Archive for September, 2019

From The Rabbi – Parshat Nitzavim 5779

Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) begins this Sunday evening, affording us the opportunity for Cheshbon Hanefesh, spiritual stocktaking of our most personal inventories, allowing us to reflect on successes and shortcomings in our relationships with G-d and our fellow beings.

These Days of Awe are designed to jolt us out of the tedious treadmill of the everyday. They compel us to think about life, about ourselves, about our families, and to make amends for the past and prepare for the future.

On Rosh Hashanah, among the most important traditions, is to hear the sounds of the Shofar. What is so special about these seemingly simple primitive and raw sounds?

The Shofar is blown throughout the service in various different ways. But it always follows the same pattern: We always begin by blowing a “Tekiah” – a long straight sound. This is followed by a “Teruah” (or Shevarim) – short, broken up, crying like sounds. These sounds are followed by yet another long “Tekiah“.

This is the formula: Tekiah – Teruah – Tekiah.

A great Chassidic Rabbi explained that this pattern tells the story of our life journey and expresses the power of Rosh Hashanah.

The long, smooth Tekiah is a symbol of purity, innocence and perfection. On the other hand the broken Teruah sounds are the challenges of life. They represent darkness, confusion, complication and frustration.

Our life begins with a Tekiah. We are born with a natural purity, with an untainted soul that is perfect and unchallenged. The innocence of a new born baby reflects the purity and holiness of the soul.

But inevitably, sooner or later, the long and beautiful Tekiah is replaced by the broken sounds of the Teruah. We begin to experience confusion, face difficulties, and are suddenly thrown into the ups and downs of a complicated and sometimes challenging existence.

But this is the power of Rosh Hashanah. When we begin a fresh new year, the past is not always so positive. Not everything in the last year might have been a Tekiah. But on this special day we can turn it all around. We can learn from last year’s experiences and make the future more positive. We can turn challenge into opportunity; transform the bad into good and darkness into light, using difficulty and confusion as growth tools to emerge as stronger and deeper human beings.

And so we conclude with a Tekiah again. Out of the Teruah emerges a greater, stronger and deeper Tekiah than the one we began with. Light that comes from darkness is brighter than natural light. Smoothness and purity that emerges from challenge is deeper and stronger than the natural innocence that we experience at birth.

Hence the Shofar pattern: Tekiah – Teruah – Tekiah.

This week will be Shabbat Mevarchim Tishrei – during which Hashem himself will bless us for the coming month and year ahead, may it be a year filled with blessings, material and spiritual, and may all our prayers for the New Year be answered in overflowing measure.

ברכת כתיבה וחתימה טובה, לשנה טובה ומתוקה – may you to be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet New Year.

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Thank you Rabbi Michael Gourarie of BINA for the above message

From The Rabbi – Parshat Ki Tavo 5779

The world is watching as Israel has gone to the ballot box for the second time in half a year and the results are just as unclear and indecisive as the first time.

Let us hope and pray that a strong, competent, and principled government will soon be formed that will provide national security, while respecting the Jewish values of the Jewish State.

Among other topics that we will read in the Torah tomorrow, is about the punishments that the Torah prescribes because “you did not serve the L-rd, your G-d, with joy and gladness of heart” (Deut. 28:47). It seems rather unfair of the Torah to expect of us to retain a consistently happy frame of mind. It’s not easy to turn off the worries and put on a happy face, so how is this achieved.

How do we re-engineer our thought processes to put ourselves into a constant joyful frame of mind. One approach, which is important for us to bear in mind is rather than focussing on the failings of the past; think of the possibilities for the future. Rather than concentrating on jobs left undone, be thankful for the chances that lie ahead.

It’s all a matter of perspective; the King might currently be ‘in the field’, a unique time of Divine closeness, but don’t let that scare you unduly; be grateful for the personal attention and the chance to strike up a direct acquaintance with Him.

There is just a few short days left till Rosh Hashana and we have still have much still to do. But if we can turn off the trepidations and tap into joy then we are guaranteed to fulfill the responsibilities of our past and deserve the whole host of goodness that lies ahead.

After the Yamim Tovim in November, we will be running our upcoming JLI course, dedicated to this subject, entitled ‘From Worrier to Warrior’, which takes us through a thorough exploration of this important topic.

With Rosh Hashanah just one week away, and the first night of Selichot this Motzoey Shabbat (Saturday evening),  please see information below regarding the Rosh Hashanah communal dinner and service times.

בברכת כתיבה וחתימה טובה, לשנה טובה ומתוקה – may you to be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet New Year.

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe