Archive for January, 2018

From The Rabbi – Parshat Shmot 5778

This week we are introduced to the most famous character of all Jewish history – Moshe (Moses), the redeemer of the Jewish people from Egypt and the transmitter of Torah from Hashem.

The mystery of Moses lies in his name: Though he was named by his biological parents, he is known by the name Moses – Moshe – given to him by Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses’ mother, to save him from Pharaoh’s decree that all newborn Jewish males be drowned in the Nile, placed her three-month-old infant in a basket and concealed it in the rushes that grew along the Nile riverbank. Pharaoh’s daughter discovered the weeping child when she went to bathe in the river.

She therefore named the child Moshe (“the drawn one”), “because I have drawn him from the water” (Exodus 2:10).

Why would the great Moses be known by this strange name based on this seemingly incidental episode? The name Moses actually captures the essence of his personality: A man drawn from water.

Water is a mysterious world. Unlike land where the terrain and the creatures are visible, the contours of the sea and all its inhabitants remain submerged and concealed in an unknown universe. This distinction is not merely quantitative. The fish in the sea are dependent and connected to their very source of sustenance, while land mammals remain separate from their source; their psyches are disconnected from their life source.

The mystics explain that Moses was a “man of no words” because his soul originated from the “hidden worlds” of water, the intimate world of the unconscious, which is more profound and intense than any words of land can express. But for this exact reason Moses introduced unprecedented revelation to Earth. Precisely because Moses is a “water man” living on Earth, he is able to draw from the inner worlds and bridge and express the language of the Divine and communicate it to the land people.

The Zohar teaches that there are tzaddikim (righteous individuals) who live their entire lives as “fishes of the sea,” wholly submerged within a perpetual awareness of and subjugation to the divine reality. Moses was the epitome of these “aquatic souls.” “Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth.” He was certainly aware of his own greatness; certainly he knew that he was the single human being chosen by G-d to serve as the conveyor of the Divine wisdom and will to the human race. Yet Moses did not view his qualities as his “own” attainments, for he had utterly nullified and submerged his self within the sea of the divine reality. His own life was merely the divine plan being realized through a transparent channel; his teachings – the “Divine presence speaking from his throat.”

And that is why Moses was actually hidden in the water, and is consistently identified with water.

Thus Moses was an embodiment of paradox and contradictions. Drawn from water, Moses bridged two opposite worlds – the unconscious and the conscious, the world of spirit and the world of matter, the Divine and the human.

Outside of this world, Moses was able to transform this world and build the Holy Temple, a material home for the Divine, where “I will rest amongst you.”

Though Moses is the most famous person in history, he always remains a mystery – seemingly more at home in his 40 days in the clouds of Sinai than in his days on Earth. Even after death – by the kiss of G-d – Moses’ burial place remains unknown: “Below it appeared as though he was above and above it appeared as though he was below.”

Therein lays the secret of the enigmatic Moses: Moses was a “man of G-d.” To be a man and to be Divine is the ultimate paradox.

So, the next time you encounter a paradox in your own life or in the world around you – remember,  that paradox maybe the most natural state of a universe not fully in touch with its own essence.

I avail of myself of this opportunity to commend and say Kol Hakavod! to all our committed members and friends,who regularly attend services at the Brisbane Syangogue, during the week and on Shabbat, particularly in the current heat. You are an inspiration to us all!

As many members are away for the holiday season, please make a special effort to attend services so that we are able to maintain the Minyan, both on Shabbat and during the week.

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Shabbat and Festival Times

Fri  Sept 7th: Light Candles 5.19pm
Shabbat ends: Sat Sept 8 6.12pm

Sun  Sept 9th: Erev Rosh Hashanah Light Candles 5.20pm
Mon 10th: Rosh Hashanah Day 1 Light Candles after 6.13pm
Tues 11th: Rosh Hashanah Day 2 Ends 6.14pm
Wed 12th: Fast of Gedaliah  4.37am – 6.03pm

Fri  Sept 14th: Light Candles 5.22pm
Shabbat ends: Sat Sept 15 6.15pm

Tues 18th: Erev Yom Kippur (Kol Nidrei night) Light Candles 5.24pm
Wed 19th: Yom Kippur Ends 6.17pm

Fri  Sept 21st: Light Candles 5.25pm
Shabbat ends: Sat Sept 22 6.18pm

Sun  Sept 23rd: Erev Sukkot Light Candles 5.26pm
Mon Sept 24th: Sukkot Day 1 Light Candles after 6.19pm        Tues Sept 25th: Sukkot Day 2 Ends 6.20pm

Fri  Sept 28th: Light Candles 5.29pm
Shabbat ends: Sat Sept 29 6.22pm

Sun Sept 30th: Hoshana Rabba Light Candles 5.30pm

Mon Oct 1st: Shemini Atzeret

Tues Oct 2nd: Simchat Torah.