Tidbits of Torah

 

Shabbat Parashat B'Shalach Shabbat Shirah Singing in the Rain! February 3, 2022 - 13 Shevat 5783

2023-02-03 16:47:37 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

How long should we wait before we sing a joyous song?  Should we wait until the world is perfect?  Should we wait until all injustice and misfortune are defeated?  If we did, we might never get a chance to sing!  Of course, the old favorite song, “Singing in the Rain” gives us a hint…Even when the weather is less than ideal, we are invited to sing!

Our Torah portion includes the Song of the Sea – Moses’ and the children of Israel sang, even as the enemy forces that were determined to obliterate them were drowning in the Sea.  We are taught not to rejoice at our enemy’s downfall especially because we affirm that all human beings are created in the image of God.  But, we are also taught to rejoice when we realize that, despite the dangers of life, we have been spared and we have been allowed to live to celebrate another day!

At a Jewish wedding ceremony, we rejoice with singing and dancing at our simcha [our joyous ocassion].  Yet, we also incorporate the breaking of a glass during the wedding ceremony to remind us that not everyone is rejoicing at this very moment in time.

Perhaps we emphasize the singing and the dancing at our joyous ocassions precisely because we are aware of human frailty and of the fragility of life!

Interestingly, in our Torah portion of B’Shalach, we read the Song of the Sea, and continue to tell the story of the Exodus which is replete with many trials and tribulations that continued to plague our people in the desert.  Yet, in our morning prayers, we recite the Song of the Sea, and not the verses that recount the many subsequent complaints of our people.

In setting the tradition of daily repetition of the Song of the Sea in our morning prayers, we are reminded that although the ultimate redemption has yet to become a reality and despite the fact that we are all engaged in trying to move our world toward that ultimate goal – we are strongly encouraged to “sing in the rain” even as we continue to strive for a more complete redemption of our world.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Posted in: Tidbits of Torah Read more... 0 comments

Shabbat Parashat Bo All Together Now! January 27, 2022 - 6 Shevat 5783

2023-01-27 14:01:40 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us at services this Shabbat as we celebrate the bat mitzvah of Jordan Coltrain.  Mazal Tov to Jordan and to her entire family!

Finally!  We can all be together again in person and on Zoom!  And, thankfully, we can celebrate a bat mitzvah together!   What a blessing!  But, it is more than a blessing.  It is the way of our people.  We are supposed to be together – young and old, women and men, girls and boys, especially in prayer!

When Moses was negotiating the release of our people from slavery, he insisted that not only the men would go to worship God, as Pharaoh had suggested, but that we would all go, together – men, women, young and old. This is who we are.  This is the same community that later stood together at the foot of Mount Sinai to receive the Torah!

As we celebrate a bat mitzvah, we reconnect to the essence of our Jewish community.  We come together, all of us, as one.  United, yet individual – each soul created in the image of God and reflecting the marvel of creation.   All of us together, reflecting the power of connection and of community!

As Moses said…All together now!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Posted in: Tidbits of Torah Read more... 0 comments

Shabbat Parashat Va'era Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh Soul Stretching January 20, 2022 - 28 Tevet 5783

2023-01-20 15:43:39 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

How often do we get up in the morning and feel a natural need to stretch our muscles?  Naturally, since we have not used them much when we were asleep, we need to “warm up” and to “stretch” our bodies in order to feel ready to take on the new day.

The same is true for our souls!

Our weekly Torah portion tells us that the Israelites didn’t respond to Moses and Aaron’s call to freedom because of two things: Kotzer Ruach [often translated as “impatience”] and Avodah Kashah [hard work].

Literally, in Hebrew, the words Kotzer Ruach mean shortness of spirit or shortness of soul.   In order to refresh our bodies, we need to stretch.  In like fashion, we must refresh our souls and stretch our spirit in order to appreciate our potential to cope with the ups and downs of life.

The Israelites were mired in their slavery.  They were not only oppressed physically, but also spiritually.  Their souls were “shortened”; their vision was narrowed.  When Moses and Aaron first approached them, they could not see a way forward toward freedom.  It was first and foremost because of Kotzer Ruach, and only secondly because of the Avodah Kashah, the hard physical work they were forced to do.

We are most often aware of our need to stretch our bodies.  But, how often do we notice when our souls are in need of “stretching”?

The story of the Exodus reminds us that “soul stretching” is of prime importance in our personal as well as in our communal lives.

This Shabbat we will be reciting the Blessing of the New Jewish Month.  Rosh Chodesh Shevat will be on Sunday night and Monday of this coming week.  May it be a month of health, of happiness and of peace and, most especially, a month of “soul stretching”!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Posted in: Tidbits of Torah Read more... 0 comments

Shabbat Parashat Vayechi Blessing and Being Blessed January 6, 2022 - 14 Tevet 5783

2023-01-06 17:34:53 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us for services and events this weekend as we welcome our ISJL program associate, Sophie Bernstein!

As I was reading this week’s parsha, Vayechi [and he, Jacob, lived…]  I noticed that in describing the end of Jacob’s life,  the Torah tells us that Jacob decided to gather his children and bless them.   But, the first thing that he said to them was that he felt that he himself had been amply blessed by God in his own life!

A sense of blessing is a gift that can be honed and developed through spiritual practice.  This weekend, we will have the opportunity to explore the sense of blessing as it may have applied to our ancestors, and as it may apply to our own lives and to our communal life as well….Join us to explore our heritage and to experience our communal Shabbat and weekend!

I believe that you will find it to be a blessing!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Posted in: Tidbits of Torah Read more... 0 comments

Shabbat Parashat Vayiggash Happy and Healthy 2023 December 30, 2022 - 7 Tevet 5783

2022-12-30 13:39:42 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a Happy and Healthy 2023!  How time flies…and yet Torah teaches us to keep our spirits up and not to give up on our personal and collective dreams and vision.

This coming Tuesday is Asarah B’Tevet [the tenth day of the Jewish month of Tevet], one of the minor fasts days of the Jewish calendar.  This means that the fast begins on Tuesday morning at dawn and ends 25 minutes after sunset.  While we may or may not all observe the fast (refraining from eating and drinking), the significance of the day is still relevant to our lives.

Asarah B’Tevet marks the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem in 587 B.C.E. by the Babylonians.  Eighteen months later, the Babylonians destroyed the 1st Temple in Jerusalem, and the first exile from the Land of Israel.  Sadly, we see that destructive elements have a way of “simmering” over time.

In our weekly parsha, Vayiggash, we learn of the significance of the Land of Israel to our people.  We may notice that derivatives of the Hebrew word “aliyah” [going up] are used in relation to traveling or moving from Egypt “up” to Israel; and derivatives of the word “yeridah” [going down] are used in relation to traveling or moving from Israel “down” to Egypt.

As time moves on, we are all, personally and communally, in a state of constant motion and change.  Through it all, taking into account the ups and downs of life, we are reminded both by the fast of Asarah B’Tevet and by the carefully chosen words in our parsha of the centrality of Israel in our tradition.  Going toward Israel is considered “moving up” in the world!

May the new year of 2023 bring us many blessings, health, happiness, and change for the good.  In the new secular year, may we keep in mind the centrality of Israel and our ability to stay connected with Israel no matter where we live!

Shabbat Shalom and a Happy and Healthy 2023!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

Posted in: Tidbits of Torah Read more... 0 comments