Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat Vayetse Creating a Space for our Dreams

Dear Friends,

Our Sages realized that our spiritual life is influenced by many factors.  They sensed that prayer in the morning is inherently different from prayer in the afternoon.  And they understood that evening prayer is entirely different from either morning or afternoon prayers.

Our Sages attributed the establishment of each of the three times of prayer in the day (morning, afternoon and evening) to our three biblical patriarchs.  Abraham is credited with having initiated the morning prayers.  Isaac is credited with having inspired our afternoon prayers.  And Jacob, based on the dream of the ladder resting upon the earth and reaching up to the heavens as the angels climb up and down the ladder, is said to have laid the foundation for our evening prayers.

In the rush of our mornings, we may not be open to deep spiritual insights.  Our morning prayers are intended to remind us of our values as we prepare to begin our day.  In the afternoons, we are often still caught up in the business of our day.  But, in the evening, as our day is winding down, we have the opportunity to create a spiritual space for our dreams.  We have the opportunity to reach for the heavens.  Jacob taught us that in the evenings, we have the option of sensing more clearly the reality, the power and the truth of things that have transpired during the day.  That is what the evening prayers are all about.

May we enjoy our evening prayers and may we be inspired by Jacob’s example to find meaning and spiritual clarity in our dreams.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror

 

Shabbat Parashat Toldot Keep Up the Good Work

Shabbat Parashat Toldot

Keep Up the Good Work!
November 30, 2019 – 2 Kislev 5780
Dear Friends,

We live in an age that rewards innovation and creativity above almost everything else. We see innovation and creativity as an expression of some of the greatest qualities that human beings can display. Innovation and creativity are often associated with “vision.” And yet…

Parashat Toldot paints a picture of Isaac, our patriarch, Abraham and Sarah’s son, as a person who primarily re-dug the wells that his father had originally dug. Isaac is pictured as a person who does not innovate much. True, he gave the wells new names, but the wells were not his discoveries. The wells were not new in and of themselves. And, Isaac is not an innovator. Isaac is not a particularly creative person. Isaac is more of a person who lived in the moment and kept up the good work of his parents!

What is the message of Torah in relation to innovation and creativity?

Perhaps, having a patriarch who is less innovative and less creative than others reminds us that innovation and creativity are not the be all and end all of human spirit. Wonderful as they are, innovation and creativity are simply one form of human expression. Other forms of human expression may be equally important, valuable and worthy of emulation.

With Thanksgiving still in the air…Consider this a moment of “thank you” to those who “keep up the good work” of those who came before us. Consider this a moment of “thank you” to those who follow in the footsteps of our ancestors. Consider this a moment of “thank you”… to most of us!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Chayyey Sarah Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh Thanksgiving Blessings

Dear Friends,

One of the things that I love about Thanksgiving is that it reminds us to be grateful for the blessings we have been granted in life.  So often, we focus on what is not good in the world around us.  So often, we surround ourselves with “bad news” or with a heightened awareness of worrisome situations.  And, there is no argument that we should pay attention to the world around us and that we should work to “right wrongs” in our world.  But, at the same time, we should also focus on the blessings that surround our existence and on the good things that are a part of our reality.  And, that is what I love about Thanksgiving.  It brings the blessings back into focus.

The week’s Torah portion, Chayyey Sarah [literally: The Life of Sarah], tells us about the end of Sarah’s life and about the end of Abraham’s life.  Yet, the focus is not on the difficulties of their lives.  The focus is not on death.  Rather, the focus of the Torah portion is on the essential values they bequeathed to us.  The focus is on the future they envisioned – a future that remembers both Abraham and Sarah for the good.

Rosh Chodesh Kislev, the beginning of the new Jewish month of Kislev will be on Wednesday night, Thursday and Friday of this coming week.    This means that this year, Rosh Chodesh Kislev and Thanksgiving will coincide making Thursday a doubly festive day!

May we enjoy this Shabbat, our congregation, our community, Rosh Chodesh Kislev and our Thanksgiving celebrations and all that is good in the world around us to the fullest.

And, may we rejoice together, this Shabbat and in the days to come, even as we continue our work to make our world a place of greater and greater blessing for all.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror