Tidbits of Torah

Tidbits of Torah

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Tidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat Tsav
Shabbat HaGadol
March 23, 2013 – 12 Nisan 5773

Wishing you a Wonderful and Meaningful Passover!

Dear Friends,

I’m so glad to be home after a great trip to Israel where my family and I celebrated the wedding of my daughter and my new son-in-law, Nurit and Lotem.  The weather cooperated so the chupah, which took place in Old Jaffa on an outdoor balcony overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, was amazing and the indoor celebration that followed was no less wonderful!

I feel very blessed to have been able to be a part of this simcha, and equally blessed to come home to a warm and welcoming Rodef Sholom Temple community.

Pesach is just around the corner…Sunday night we perform the traditional Bedikat Hametz [Search for Leaven] in our homes.  Monday morning we do the Bi’ur Hametz (Destruction or Burning of the Hametz) and Monday night is the first Seder!

This Shabbat, Shabbat HaGadol [The Great Shabbat], in preparation for Pesach, we read a special haftarah from the biblical book of Malakhi.   This special haftarah mentions the coming of Elijah – the prophet who is seen as the harbinger of the coming of the messianic era.  And, this, in turn, reminds us of Elijah’s cup which features prominently on the Seder table.

It is not often that we get to gather together around the table in multi-generational family groups, with friends and neighbors, to remind ourselves of the story of our people and of the unique narrative that keeps us connected throughout the generations and across borders of communities, countries and continents.

We are a people who value the story of the Exodus; who understand that there are ups and downs in life; and who remain confident that, with God’s help, the redemption from slavery that began with the story of the Exodus from Egypt thousands of years ago will ultimately lead us to a fully redeemed world.

We are a people who look forward to participating in the on-going story of redemption.

We are a people who believe that one day our world will be a place where true and lasting justice and peace will reign; and where the values, the talents and the gifts God granted each of us will be enhanced for the good of our people and for the good of all people everywhere.

Pesach is a great holiday and our collective narrative is a great narrative.  And it comes with delicious food as well!  I hope and pray that you and your loved ones enjoy it to the fullest.

Shabbat Shalom v’Pesach Kasher v’Sameach – wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and a joyous and a kosher Passover!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Torah Tidbits

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Tidbits of Torah

Shabbat Parashat Ki Tissa

Shabbat Parah

March 2, 2013 – 20 Adar 5773

Dear Friends,

Another special Shabbat awaits us; a Shabbat that turns our attention to two animals – the red heifer and the golden calf…!

This week, on Shabbat Parah, the third of four special Shabbatot that lead up to Passover, we read a special maftir which refers to the ritual of the red heifer.

Designed to spiritually purify those of us who come in close contact with the death of a human being, this ritual has perplexed Jews and Jewish scholars throughout the ages.

How can sprinkling a few drops of a mixture which contains ashes of a red heifer on a person bring about that person’s spiritual purification in the face of death?  And, why does the person who does the sprinkling become spiritually impure?

Of course, one could ask the same question of many rituals we perform in life.  Rituals don’t always have a logical explanation.  Yet, they help us to confront complex situations.  They give us direction when we are spiritually at a loss to comprehend that which has happened.

Reminding ourselves of the red heifer ritual, helps us to put into perspective the various rituals we still embrace as part of our upcoming Passover celebration – rituals that help us to focus on the significance of Passover, in ancient times and now.

Our weekly Torah Portion of Ki Tissa tells of the sin of the golden calf.  How quickly after the miraculous Exodus from Egypt did our people manage to forget the significance of worshiping God and revert to creating an idol as a spiritual crutch?

But, are we spiritually that much stronger than our ancestors were?

It is so easy for us to slip into modern forms of idol worship – to rely on the comfort offered by physical objects or by material creations and acquisitions when our world seems to have been turned upside down.

The sin of the golden calf is emblematic of  the human tendency to lean on the physical rather than on God.

The red heifer reminds us that we can be there for one another even when we loose our spiritual moorings, even when we mourn the loss of a loved one.

Ki Tissa (with the golden calf) and Shabbat Parah (with the red heifer), remind us that we can help one another find our way back to God and to the values of Torah.

This special Shabbat reminds us that we can help one another return to love of life and to appreciation of the gift of life.  That is ultimately what Passover is all about.  On Passover, we will celebrate love of life, love of liberty, and love of the responsibility that goes it. And, the rituals that we will observe remind us of the spiritual wealth of our religious tradition – a tradition that puts life, not death, at the center of our awareness.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Torah Tidbits

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Tidbits of Torah
Shabbat Parashat Tetsavveh
Shabbat Zakhor
February 23, 2013 – 13 Adar 5773

A Happy Purim to All!

Dear Friends,

A bit of silliness is part of Purim…So, here’s my contribution…
How many “h” words can you associate with Purim?
Here’s my (admittedly incomplete) list:
…Purim is the Holiday
of Heroines and of Heroes;
of Hoaxes and of Hocus-pocus;
of Hissing and of Hilarity;
of Happiness and of Hope;
of Head and of Heart;
of Helping and of Healing
because…mixed in with the laughter, we remember our friends with Mishloach Manot (thanks to Jody Sarfan and all who helped organize our RST Mishloach Manot bags this year); and with Matanot La’Evyonim (gifts to those in need) we remember to increase the joy not only for ourselves but for others as well!
Okay, so I haven’t even gotten to
Hamentaschen and Humor…
I’m sure there are more great “h” words associated with Purim…Want to add to the list?

And, a bit about this Shabbat…Shabbat Zakhor [Remember], is the second of four special Shabbatot that lead up to Passover.   In addition to our regular weekly Torah portion from the book of Exodus, we read a special maftir aliyah from the book of Deuteronomy recalling the unprovoked attack of Amalek on the weak and weary Israelites as they traveled through the desert from Egypt toward the Promised Land.

The Torah exhorts us to stamp out the memory of Amalek.  In reading this special maftir, we express our hope that senseless hatred will one day cease to exist and our belief that we can contribute to making the world a better place.

On Purim, haunting echoes of the Amalek incident described in the Torah accompany the reading of the Megillah as we “stamp out” the memory of Haman and cheer on Esther and Mordecai.

In the midst of our as yet unredeemed world, Purim invites us to remain hopeful and proactive.

I hope to see you on Shabbat and also on Saturday night at our RST Megillah reading.  Let’s see how much Happiness and Healing laughter can we generate for ourselves and for others on this Purim!

Shabbat Shalom and a Happy, Happy Purim!

Rabbi Gilah Dror