Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat Tsav Shabbat HaGadol Passover Perspectives

Dear Friends,

One thing is sure….This Passover is going to be different from any Passover we have ever experienced. But, having a different Passover may just give us new perspectives on the holiday. We will have an extra zoom session during the intermediate days of Passover, after the Seder/s, and I would love to hear your stories and any new insights or perspectives you may have gained during this different Passover.

Some things don’t change. The basic story of the Exodus doesn’t change. But our telling of the story may change. Our understanding of the story may change because we are experiencing Passover even as we are experiencing radical change all around us.

This Shabbat is the final Shabbat before Passover and we read the weekly Torah Portion of Tsav that describes the mincha sacrifice – a grain offering. It was a grain offering, but it was not bread. It was unleavened grain. It was, in fact, matzah! It was the simplest form of baked food that may be used to sustain us in times of need. No fancy baking here. Just simplicity. Just the basics.

This year as Passover approaches, the matzah reminds us more than ever of those people who are in the background, taking care of us, even as most of us are staying at home. The matzah symbolizes the quiet, unassuming, almost invisible human beings – the ones who are simply doing their jobs, rather than standing out. It reminds us of the doctors, the nurses, the postal workers, the simple people whose gift to us is their unassuming dedication to helping all of us survive in this time of uncertainty. They are on the front lines, and we honor them at our Seder/s when we raise up and point to the matzah.

This Shabbat we read about the matzah in our Torah portion, and as we read the Torah portion, we prepare ourselves for a different Passover – one which will undoubtedly give us new perspectives and which will hopefully inspire us to value one another, to connect with one another, and to support one another as members of a loving and holy community.

I look forward to seeing you on the Zoom Virtual Abbreviated Kabbalat Shabbat this evening at 5:30 p.m. And I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Shabbat and a Pesah Kasher V’Sameach – a kosher and a happy Passover!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat VaYakhel-Pekudei Shabbat HaChodesh Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh Gathering Together and Keeping Track

Dear Friends,

Here we are trying to figure out ways to gather together virtually and we happen to be reading the double Torah Portion of VaYakhel-Pekudei. The Hebrew word VaYakhel means: And he (Moses) gathered the people. We have been rising to the challenge of gathering together using the technological medium of Zoom! As I mentioned on our first Zoom gathering last night, I think we may be able to legitimately call ourselves the “Zoom Jews” for the time being. Hopefully, we will be back to normal soon and this new term (“Zoom Jews”) that I coined will be all but forgotten. In the meantime, we gather together without being physically present in the same place.

The second challenge that we have at this point in time is the challenge of keeping track of one another and of our wellbeing. Amazingly, our second Torah portion is Pekudei, which in Hebrew means: keeping track. In the Bible, Moses completed the building of the Sanctuary and gave an accounting of all the elements that went into the building of the holy space. He kept track of all the things that were donated and made a point of sharing that information with the people. We, today, are charged with keeping track of one another. We are the elements that go into making our congregation a holy community. And, we are doing the best we can to account for each and every one of us during this unusual time.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me/us by phone or by email and/or to take part in our Zoom opportunities. We want to know how you are. We want to hear from you. We want to share some torah and our prayers with you. We want to be connected.

VaYakhel-Pekudei says it all. Let’s gather virtually for the time being. Let’s connect as best we can. And let’s keep track of one another because we are all valued members of our holy community.

I take this opportunity to thank all of our staff and volunteers who have been working so hard to help us meet our congregational needs under such unusual circumstances!

And…

This Shabbat is Shabbat HaChodesh. It is the last of four special Shabbatot before Passover. It falls on the Shabbat before the Jewish month of Nisan begins. The special Torah reading of the Maftir this Shabbat (Exodus 12:1-20) describes the night of the first Passover. It is an apt reminder that Passover will soon be here.

We also recite the blessing of the new Jewish month of Nisan this Shabbat. Rosh Chodesh Nisan will be on Wednesday night and Thursday of this coming week. May it be a month of joy, of good health, and of redemption!

I look forward to seeing you on the Zoom Virtual Abbreviated Kabbalat Shabbat this evening at 5:30 p.m. And I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful Shabbat!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Gilah Dror

Shabbat Parashat Ki Tissa Shabbat Parah Social Distancing and Torah!

Dear Friends,

In light of our current situation which includes recommendations of “social distancing”, I share with you a wonderful reading by Rabbi Yosef Kanevsky:

“Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place.
Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern.
Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another must become a thought as to know we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.”

Yes, we can have an aliyah to the Torah without kissing the Torah. Yes, we can have services without handshaking. Yes, we can adjust some of our customs to preserve our health and the health of those around us!

Our Torah portion of Ki Tissa begins with the census which was to be accomplished by counting the donations of a half shekel contributed by each person in the Israelite camp.

Why a half shekel?

Our Sages suggest that the half shekel is symbolic of the fact that we all play a part in the welfare of our people as a whole. Each one of us is a proverbial “half shekel.” All of us are needed and each one of us can help. But, none of us are entirely “whole” without the others. Each one of us is a “half shekel.” We are all dependent upon one another to create holy space, holiness in time, and wholeness of spirit!

Even as we practice elements of “social distancing,” may we find the way to wholeness and to holiness in community through our constructive relationships with those around us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Gilah Dror