Archive for February, 2020

From The Rabbi – Parshat Mishpatim / Shekalim 5780

This week will begin the first of a series of four special Shabbatot, (Shabbats) in the lead up to the month of Nissan and the festival of Pesach, namely Parshat Shekalim, for which we will remove a second Torah from the Aron – ark and read about the half-Shekel communal contribution towards the upkeep of the Tabernacle and the Temple, much like the equivalent of today’s Synagogue membership. Being Shabbat Mevarchim – during which we bless the incoming happy month of Adar, a Cholent Kiddush will be served, following the morning service, in the Memorial Hall. Please do consider joining us and if you have not yet paid your Shul membership, or wish to become a member, it may be a good time to do this now.

Last Sunday, the first of ‘Our Forum, Our Future’ sessions was well attended and well run, with many ideas and suggestions put forward. Please see information regarding this below, and a reminder about the second ‘Our Future, Our Forum’ this Sunday for women. We extend our thanks and appreciation to Phillip and late Michelle Zavelsky OBM for driving these forums forward.

Please see the fascinating article below in the Heritage Corner regarding the long Kiddush Cup donated to our Synagogue, in honour of its consecration in 1886.

Please see information below regarding our upcoming Purim evening activities at the Brisbane Synagogue, which will include a presentation by the students of the UBHE Cheder. We will include information regarding Purim day at Sinai and the annual communal Purim Seudah (Festive meal) in the coming weeks.

In the meantime we extend our best wishes for a S habbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Beshalach / Shabbat Shira 5780

This Shabbat is known as Shabbat Shirah (the Shabbat of song), as we read of the monumental miracle of the splitting of the reed sea, which saved the Jewish people from Pharaoh and his pursuing Egyptian army, and as a result caused the Jewish people to sing songs of praise to Hashem for His great miracles.

What was the purpose of the Splitting of the Sea? couldn’t G‑d have found an easier way to eliminate the Egyptians and save the Jews?

One answer suggested by the Chassidic masters is that in order for the people to receive the Torah, they first needed to experience the Splitting of the Sea.

The Talmud teaches us that everything which exists on dry land exists in the sea, only they are not visible to us, due to the vast oceans, which cover them. The sea therefore represents that which is concealed, i.e. the Divine energy within every created being. The hidden creatures of the sea represents the sparks of holiness that are at the core of every creation.

When the sea split, when the waters were transformed into dry land, then the hidden core within every creation was revealed. As the sea split, all of the concealment of the world was torn open, exposing the truth of the oneness of G‑d. As the sea split, each and every individual experienced a Divine revelation, to the extent that the Talmud teaches that “a maidservant at the sea was able to see what the prophet Ezekiel was unable to see.”

When we received the Torah at Sinai, we were charged with the mission to connect the physical and the spiritual, the mundane and the holy, the earthly and the Divine. But how is that even possible? They seem to be polar opposites.

The Splitting of the Sea explains it all.

Before G‑d could command the people to connect the physical and the spiritual, they first had to experienced the Splitting of the Sea, the tearing open of the concealment. They had to understand that the hidden core of all of creation is indeed the Creator. They had to realize that, in truth, the physical is nothing more than concealed spirituality. Every creation craves to be used as a vessel for a mitzvah, craves to be reunited with its Divine source.

To split the sea in the world around us, we must first split our own sea. We must first expose the hidden reality of our soul. And then we’ll discover that the world around us is disguising a deeper truth, a truth waiting to be revealed.

This week we learned of the passing of 103-year-old of Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas of blessed memory, who was born Isser Danilevitch to Jewish Russian parents. I recall being inspired by a TV interview with late Kirk, approximately 10 years ago, in which he spoke of his embrace of Yiddishkeit very late in life and the splitting of his own personal sea. The most memorable line of that interview was when he said, “I have played many important roles in my lifetime. I played Vincent Van GoghSpartacus, and many famous roles. But the one role I never played in my life was the role of Isser Danilevitch! and that’s what I’m trying to do now.”

This coming Monday will be Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees. Among the observances for this special day, are to eat fruits and reflect on the lessons we learn from trees and fruits. It has become the custom among many, particularly in Israel, to plant trees on Tu Bishvat.

Please see information below regarding the two upcoming forums to discuss strategies and ideas to further enhance our congregation and community.

Shabbat Shalom and happy Tu Bishvat

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe