Archive for January, 2020

From The Rabbi – Parshat Bo 5780

This week we read of the culminating three plagues which afflicted ancient Egypt and brought King Pharaoh to beg the Jewish people to leave Egypt.

There is a famous Rabbinic maxim, quoted in the Hagaddah (Passover story) that “in every generation, we must regard ourselves as if we personally went out from Egypt”. (Pesachim 10:5). How can our self-image and branding be as survivors from slavery? We weren’t there.

Can someone who has never been to Egypt truly celebrate Pesach, any more than who was born after 1945 really appreciate liberation? We didn’t personally build the pyramids any more than carry railway-sleepers up the death hills of Majdanek. I didn’t cross the Red Sea on Pesach and not one of my readers greeted the 11th Armoured Division as they liberated Bergen-Belsen. How can every Jew possibly be expected to feel like a survivor?

The saintly Maharal, Rabbi Yehuda Loew of Prague, addressed this issue and explained that the Exodus was not just a one-off liberation from slavery, but rather served as a paradigm shift; transforming the nature of the Jew forever. No matter where we live or under whose control or dominion we may seem to have fallen, we remain existentially free. You can hurt our bodies, but you can never touch our soul. You may order us around; beating and maiming and even killing millions of us, but you will never own us. We remain free.

Leaving Egypt impacted our consciousness in the most primal of ways. It transformed us from slave to survivor and that applies just as equally to those once-slaves who accompanied Moshe across the Red Sea as it does to you and me. No Jew can ever be truly enslaved and we will never make our peace with oppression. Freedom is now a permanent state of our being.

But the Exodus from Egypt was 3332 years ago. No human factor could possibly have such long-lasting influence. Our DNA has mutated over generations and our lifestyles are infinitely removed from the Jews who left Egypt. The only way this transformation from slavery to freedom can still be effected is if G-d miraculously and consistently continues to transform our reality.

Freedom is not natural; in fact slavery is a far more normative state. If Hashem was, G-d forbid, to stop working the miracles, we would revert to bondage. We are survivors of Egypt not because we left once, but because Hashem helps us continuously replicate that conscious decision to escape.

Similarly when we consider our entire generation as Holocaust survivors, it’s not because we escaped Poland, or our lives were personally threatened, rather we are survivors of the Holocaust in the sense that we choose to live our lives in defiance of Hitler Yimach Shemo (may his memory be obliterated) and all that he and his henchman wished to do.

‘Never again’ is not a slogan but a state of mind. We are free men now and forever.  Am Yisrael Chai!

When we live lives devoted to G-d and consciously commit to Judaism, we defy anti-Semitism and guarantee ourselves a future.

Please see information below regarding our upcoming forums to discuss ideas to enhance the future of our congregation, and our enlightening JLI course, entitled “Judaism’s Gifts to the World”, commencing next week. We urge you to come along and join as it is a truly inspirational course!

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Thank you Rabbi Elisha Greenbaum from L’Chaim Chabad Moorabin for the above message

From The Rabbi – Parshat Va’eira 5780

This past week has been an historic one, with 40 world leaders converging on Jerusalem, in conjunction with the 75-year anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, to commemorate the Shoah and talk about fighting global antisemitism. May Hashem bestow His blessing on their meeting and may we witness much positive outcomes in this regard.

Among the liberators, were many American Jewish GIs, who played a crucial role in liberating concentration camps. Not only did they witness the horrors of the Holocaust and report it to the world, they were the first comfort for the prisoners in the camps. Many were Yiddish speakers, the only ones able to communicate with survivors. After the Nazis had tried to completely destroy Jewish community in Europe, these Americans attempted to begin restoring within seconds of their arrival at the camps.

Please see letter below from the QJBD regarding the anniversary of the Liberation, which will be this coming Monday, Janueary 27, and please consider joining us for our Monday morning Rosh Chodesh Shacharit service at 7.30am, at which the letter below will be read and we will re-commit ourselves to maintaining our strong Jewish identity and observance, the most powerful way to honour the memory of the Kedoshim (Holy souls), who perished.

Thank you to those who responded to our question last week regarding Jewish continuity, and in particular to the response from Sally and Graham Osborne, who began their response with a report to the community about their Boonah property “over the last week we have had 120mm plus rain after the initial post Channuka fall of 34mm BH! The rain was heavier over the burnt out nearby national parks which augurs well for re vegetation /wildlife and streams….In response to your question in the newsletter about Jewish continuity, this is a global question, but we wish to address it as it relates to our local South East Qld Jewish community. HaShem informs us that Avraham was loved (chosen) because he would ‘instruct’ his children after him Gen 18:19. Individually this may be so here,  but without secondary school or high school  we are losing the hope of continuity and regeneration of the Jewish community as well as at the other end of the age spectrum losing aged care members to Jewish care in Sydney or Melbourne, (that challenge is for others). But once we lose primary/ secondary students to Melbourne and or Sydney they probably never come back?  The challenge is to strengthen the Sinai College..”.

This past week we commemorated the yahrtzeit of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the Alter Rebbe, founder of the Chabad movement, who passed away in 1812 while fleeing Napoleon’s armies.

The French emperor promised to bring modernization and emancipation to Eastern Europe, and was embraced by many Jewish leaders of the time. The Alter Rebbe, however, believed that while emancipation itself can be be beneficial, it often comes at the cost of weakened commitment to religious life. He therefore strongly supported the Russian czar, and became the target of a personal vendetta by Napoleon.

The wisdom of the Alter Rebbe’s position has been validated time and again over hundreds of years, as Jewish communities around the world have faced challenges stemming from the desire to blend in. Yes, we must embrace technological and other advances, but Judaism will only survive in its original authentic form.

If you have any comments to share on the above, we will be happy to keep this conversation open for future discussion.

Please see information below regarding our upcoming enlightening JLI course, entitled “Judaism’s Gifts to the World”, commencing in less than 2 weeks.

Please consider joining us early, from 7.30am tomorrow morning, for the recital of Tehillim (Psalms) prior to the morning service.

Shabbat Shalom and aFreilicher  (happy) Australia Day

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Candle Lighting Times Brisbane

Fri Oct 1st: Light Candles 5.30pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 2nd 6.23pm

Fri Oct 8th : Light Candles 5.34pm
Shabbat ends: Sat  6.27pm

Fri Oct 15th: Light Candles 5.38pm
Shabbat ends: Sat  6.32pm

Fri Oct 22nd: Light Candles 5.42pm
Shabbat ends: Sat  6.36pm

Fri Oct 29th: Light Candles 5.46pm
Shabbat ends: Sat  6.41pm