Tidbits of Torah

Tidbits of Torah

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Tidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat Terumah
February 16, 2013 – 6 Adar 5773

Dear Friends,

Where is God to be found in our world?

That is the central question of our weekly Torah portion of Terumah [contribution] that tells of the contribution of our people to the building of the Tabernacle, the Sanctuary, in the desert.

But, that same question may be asked in regard to our lives today…Where is God to be found in our world?

Our Torah portion reminds us that all the Israelites were active participants in creating the sacred space that would travel with them, and remain with them, at the center of their encampments, during the forty year trek in the desert as they made their way from Egypt toward the Promised Land.

Some say the Tabernacle was built and placed at the center of the Israelite camp as a reminder to our people that, despite our failings, God has not abandoned the world.   And then as now, even after the sin of the Golden Calf, we can always find ways to connect with God and with holiness.

A close reading of Torah reveals to us that there are, not one, but three points of access that have the potential to connect us with holiness.  These points of access are non other than the arenas of time, of space, and of the human soul.

Through Shabbat and festivals, we sanctify time and strengthen our connection to higher ideals and values.

Through our dedication and contribution to synagogues, and to “spiritual spaces” in our lives, we sanctify space in a way that adds meaning and depth to our lives.

And, by living a life of mitzvot, we dedicate our selves to a life that makes us true partners with God in bringing greater blessing, greater justice and greater peace into the world.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Tidbits of Torah

Tidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat Mishpatim
Shabbat Shekalim
Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh
February 9, 2013 – 29 Shevat 5773    featured-tidbits

Dear Friends,

Many Americans were glued to the screen watching the Super Bowl this week.  Some really understood all the ins and outs of the game, all the plays, all the signals, all the commentary.  Some, like me, simply enjoyed the spectacle and got the basic gist of the game but not much more than that.

When the people of Israel stood at Mount Sinai and heard the Ten Commandments, they were like me, watching the Super Bowl.  They appreciated the sounds and lights that accompanied the giving of the Torah and they knew that there were Ten Commandments which they were to follow.  But, they didn’t understand how it all would play out in real life.  They hadn’t been taught all the signals and they were not privy to the commentary that would enable them to translate the Ten Commandments into an exciting way of life that could be truly uplifting and motivating from then on.  In fact, Moses needed to immerse himself in the process of receiving the Torah for forty more days and nights on Mount Sinai before he was ready to come back down to the people and to begin transmitting it all to Joshua, to the elders, and to all the people of Israel.

In our weekly Torah portion of Mishpatim, we begin to see more of the ins and outs of Torah.   Our vision of Torah, detailed in principles and in rules for making the world a better place, coupled with the commentary which Moses and our Sages transmitted to us, enables us to understand better what Torah has to offer us as Jews and as Americans.

We can be truly proud that our Torah outlines a hands on approach to fulfilling the vision of our prophets –  a world of justice, of mutual understanding, of respect for life, and of lasting peace.  These ideals do not spring to life of themselves.  We are guided by Torah to seek the opportunities to further these ideals in the details of our everyday life.

From the heights of Mount Sinai, to the details of Jewish living, we can be thankful for our tradition and for the many opportunities Jewish learning opens up for us to imbue our lives with holiness and with meaning, each and every day of our lives.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

P.S. This Shabbat we will recite the blessing for the new Jewish month of Adar.  Rosh Chodesh Adar will be on Saturday night, Sunday and Monday.  May it be a month of goodness and of blessing for all!

Tidbits of Torah

rst stained class window

Tidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat Yitro
February 2, 2013 – 22 Shevat 5773

Dear Friends,

Why am I so proud of our Shabbat Schools? For a combination of reasons….

First of all, our Shabbat School services are truly an inter-generational spiritual experience!

Although, as a rule, students lead much of the service, there are times when parts of the service are led by our adult participants. Our students are not isolated in a separate student minyan. They do get to have some separate time with their teachers during the service, but they also get to participate and to lead parts of the service for all of us.

Secondly, Shabbat School involves preparation on the part of our students, as well as on the part of our dedicated teachers and on the part of Tess Goldblatt, our gifted Education Director.

Best of all, the Shabbat School service provides excellent preparation for our students for their lives beyond Confirmation. As they “graduate” from our formal Jewish education program, our students will feel comfortable in any synagogue or Jewish community around the world because at Shabbat School, and in preparation for Shabbat School, our students become immersed in Jewish tradition and practice. That preparation is priceless!

Our Torah portion of Yitro includes the story of our people receiving the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai.

Torah tells us that men, women, and children, young and old, all gathered together at the foot of Mount Sinai. It was an amazing inter-generational spiritual moment for our people that is echoed in our Shabbat School experiences at Rodef Sholom Temple.

The Torah also tells us that the people had to prepare for that special moment at Mount Sinai. Yet, even as Moses was on the mountaintop for the first time, the people sinned by creating the Golden Calf. After pleading for the people, Moses returned to Mount Sinai and brought down the second set of tablets. These differed from the original tablets in that, this time, Moses participated in the writing of the Ten Commandments rather than simply receiving the tablets from Above.

Moses’ participation in the writing of the second set of tablets points to the power of participation in helping all of us to absorb and to internalize the messages of the Torah.

Inter-generational programs and prayers, as well as preparation and participation are the key to lifelong involvement and to lifelong commitment to Jewish life and to Jewish values. And, all of these elements come together in our Shabbat Schools….Now you know why I am so proud of our Shabbat Schools!

So, come join us for this week’s Friday night service and don’t miss the joy of our Shabbat morning services which will include Rodef Sholom Temple’s Shabbat School as well this week!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror