Tidbits of Torah


Shabbat Parashat Naso Count Me In! June 2, 2023 - 14 Sivan 5783

2023-06-02 12:36:31 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us for services this Friday night and Shabbat as we celebrate the bat mitzvah of Netta Marziano.  Mazal Tov to Netta and to her whole family!

We have recently concluded the counting of the Omer and celebrated that culmination with the holiday of Shavuot.  Going forward, we rely on the spiritual strength of having counted each day for 50 days, numbering them one by one, as we continue with our lives until next year….And yet, we retain the awareness of counting through the weekly Torah portion of Naso which begins with the census of the Levites.  This week our Torah reading focuses our attention on the counting of people rather than on the counting of days!

Our Torah portion outlines the variety of ways in which our ancestors served as participants in the quest for holiness in Jewish life and in Jewish community.  Centered around the Sanctuary, each tribe had a part to play.  Each family within each tribe had a role.  Each person contributed to the overall project of sustaining our covenant with God and making it a living blueprint for continued connection, dedication and joy in Jewish living and in Jewish community.

This Shabbat, Netta joins the adult members of our community, leading services, reading Torah and chanting Haftarah, and speaking words of Torah, affirming her place among us in the Rodef Sholom Temple community and in the Jewish community around the world.

May this Shabbat be a sign of blessing to us at Rodef Sholom Temple and to all of our people everywhere as each one of us says with full heart: “Count Me In!”

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Shabbat Parashat B'Midbar Shabbat Machar Chodesh Shabbat Mevarekhim HaChodesh Preparing for Shavuot and for Confirmation! May 19, 2023 - 29 Iyyar 5783

2023-05-19 18:24:25 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us for services this Friday night to celebrate our New Members and our Religious School Teachers and Bar/Bat Mitzvah Tutors!  Our Religious School Teachers and our Bar/Bat Mitzvah Tutors do such outstanding work with our youth!  Yasher koach to all of them!

This Shabbat morning we will be reciting the special prayer for the upcoming new Jewish month of Sivan.  Rosh Chodesh Sivan will be on Saturday night and Sunday.  May it be a month of joy and of blessing.

We will be preparing for Shavuot which will begin on Thursday night on this coming week.  The traditional preparations for Shavuot begin with Eruv Tavshilin.  When the holiday begins on Thursday night, we are permitted to cook on the holiday for that day, but not for Shabbat.  To prepare cooked food on Thursday night or Friday for Shabbat we begin the process on Thursday afternoon.  Before candle lighting on Thursday, we take two prepared foods, such as a hard boiled egg and a slice of challah, and recite the blessing:

Barukh attah Adonai, eloheynu melekh ha-olam, asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu al mitzvat eruv. 

Then, we add: “By means of this combining (eruv), we are permitted to bake, cook, warm, dindle lights, and make all the necessary preparations for Shabbat during the festival (yom tov), we and all who live in this city/locale.”

We set aside the two prepared foods for eating on Shabbat during the day.  Having done this, we may complete the cooking for Shabbat on the festival day.

We also need to prepare a flame in advance of the festival so that we use an existing fire for cooking or other purposes (such as candle lighting on Friday night) on the festival day.  To this end, we prepare a flame (candle or pilot light) that will be lit before candle lighting on Thursday night that will continue to burn until it is time to light candles on Friday night.

On Thursday and on Friday nights, two blessings are recited at candle lighting:

Barukh attah Adonai, eloheynu melekh ha-olam, asher kiddeshanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hadlike ner shel yom tov.

Barukh attah Adonai, eloheynu melekh ha-olam, shehecheyanu v’kiyemanu v’higianu lazeman ha-zeh.

Looking ahead, a week from now on Friday night, the second night of Shavuot, we will be celebrating not only Shabbat and Shavuot, but also Confirmation!  I hope you will all join us for that Friday night service as we celebrate with our two Confirmands, Brad Rubenstein and Reece David, and their families.  Mazal Tov to Brad and to Reece and to their families!

Moving toward Shavuot, we continue counting the Omer, and tonight we will count the beginning of the day which comes after day 43, in the Omer count.
Appreciating each day, and anticipating good days ahead – the counting of the Omer adds a wonderful dimension to our spiritual lives.  I look forward to counting together with you tonight.

May we enjoy our days and anticipate the satisfaction of lives well lived, as we move into the final week of the counting of the Omer!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Shabbat Parashat Tazria and Metsora Rosh Chodesh Iyyar Day 2 Israel and Community April 21, 2023 - 1 Iyyar 5783

2023-05-01 17:09:02 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

Believe it or not….This coming week, Israel is celebrating her 75th birthday!  Mazal Tov to us all!

We will be having a special Israeli foods dinner tonight after Kabbalat Shabbat services with an Israel trivia game included as part of the evening’s celebration.  Join us!

On Sunday the UJCVP will be holding an Israel 75th celebration from noon to 3 pm.  I hope to see you there as well.

And, this Shabbat is not only Shabbat School, but also Rosh Chodesh Iyyar!  So many reasons to be at services on Shabbat morning.

Our double Torah portion of Tazria and Metsora revolve around the moments in which we feel more, or less, connected with the a sense of holiness.  Throughout the double Torah reading we learn of times when we are personally “in touch” with all that we hold dear – moments of fulfillment and of gratitude when we feel more in tune with the Temple, with the people, and with our ultimate goal of maintaining a spiritual community, appreciative of our sacred values and headed toward the Promised Land and a more fully redeemed world.

But, sometimes, the Torah reminds us, we may feel farther away from our roots.  That is precisely when we need others to prompt us to turn our attention back to community, to Torah, to the values and to the journey we share.   These too, are moments of holiness, when we remember that we are here to support one another throughout all the ups and downs of life.

I hope to see you this Friday night, this Shabbat morning, and on Sunday, as we show our connection to one another, to our history, to our youth, to our congregation, to our community, and to Israel!  Let’s celebrate with full hearts and let’s remind our friends that they too can enhance the moment and the celebration by virtue of their presence in our midst.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov and Chag Atzmaut Sameach [Happy Israel Independence Day]!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Shabbat Parashat Acharei-Mot/Kedoshim The Quest for Holiness April 28, 2023 - 8 Iyyar 5783

2023-05-01 16:06:58 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

Our double Torah portion includes the parsha of Kedoshim [Holy].  The quest for holiness is ongoing and complex.  Only God is “fully” holy.  As human beings, we can only strive to achieve levels of holiness; to hold onto them or we to rise up in our levels of holiness.

Parashat Kedoshim includes various ways in which our lives may embody holiness. Surprisingly enough, those ways are not only ritualistic.  We learn, from the jumble of mitzvoth mentioned in Kedoshim, that he ways of holiness extend beyond the realm of prayer, beyond keeping Kosher, beyond daily reminders of our gratitude to God.   The ways of holiness extend to our relationships with people, to our business practices, and even to our embracing of a system of justice within our communities.  Holiness is the goal.  Our rituals are reminders of that goal.  In our day to day lives, our actions are a reflection of the value we ascribe to the goal of living lives of holiness.

Holiness is not only the province of the priests, of the Sanctuary, and of the extraordinary days of our lives.  Holiness is an everyday endeavor – a constant challenge toward which we climb, as best as we can, day by day. Torah and mitzvoth are our roadmaps and we strive to stay on track!

May all our “treks” lead us upward and guide us toward greater holiness and greater blessing!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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Shabbat Parashat Vayikra Can You Take This Call? March 24, 2023 - 3 Nisan 5783

2023-03-24 14:38:27 RST Web Admin

Dear Friends,

I hope you will join us this Friday night and Shabbat morning as we celebrate the bar mitzvah of Levi Lacey.  Mazal Tov to Levi and to his entire family!

This Shabbat we are reading the beginning of the third book of the Five Books of Moses, Leviticus, or Vayikra as it is called in Hebrew.  The opening words of the parsha, “Vayikra el Moshe” [And God called to Moses] set the tone for the entire book of Leviticus.  God calls us to imbue our rituals with meaning, with ethical messages, with love, and with connection.  Whether we are Moses, or not, we are constantly being called.  The question is:  Can You [or will you] Take This Call?

How often do we hear the phone ring and consider whether we want to respond or not?  Do we recognize the caller ID?  Do we want to relate to the caller?  Would we rather let the caller leave a message so that we can decide whether or how to respond at some later time?

The Torah is God’s voice calling out to us as filtered through the lens of generations of Sages who “took the call” and grappled with the message of Torah.  Will we take the call?  Will we enter into a discussion with God and with our sacred tradition?

This Shabbat, Levi Lacey will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah.  Let us support Levi and his family as he takes the call, for the first time, as a Jewish adult  member of our congregation.  Let us listen to Levi’s words of Torah as he discusses the meaning of Torah.  Let us celebrate a new generation of Jewish people who want to embrace our tradiition and highlight its eternal relevance.

And, may we be blessed with many simchas, individual and communal, this Shabbat and in the coming days and weeks.

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Gilah Dror

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