Archive for July, 2022

From The Rabbi – Parshat Matot/Masei 5782

This morning, our dedicated early morning ‘Minyanaires’, were greeted by the impressive looking freshly painted exterior of our beloved historic Brisbane Synagogue.


Kol Hakavod to the many committed, generous and communally minded individuals, who have invested their time, energy and financial resources into producing this outstanding outcome. We salute you all and extend our deep thanks and most sincere appreciation to you for your great efforts!

For the past several months, since after Pesach (Passover) we, in the Diaspora, have been out of sync with our brothers and sisters in Israel as, due to they in Israel having one less day of Pesach and the last day falling out for us on Shabbat, they have been reading the Parsha (Torah portion) ahead of us and, finally, this Shabbat as we read the double portion of Matot – Massei and, in Israel they will read Massei only, all Jews in the world will be united, as we conclude the books of Bamidbar (numbers) with the uplifting declaration of ‘Chazak, Chazak, Venitchazek’ – ‘Be Strong, Be Strong, Let’s Strengthen Ourselves’.

It has troubled me for quite some time as why it has taken such a long time for us to catch up, as there have been many opportunities over the past few months for two Parshiot (portions) to be combined into a double Parsha, and yet it was decided to wait until now.

Among the possible reasons for this may be that being, we are currently entering into a sad period in the Jewish calendar, the Nine Days, in the lead-up to Tish B’Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, which commemorates the destruction of both Batei Mikdash – ancient Holy Temples, the strengthening of the Jewish people through the unity of the Torah, is a powerful antidote to destruction and exile, and an acute reminder of how we will soon witness the rebuilding of the third and final Bet Hamikdash, through our combined and unified efforts to support and strengthen one another during challenging times, and to unite in the study of the Torah and the observance of its Mitzvot.       

Wishing you Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov and may we merit the rebuilding of the third and final Bet Hamikdash with the coming of Moshiach NOW!

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Pinchas 5782

While visiting a member of our community yesterday, the question was posed to me “How do we make any sense of the terrible situation in the Ukraine, where so many innocent people are being killed, injured and driven from their homes?”

Although we may not always have the answers to such questions but, perhaps we can look to our Jewish traditions for some inspiration in this regard.

This week we read the first in a series of three special Haftarah readings, which are associated with the particularly sad time that we are currently going through in the Jewish calendar, known as the Three Weeks.

This week’s haftarah begins with the lineage of Jeremiah, the prophet, “These are the words of Jeremiah, son of Chilkiyahu of the Kohanim,” and continues to tell us how he became a prophet. Hashem tells Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you, and before you emerged from the womb, I appointed you to be a prophet…”

Jeremiah responds: “I don’t know how to speak, for I am a lad.” To which Hashem responds, “Don’t say, ‘I am a lad,’ “for wherever I will send you, you will go, and whatever I will command you, you will speak. Don’t be afraid of them, for I am with you to protect you…See I have appointed you today, over nations and over kingdoms…”

Then, Hashem gives Jeremiah the prophecy of the impending devastation of Judah and tells him to warn the Jewish people.

The haftarah ends on a positive note: Hashem remembers that we followed him in to the desert, trusting in Him, conveying the message that if we return to Hashem and His Torah, He will accept us with open arms.

The theme of the haftarah is connected to the tragic nature of the time of the year. The prophecy of devastation and even Hashem remembering our faith in Him, instilling within us hope and optimism for a brighter future makes sense. But how does Jeremiah’s lineage and how he became a prophet fit the theme of The Three Weeks?

Jeremiah lived in a time of great darkness, when the Jewish people were at a spiritual low. He himself was taunted regularly because of his pedigree, as his great-grandmother was Rachav, a gentile convert, even though she was a great woman who helped the Jewish people in the conquest of the Holy Land. He had all the cards stacked against him, and yet, he brought about change from his dark situation.

Pinchas, the hero and namesake of our Parsha too, like Jeremiah, was coming from a place of darkness. He was also taunted because of his family, as the grandson of Jethro who, in his past life was a pagan priest, and he came to the fore in a low and dark time. But his actions caused the Jewish people to repent and change.

The Three Weeks is the time of darkness, symbolic of our dark exile. Hashem is telling us how to approach times of darkness, and how specifically we, in this darkness, can bring everlasting change and light to the world.

The first thing we must know is that we are worthy. We may think: “Who am I to make a difference; the whole world looks down at me?” To this, Hashem answers: “You are from Kohanim; you are holy and worthy,” and you we were hand-picked by Hashem for this task. “Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you”

Don’t say, “I am a lad,” without the wherewithal to withstand the world’s negativity. You can do it. “Don’t be afraid…, for I am with you.”

This is the message of The Three Weeks—that specifically from the darkness, we are able to achieve goodness and infuse light into our dark world.

We don’t necessarily have explanations as to why so many people in the world are still suffering, and we must continue to pray and  do whatever we can to better ourselves and engender a safe and morally upstanding society.

Let us be inspired by the above message of faith, optimism and hope in a transformed and illuminated world of goodness and kindness, and m ay we experience the transformation all darkness and challenge into revealed light and the ultimate blessing of true and lasting peace throughout the world, Amen!

Kol Hakavod to the many dedicated and generous individuals, who have been instrumental in the most recent repair work and painting of the front our majestic Synagogue, which is looking absolutely beautiful!

Wishing you Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov for next Friday.

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Thank you Rabbi Yitzi Horowitz for the above message