Archive for June, 2020

From The Rabbi – Parshat Korach 5780

This past week I received an interesting question from a member of our congregation in relation to the postponing of the Hakamat Matzevah (Stone Setting), of his late father due to the Corona Virus, and whether this delay may perhaps be unsettling for the soul of the deceased.

This question reminded me of a story told about the two famous Chassidic brothers, Reb Zushe and Reb Elimelech, who were once incarcerated for practicing their religion and, due to the unhygienic conditions in the jail cell, they realized that according to Jewish law, they were unable to pray. After a few moments of sad reflection, Reb Zusha suddenly began to smile and even broke out in dance, as he turned to his brother and said “Under the current circumstances, as Jewish law dictates that we may not pray, by NOT praying, we are in fact fulfilling a Mitzvah and therefore we should rejoice in the opportunity to fulfill a Mitzvah even in this lowly environment.”

During these extraordinarily challenging times, due to health concerns, we are not yet able to gather together in the same manner that we have been accustomed to prior to Covid 19. As these restrictions have been implemented due to safety concerns and the preservation of human life, which is among the most important Mitzvot in the Torah, as demonstrated by the fact that Jewish law demands that we may desecrate the Shabbat in order to save a life, even if the life is only preserved for a short while. The delay of the above consecration is therefore certainly not unsettling, but rather uplifting for the soul of the deceased, as it is a Mitzvah to postpone such an event under such circumstances. May we share Simchot in good health.

This week we read of the dramatic saga of Korach, a relative of Moshe (Moses), who openly and brazenly challenged the leadership of Moshe and Aaron, causing him and his family, and many others with them, to be swallowed into the ground alive.

Which begs the question: Why, would we name a Parsha (Torah portion) after such a person, ‘Korach’, after a man who led a mutiny against Moses and Aaron? In Jewish tradition we avoid naming our children after undesirable characters such as Pharaoh or Haman, why then do we name one of the Torah’s own sections after an unrepentant sinner like Korach.

Among the suggested answers to this question is that there is one area where Korach can indeed be a good role model. What was Korach’s burning desire in life? It was to be a kohen gadol, high priest. He coveted Aaron’s position of honor. Being a high priest meant much more than just fame, fortune, glory and privilege. Many sacred responsibilities came with the job. It was no easy task to be a kohen gadol. There were numerous restrictions: where he could go, what kind of activities he could be involved in, whom he could marry, etc. Yet Korach was absolutely single-minded in his aspiration to become the high priest.

This is something we can all learn from Korach, the yearning to serve G‑d in the holiest capacity, the craving to be a kohen gadol. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if each one of us longed for a life of sanctity, and aspired to deeply enhance their relationship with their spiritual selves. Spiritual aspirations never go unrewarded.

Over the past few weeks, it has been for me personally uplifting and gratifying to receive calls and messages from so many of our members and friends, who are eagerly looking forward to our return to Shul and, while we have been fortunate and blessed to be able to communicate via Zoom and various other technological mediums, there is a sincere desire among many to once again pray together with a Minyan, read from the Torah, recite the Kaddish, and enjoy the physical company of each other. We are all excited that, please G-d, in a couple of weeks on July 10, our beautiful Shul will re-open for services, under special guidelines, which you will find on the Brisbane Synagogue website:

We extend a huge Yashar Koach (thank you) to the many dedicated board members and volunteers who have been working tirelessly to clean up the Synagogue, the Rabbi’s office and the Hall and Kitchen, so that we will come back to an even more beautiful and clean building in a couple of week’s time.

Wishing you and your families much continued good health and happiness.

Shabbat Shalom

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Shelach 5780

Thank you to those of you who sent feedback in response to our request regarding particular aspects of this newsletter which resonate with you. As we expected, it would appear that, as the saying goes ‘different folks, different strokes’, and we cannot possibly produce a ‘one size fits all’ newsletter. Whether it is the humour, the ‘Question of the week’, or the ‘tradition’ section, it is gratifying for us to know that our readers are able to find something of interest.

We appreciate and encourage your feedback and please don’t hesitate to let us know about anything of particular interest to you, or if you have any questions or concerns. We especially appreciate it when you send in articles of interest, or even suitable jokes for inclusion.

This week we read in the Torah the tragic story of the 12 spies who, after having traversed the Land of Israel, returned with a negative report, stating emphatically “there is no way that we can conquer this land”. Most of our Torah commentaries raise the obvious question, ‘After all the miracles that the Jewish people had experienced, why did these hand-picked leaders lack the belief that, just Hashem could easily bring them into the land of Canaan and settle them in. Among the explanations was, that the Jews became too cozy and comfortable with their cocooned life in the desert, where all their needs were catered for, materially and spiritually, and to leave this lifestyle and enter the land required them to deal with the material world and it was too great of a challenge for them.

Our task in this world is not to become complacent but to go out and become creative, engaging the material world for the purpose of conquering it and harnessing all of it’s resources to benefit mankind and the world around us. This is our mission in life, not to be reclusive and allow the challenges of life to defeat us, but rather, to engage with the world and other people in a constructive and productive way. This is what Hashem wants of us and he therefore provides us with the necessary talents and tools to carry out this sacred work. We must never give in to those who see only the obstacles and don’t see the wider picture.

With the upcoming anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitch Rebbe of righteous memory, please join us next Wednesday evening for a unique video presentation ‘The Time in Between’, which will provide insight and inspiration into the manner in which the Rebbe transformed the lives of many individuals and impacted the world.

This week is Shabbat Mevarchim Tammuz – during which we bless the incoming month of Tammuz, which commences this coming Tuesday.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Candle Lighting Times Brisbane


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