt and
that the way to deal with them was to order the drowning of the newborn sons
in the Nile. Yet, it was Pharoah’s own daughter who drew Moses out of the
Nile and saved his life!

Reminding us that there might be some positive influences within pockets of
negativity, the Torah tells us this amazing tale about Pharoah’s daughter.

What’s the message?

Never give up hope that seeds of redemption will somehow give birth to
positive trends within our world.

Never assume that a person’s surroundings define that person or their
character.

Never give up on the younger generation.

Despite the negative forces that attempt to wreak havoc in the world, there
are heroes and leaders in the making ready to respond to the call to make
our world a better place.

This Shabbat we will recite the prayer for the upcoming Jewish month of
Shevat. Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be a week from now – on next Friday night
and Shabbat.

May it be a month of renewal, of redemption, of health and of peace!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror