Archive for November, 2019

From The Rabbi – Parshat Toldot 5780

The month of Kislev, which begins today, stands in stark contrast to the preceding month, Cheshvan. While Cheshvan has no Jewish holidays, hence it is often referred to as ‘Mar Cheshvan‘, meaning ‘bitter Cheshvan’. Kislev however, has Chanukah, as well as several important dates on the Chassidic calendar; most notably the 19th of Kiselv, the day Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (the Alter Rebbe), founder of Chabad, was released from prison.

The similarity between these two holidays is that both focus on light: Chanukah through the lights of the menorah, and 19 Kislev with the light of Chassidism that began to spread and grow following the Alter Rebbe’s release.

The central theme of this weeks Parshah (Torah portion),Toldot is the classic struggle between the two brothers Yaakov (Jacob) and Esav (Esau) which, on a deeper more personal level reflects the inner struggle that we all deal with on a daily basis, the struggle between our animal impulses, our natural selfish instincts and our spiritual, G-dly, and altruistic inner conscience.

The above idea is the subject matter of our current transformational JLI course ‘Worrier to Warrior’, in which we are are discovering that the key to transforming our negative feelings, such as worry, anxiety, insecurity, pessimism, etc. to confidence, faith and optimism is our ability to choose to identify with, and express our Nefesh Elokit (G-dly soul), which yearns for transcendence and to connect to it’s spiritual source, as expressed in the struggle between Yakov and Esav.

Among the fascinating and importnat ideas that we derive from the story of the Yakov and Eisav is that Yitzchak, (Isaac), their father, loved Eisav and tried to bestow his blessings upon him because he saw within Eisav the potential to use his animistic drives and energy for positive purposes and to transform his natural drives and passionate energy into vehicles to serve a positive purpose.

On a deeper level this inspires us to approach all challenges and struggles as an opportunity for physical and spiritual growth and that every experience we encounter in life may be utilized for a positive purpose.

May all negativity and darkness be transformed to positivity and light.

Please be aware that from next Thursday evening Dec. 5, we commence inclusion of Veten Tal Umatar (prayer for rain) in the weekday Amida (standing prayer).

Please make an effort to attend services over the coming months, as several regulars will be away and we may struggle to maintain Minyanim.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Chayei Sara 5780

As the devastating bush fires continue to rage across our region, and our farmers continue to suffer from the severe drought conditions, we besiege of Hashem to please send much needed rain and respite and  much support and comfort to all those who are being effected. It is heartwarming to witness the outpouring of concern and support by the general community in this regard.

Last Friday night, following the Kabbalat Shabbat service, a reasonably well-attended Kristalnacht commemoration was held, at which moving words were shared about the terrible atrocities that took place on that fateful night of November 9, 1938, while the world stood by without protest. One of the few exceptions was an Australian Aboriginal leader, the late William Cooper, who led his ‘mob’ from his humble home in Footscray Victoria to the German consulate in Melbourne City in public protest.

The commemoration, which coincided with our celebration of the international Shabbat Project, focussed on three important themes were shared by those who spoke on the night. Firstly, that the greatest victory over Nazi Germany is the proud and strong continuation of observant Jewish life, and secondly the importance of each of us to stand up to prejudice and injustice, as in the well-known quote attributed to Edmond Burke “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing“.

As part of the international Shabbat Project, we enjoyed a lovely convivial communal Friday night Shabbat dinner in the Brisbane Synagogue Memorial Hall, attended by many members and friends, including a few families from the Sunshine Coast and several visitors from Israel and the US, who were with us for the entire Shabbat. We extend our sincere thanks and deep appreciation to BHC board members Leah Philips, who co-coordinated the evening dinner, along with the kind support of Phillip Zavelsky. The delicious dinner was graciously prepared by Aron Kann, who always does a magnificent job.

The celebrations continued on Shabbat day, with a scrumptious Cholent Kiddush, followed by the Mincha (afternoon) service, and later in the afternoon a few members and guests returned for a Shiur (Torah class), Seudah Shlishit (third meal), Maariv (evening servie) and Havdalah.  

We were blessed with the services of two wonderful young ladies, Mushky Mazuz and Naima Engel from Chabad Youth in Melbourne, who conducted  creative and  interactive programs for the children throughout Shabbat. We extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to them for coming up to assist in this regard.

We are pleased to announce that the Brisbane Hebrew Congregation is embarking on a special project for the purpose of developing a 5-year strategic plan for our congregation. The congregation welcomes and encourage all members to contribute towards this end and therefore two separate forums will take place early next year, one for women and another for men, on Feb 9 & 23, respectively, for members of our congregation to put forward their views in this regard. More details about this will follow in the coming weeks.

We have received some amazing images from our son Dovi, who is currently serving as a student Shliach (emissary) in Chevron (Hebron),  of the vast preparations taking this place this week, for the large number of guests expected to converge onto the Holy city this Shabbat, as we read in the Torah about the first real estate acquisition in Israel, when our forefather Avraham purchased the cave of Machpelah, as a burial place for his wife Sarah, our matriach.

Being Shabbat Mevarchim Kislev tomorrow, the Shul will be open earlier from 7.30am for those wishing to come along to reciteTehillim (psalms) prior to the service.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe