Archive for June, 2020

From The Rabbi – Parshat Behaalotecha 5780

Last week, I received the following email from someone, in which the person responded to my question about how their family was managing during Covid 19.

“Its good to hear from you. How are you and your family coping?…My family is well, as stressful and different its been working from home and they are learning from home, I have been able to spend more time with them. Its been quite special. I hope life doesn’t return to the craziness it was. I don’t mind the slower pace…”

As Covid 19 restrictions are being lifted locally and globally, and life is slowly transitioning back to what it was while we were concluding the book of Shmot – Exodus, I sincerely hope that we will re-enter our physically socially inter-active lives in the current book of Bamidbar – which deals primarily with the Journeys of the Jewish people in the desert, with a more spiritually focussed approach to life and a deeper understanding of the purpose of why we are here, rather than the pursuit of materialism and self-indulgence. Please see article below entitled ‘Whatever I need to know, I learned from coronavirus’ in this regard.

On that note, we are all looking forward eagerly to returning to our beloved Shul, please G-d on July 10, in time for Parshat Pinchos , and the yahrtzeit of previous President of the BHC and communal activist, the late Stan Been OBM.

In the meantime, our board of management have been busy cleaning up the Synagogue and the Memorial Hall and kitchen, and they are responding to the discussions which have been raised at the recent Congregational Forums, to address various matters in progressing our congregation and community forward. Please see article below regard the various initiatives and how you may be able to assist in this regard.

This week we read the uplifting Parsha (portion) of Behaalotecha, which opens with a discussion about how the seven-branched candelabra was kindled in the Tabernacle. A simple question has been asked; why the need for seven separate branches, why not one single torch (as is the custom by the Olympic torch). A suggestion presented by the Chassidic masters is that this is to emphasize the point that Judaism is not based on a ‘one size fits all’ model, but rather it recognizes the diversity of human life and human expression in the service of Hashem. Although the Menorah was fashioned out of a single block of pure gold, symbolizing our unified common G-dly essence, we each express ourselves according to our individual spiritual DNA.

Shabbat Shalom

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

 

From The Rabbi – Parshat Nasso 5780

How ironic that as we emerge from the happy and unifying festival of Shavuot, we enter into a week of horrifying civil unrest in the USA we are witnessing from our screens. From the chilling and outrageous video footage of George Floyd’s life being taken from him, by a man in uniform, sworn to serve and protect, to the inexcusable violent response of rioting and looting in the streets of major cities around the US.

Violence is certainly not the answer and peaceful demonstration seems nearly futile, if so many have lost their ability to see anyone who votes or thinks differently than themselves as fellow human beings entitled to their own perspectives, but as deadly enemies in a very un-civil war, is there any way left out of this, and what answers may we find in Judaism to deal with this complex and contentious issue, which has raged for centuries?

The current scenes we are witnessing, bring back personal memories for me of the infamous 1991 Crown heights riots, which I witnessed with my own eyes, and the subsequent innocent murder of Australian Yeshivah student Yankel Rosenbaum z’l (of blessed memory).

Following the Crown Heights riots, the then Mayor of New York, David Dinkins paid a visit to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, during which the Rebbe emphasized that “the two sides are one side, one people, united by the management of one city.”

There is so much to be learned from those few, seemingly simple words, and much that those words can accomplish, because words create realities, and by changing the way we speak, we can change the world around us. As long as we continue to speak a dialectic of us and them, we perpetuate the divisions between us by perpetuating an illusion: That we are not one.

We can transcend the illusion of us and them and begin to see, begin to feel that this entity we call they is us. We are them. Which is really all that is meant by the motto inscribed upon the US dollar bills, “E Pluribus Unum”— “Out of the many, one.” It is precisely out of the magnificence of our diversity that the image of the One who has no image is revealed. We are humanity, united by our divine image. Our diversity is not an obstruction to our unity, but a formula to be celebrated for the strength, the beauty and the wealth it gives us.

Let’s speak that way. Act that way. Build that way. If we speak, think and act as one we can change the course of history forever for the better.

On a more pleasant and encouraging note, how wonderful it was last week, during our Erev Shavuot zoom session, to hear from various members of our congregation, who shared their insights and perspectives on the meaning of the ’10 Commandments. It was truly enlightening and inspiring for us all and demonstrated to us the amazing knowledge, and oratory capabilities of our members. We extend our sincere thanks and Kol Hakavod! to the presenters: Graham Osborne, Laurence Terret,Paul Johnson, Simi Nusem, Peta Briner,Elan Zavelsky, Odelia FitzPatrick, Simone Greenbaum & Susie Ray. Due to time constraints we were not able to hear from Howard Posner, who will present his insights this afternoon on Commandment number six, ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder’.

This week we read the longest portion in the Torah, Parshat Naso, which means to lift up. May we all be inspired and raised materially and spiritually, and work together to reach the fulfillment of the Birchat Kohanim – the Priestly Blessings which we read in this week’s Parsha, including the ultimate blessing of true and lasting peace throughout the world and the revelation of Moshiach!

Much of the above content is drawn from an article by Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, entitled, ‘George Floyd and the Healing of America – They Are Us and We Are One’

Shabbat Shalom

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Shabbat and Festival Times

 

Fri July 3rd: Light Candles 4.48pm

Shabbat ends: Sat 4th 5.44pm

Thurs July 9th: Fast 17th Tamuz                5.20am-5.34pm

Fri July 10th: Light Candles 4.51pm

Shabbat ends: Sat 11th 5.46pm

Fri July 17th: Light Candles 4.54pm

Shabbat ends: Sat 18th 5.49pm

Fri July 24th: Light Candles 4.57pm

Shabbat ends: Sat 25th 5.53pm

Wed July 29th: Tisha B’Av fast 5.18pm

Thurs July 30th: Tisha B’Av fast ends 5.44pm

Fri July 31st: Light Candles 5.01pm

Shabbat ends: Sat 1st 5.56pm

Fri August 7th: Light Candles 5.05pm

Shabbat ends: Sat 8th 5.59pm

Fri August 14th: Light Candles 5.08pm

Shabbat ends: Sat 15th 6.02pm

Fri August 21st: Light Candles 5.12pm

Shabbat ends: Sat 22nd 6.05pm

Fri August 28th: Light Candles 5.15pm

Shabbat ends: Sat 29th 6.08pm