Archive for January, 2022

From The Rabbi – Parshat Mishpatim 5782

Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Besimcha – when we enter the Jewish month of Adar, we increase in joy!

Being a Jewish leap year, we will add an extra month of Adar to our calendar. Meaning that, commencing next, we will be in for two months of joy, and boy do we need double joy! Particularly during these times, as many are suffering from anxiety over the spread of Covid, and the repercussions of this on our families and community.

We read last week in the Torah, the revelation at Sinai, about which, this week we cover many of the civil laws within Judaism. It is those laws upon which most of the Western Judicial system is based. The name of the Parsha (portion), Mishpatim – laws, refers specifically to rational laws, which are logical to the human mind.

Is Judaism a religion of faith only, or are we expected to comprehend the reasons behind the various precepts of the Torah and our Jewish practices?

The answer to this profoundly important question is contained in the unique response of the Jewish people when they accepted the Torah on Mt Sinai, Naaseh Venishma – We will do and we will listen (comprehend). Meaning that the basis and foundation of our relationship with Hashem, starts with an unequivocal “we will do”, whether we understand or not, but then comes the other important component, “We will listen” (comprehend).

It is for this reason that our portion begins with the word “and”. Although we never begin a new chapter, or even a sentence, with “and”, the Torah is eluding to the idea that our portion Mishpatim is a continuum of the previous section dealing with the revelation at Sinai. First must come the sense of awe and purpose initiated by an all-encompassing sense of G‑d’s presence, as expressed in the history-shaping events recorded in last week’s  parshah. And then, and of equal consequence, one must translate this sense of mission into each and every one of our daily interactions.

Please see information below regarding the Australia-wide virtual commemoration of International Holocaust Memorial  Day and the Liberation of Auschwitz, taking place at 6.30pm this evening.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov  

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Yitro 5782

This week we read and relive the most transformative moment in history, which has positively impacted the moral fabric of the world more so than any other event, namely the revelation of Hashem at Mt Sinai and the communication of the Aseret Hadibrot, commonly referred to as the Ten Commandments.

In describing this awesome experience, the Torah states: “And all the people saw the voices and the torches, the sound of the shofar, and the smoking mountain, and the people saw and trembled; so they stood from afar.”

What is the meaning of the words “and all the people saw the voices”? Voices are heard, not seen. Among the comments on this verse is the statement of Rabbi Akiva: “They saw that which is usually heard, and they heard that which is usually seen.”

According to Rabbi Akiva, the experience at Sinai was much more than just receiving ten moral instructions for life. Sinai was a spiritual revelation that changed the way the Jews perceived the meaning of existence. In general, the world can be divided into that which is “seen” and that which is “heard.” The concrete, physical needs, desires and experiences are “seen”; they are experienced as the ultimate reality. That which is abstract, theoretical and spiritual is “heard.” The intangible spirit is not something we can see with our naked eye. To experience it, we need to “hear” and “listen.” We must use our mind to discover truths that are not obvious to the observer.

According to Rabbi Akiva, at Sinai they “heard that which is usually seen.” In other words, the physical matter, which is usually perceived as absolute reality, became an abstract idea, while spirituality, “that which is usually heard”, became real and obvious.

The experience of Sinai was not merely a one-time event. Every time we study Torah, we are recreating the revelation of Sinai. We are not only hearing the words of G-d being spoken directly to us, but our perception of what is meaningful and worthy is enhanced. When we study Torah, our priorities are realigned. The sublime ideas in life—meaning, holiness, transcendence—become real and tangible. For each time we study Torah, we are standing at Sinai and “seeing the sounds.”

In light of the above, please consider  joining us for a wonderful Jewish learning experience, as we embark on our upcoming JLI Course, Meditation from Sinai – Mindful awareness and divine spirituality to help you think, feel and live deeper, commencing early next month. This course, like previous courses, will be available in person and via zoom.

Shabbat Shalom and keep safe and healthy,

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Thank you Rabbi Mendel Kalmanson for the above message