Archive for November, 2018

From The Rabbi – Parshat Vayeshev 5779

The dramatic story of Yosef (Joseph) captures our imagination, as one of the most captivating stories of the Torah, so much so that it was made into a popular Broadway musical production. As we read the story we cannot help but feel inspired by the incredible faith and moral courage of Yosef in the face of adversity and rejection and how he eventually rises to a position of immense power. When his brothers are confronted with the realization that the young brother they abducted has now become the viceroy of Egypt, instead of taking revenge on them and rebuking them,Yosef proclaims that it was all part of Hashem’s plan to put him in this position so that he is able to sustain his family.

We have just concluded one of our most personally challenging and well-attended JLI courses, entitled ‘Wrestling with Faith’, in which we addressed some of the fundamental issues that many struggle with regarding challenges with their faith, and of the beautiful concepts we addressed was that although we are not able to sometimes fathom the reason why we are subject to certain challenges in life, it is how we respond to them that matters most and brings out the true mettle of man. Yosef, the hero of the Parsha, this week and next, is a shining example of such an inspirational spirit.

This coming Tuesday evening, December 4, 2018, we begin praying for rain, as part of the Amida prayer, in the blessing for sustenance. May we all be blessed with abundant blessing, materially and spiritually, and may we share good news.

The illuminating festival of Chanukah commences this Sunday evening. Please see information below regarding Chanukah celebrations in Brisbane, including the Menorah lighting at the Brisbane Synagogue next Friday evening.    

Shabbat Shalom and we look forward to seeing you at Shul and at the Chanukah celebrations.

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Vayishlach 5779

Dvorah and I enjoyed the great nachas (pleasure) of attending our daughter Toba’s graduation ceremony from Beth Rivkah Ladies College last night in Melbourne.

Among the highlights of the visit, in addition of course to attending the graduation, was my meeting, in the Skybus from Melbourne airport, with a lovely young man Raphael Segal who,after enthusiastically putting on Tefillin on the bus, introduced me to his father Paul, who asked if it would be okay to video him putting on Tefillin too for inclusion in a blog he and Rafael were producing, entitled “a Year to Live”. Please see photo image below of Paul , who has kindly sent the following message for me to share with the readers of this newsletter.

“When I was faced with being told (last February), that I had bone marrow cancer, and one year to live I faced a difficult decision. Was this a terrible scary thing? It was certainly a shock… but I decided it was the greatest thing ever… I’ve been traveling the world with my son, Raphael making a documentary called One Year to Live (you can find us on FB). But the important thing is your attitude… if you take what I’d considered the worst thing in your life and believe it is the best, a gift from G-d, then your fear goes…

Be at peace… share kindness and love. Do what you can for your health right now… don’t wait for a wake up call – wake up now… and appreciate what you have and the people you Love in your life…

Love and blessings, Paul”.

It was a real blessing for me to have met Paul and his son Raphael, who is traveling next week on the Taglit (birthright) program to Israel and we extend our best wishes and blessings to Paul and Raphael for good health, happiness and prosperity.

This week we read of Yakov’s reunification and confrontation with his wild brother Esav.Just prior to their meeting  the Torah tells us a story about an enigmatic struggle which takes place in the middle of the night between Yakov and some strange character, which according to some was the sar shel esav, the angel of Esav.

What exactly was the meaning of this strange story? As we all know, every episode in the Torah is not merely a story, rather it is a blueprint for history and roadmap for life and every character in the Torah embodies a component existing within our own psyche and spiritual life.

The Torah tells us that Yakov was left alone, and a man struggled with him. If he was alone, who was this man? On a deeper level, the struggle that Yakov was experienced that night was with his own identity, he was facing the defining crises of his life, who am I? A crises that we all face at some point in our lives.

And it was at this point that Yakov’s name, his identity of Yisrael is formed. This is the origin of our name, Bnei Yisrael, Am Yisrael, Eretz Yisrael, because this very struggle is at the core of Jewish existence.

Like my new Melbourne friends Paul and Raphael who were keen to lay Tefillin in the Skybus, let’s remain proud of who we are, continue to be proud Jews. Let’s not try to emulate others, rather know our unique place and role in the world as a light unto the nations, which will enable us to hold our heads high, and be proud of our identity, faith and heritage as a Jew and valuable member of society, for which we will be respected by others. In the words of the former chief Rabbi of the British Commonwealth, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, ‘“Non-Jews respect Jews who respect Judaism, and they are embarrassed by Jews who are embarrassed by Judaism”. Am Yisrael Chai! 

Please see information below regarding Chanukah celebrations below and look out for information in the post and via email regarding Chanaukah, which commences next Sunday evening, December 2, 2018.      

Shabbat Shalom and we look forward to see you at Shul.

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe