Archive for June, 2022

From The Rabbi – Parshat Korach 5782

There has been much discussion this past week about the recently released 2021 Census details and the implications this seems to be having on the changing face of the Australian human landscape.

The Jewish community and our traditions have never been subject to the trends of society, as we march to a different beat. Mark Twain said: “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

Most of us would like to imagine a world with no disputes, where there are no clashing of opinions getting in the way of our nation’s forward march toward its goals. However, it is our ability to develop different ideas, and voice a variety of opinions that makes this world a beautiful and diverse place.

In 1955, in Montgomery Alabama, almost nobody questioned that a black person had fewer rights than a white person. And, when Rosa Parks took a stand and remained seated on the bus, when asked to give up a seat for a white person, she risked everything to challenge mainstream beliefs.

Not everyone needs to be the next Rosa Parks. But going against the grain isn’t only valid, rather it is to be commended if you are guided by proper moral principles.

Standing up against the mainstream isn’t just about going against what society believes to be true. Looking into the face of one person and staying true to yourself requires tremendous courage as well.

So where did Korach, the cousin of Moses who was fighting for equal rights, go wrong? He was a man who had an entire Parshah – Torah portion named after him as a result of his actions. That sounds like the ultimate reward for someone who stands up against a mainstream injustice. But Korach failed in his mission. How was he different than Rosa Parks, who seemingly had the same goal in mind: to bring awareness to what society was blindly following, to create upheaval and change?

Korach yearned for attention. His way of earning it was to hurt others, destroy reputations and try to get others to join him in his attack. His underlying reason for his actions was to push himself up on a pedestal, to be known as the one who fought back.

Standing up against the mainstream is not about being a celebrity. It’s not about the attention, the friends, the enemies and the popularity points you get. It is about what you believe in. It is about understanding the risks and consequences of speaking up, and doing it anyway. It is about belief in change and hope in a better world. It is all about others, and nothing about yourself. To stand up against the mainstream is to bring your thoughts to the table in the hope that society will come out of its haze to evaluate its actions. It isn’t about wading in the stream; it’s about cutting it off mid-flow, facing the world and telling it what you think.

May we all stand up for what is right!

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov  

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Thank you Etti Krinsky for the above message 

From The Rabbi – Parshat Shelach 5782

Yesterday, during a visit to yet another young-spirited member of our community in her mid-nineties, I discovered that this charming lady is a Facebook user. So, I asked her if she would like to become my Facebook ‘friend’, and that she would be welcome to join our weekly Tuesday evening Facebook Parsha class. It is quite remarkable that we have ka”h a good number of members of our community in their nineties,many of whom are physically and mentally well and, if not necessarily so mobile, they are certainly on the ball and active on social media. When I arrived home, I found Tikva’s ‘friend’ request in my ‘inbox’ and she has now become my Facebook friend and we look forward to have her ‘attend’ our Parsha class next week.

This week we read the tragic story of the twelve spies, who were sent by Moshe (Moses) to inspect the land of Canaan, only to return with words of pessimism and discouragement, which resulted in the nation of Israel being denied entry into the land and spending an additional forty years wandering through the Sinai desert.

How could it be, wonder many of the Biblical commentators, that a group of righteous men, leaders of their respective tribes, hand-picked by Moses himself, could have gone so astray?

Among the explanations is that, because the spies were so spiritual, they were motivated by their fear of spiritual defeat. In the wilderness, the nation’s needs were provided miraculously by G‑d. They received Manna – sustenance from heaven everyday, water from the “well of Miriam”, which traveled with them as a constant source of water, and their clothes did not even need repair. Thus the nation was free to occupy themselves in the spiritual of Torah study without any physical distractions.

Once they entered the Land of Israel, however, they would face an entirely new existence; the miracles would be replaced by physical labor. The spies feared that being occupied with working the land would leave them little time and energy for their divine service.

“It is a land that eats up its inhabitants” (Numbers 13:32) was the spies’ fearful cry. They meant that their preoccupation with the materialistic world would “eat up” and consume all their energy for G‑dly endeavors. In their mind, spirituality could flourish only with the protection and withdrawal from our physical world.

The spies were mistaken in their approach. G‑d desires a relationship with us here within the physical, not removed from it. G‑d is not outside of our world, but is found, too, within its dimensions, including modern technology, such as Facebook which, when utilized appropriately, may be harnessed for the advancement of spirituality enabling us to fulfill our mission in life.

Kol Hakavod Tikva, and may others follow your wonderful example.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov  

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe