Archive for December, 2020

From The Rabbi – Parshat Vayigash 5781

Tomorrow is the fast of Tevet, the day that the armies of the  ancient Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem, in the year 425BCE, marking the beginning of the destruction of the first Bet Hamikdash (Holy Temple). Ordinarily we do not fast on a Friday, as we are not supposed to enter the Shabbat in a state of hunger or discomfort. however, the fast of the 10th of Tevet is the exception, due to its unique transformational potential.

If we wish to fix something, where do we start? If a river is polluted, do we start our cleanup by washing off the beaches downstream, or do we go upstream and plug up the sources that are pouring in all that sewage and toxic waste? Similarly, when we want to correct the past, the most vital part of that correction is to go back to where it all started from, and fix things there. That is the 10th of Tevet.

From the 10th of Tevet, due to the siege on Jerusalem, no one could enter and no one could leave. All of Jerusalem’s inhabitants were compelled to remain in the city, and live in harmony with one another.

Our sages say, “G‑d sends the cure before the illness,”  and the siege itself provided the Jews within Jerusalem an opportunity to come together as one  and to identify with each other’s challenging predicament with true care, empathy and concern, had they taken advantage of this unique opportunity to unite as one, no army could have attacked and prevailed over them.

While we are living through extremeley challenging times, among the positive elements and silver linings contained within Covid is the sharp reminder to us that that we are all in this together, and we are all responsible for the safety and well-being of each other, regardless of race, colour, creed or religion.

We have been in exile since the destruction of the Second Temple, close to two thousand years. What is the primary, underlying cause of such a long exile? Our sages attribute it to one principal factor: causeless hatred. When there is harmony between each other, then we are invincible. When there is, heaven forbid, discord and acrimony, there is exile.

Just as it was the first time, so too every year, the 10th of Tevet is an auspicious time for us to reach all the way into the first cause of our exile and to cure it, by creating a more caring and harmonious society, and thereby taking us all out of our exile once and for all. For such an empowerment, we may have to sacrifice some of the enjoyment and tranquility of Shabbat, but it’s certainly worthwhile.

May we merit the ultimate unity, and universal awareness and recognition of the One G-d, as we read in the Haftarah of this Shabbat,  the ultimate unity of Yehudah and Yosef, with the eradication of all illness, suffering and oppression, with the long-awaited redemption.

Shabbat Shalom and well-over the fast.    

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Miketz

Today is the last day of Chanukah, from which we emerge directly into Shabbat. Among the common themes of Chanukah and Shabbat is the lighting of candles.  

There is something about candles that makes them more spiritual than physical. When it comes to physical substances, when spread, they become thin. Spirituality, when spread, expands and grows.

When dealing with physical resources, such as money and food, the more they are used and shared, the more they become diminished. Spiritual resources however, such as wisdom and love, increase when shared with others. When we share spiritual gift, the the recipient gains, and we lose nothing.

This is the spiritual property that candles possess. When one candle is used to light another, the original candle remains bright. Its light is not diminished by being shared; on the contrary, the two candles together enhance each other’s brightness and increase light.

Among the wonderful attributes possessed by so many members of our community, which has been demonstrated even more over the past few months, is the willingness to volunteer their services and share their resources with others.

There are those who are concerned that perhaps they may be stretching themselves too thin. In matters of spirit, this is never the case. The more goodness we spread, the more goodness we have. By making a new friend, we become a better friend to our old friends. By having another child, we open a new corridor of love in our heart that our other children benefit from this too. By teaching more students, we become wiser, and by giving to our community, we become enriched as a result.

This past week we have seen much Chanukah excitement within our congregation and community. From the beautiful first night candle lighting at Westfield Carindale, to the lovely convivial games night at our Synagogue Hall, last Motzoey Shabbat (Saturday evening), to Chanukah in the City, which was moved to an online event at our Synagogue, due to inclement weather. All of these events were only made possible, thanks to the many selfless individuals, who always give of themselves with such love and dedication.

Kol Hakavod to all, and may we continue lighting our candles. There is an endless supply of light in our souls and we will never run out of goodness.

This week we continue the exciting story of Yosef (Joseph), who exemplifies the above quality of not wallowing and indulging in his own personal suffering but rather, he views every challenge an opportunity to serve others and spread the light of goodness and kindness.

May we soon merit the ultimate expression of light and redemption, with the lighting of the Menorah in the third and final Bet Hamikdash!

As we enter the next few weeks of the summer vacation period, when many of our members will be away, we request that you please make a special effort to attend services, so that we may maintain Minyanim  so that Kaddish may be recited by the mourners and we may read the Torah.

Happy Chanukah and Shabbat Shalom    

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe