Archive for September, 2022

From The Rabbi – Parshat Vayelech / Shabbat Shuva 5783

As usual, the Brisbane Synagogue was abuzz with activity over Rosh Hashanah, which was ushered in with a healthy attendance of members and visitors, including those who joined together in the Memorial Hall, following the service, to enjoy a delicious traditional Rosh Hashanah dinner, which was graciously prepared by Chef Aron Kahn. We extend our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to Aron for his great help and delicious food.

It is events such as these communal dinners, particularly post-Covid, which create the warm a convivial atmosphere, affording individuals and families to enjoy themselves, and enabling them to meet new and old friends, often leading to long-term meaningful relationships. Kol Hakavod to all concerned, and may we look forward many more such events in the future.

This Shabbat, taking place in the Aseret Yemey Teshuvah, the ‘Ten Days of Return’, between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, is known as Shabbat Shuva Shabbat of return, as we read a special Haftarah on this theme and we focus our attention on bettering our lives and enhancing our relationship with Hashem and with each other.

It has been said that there is no word for history in the Hebrew language.

The absence of a word as central to any nation as “history” is striking. It’s probably because there’s no such thing as “history” in Judaism. Zikaron (memory), however, a distant cousin of history, features prominently in biblical language and thought. Put differently: History is made up of objective facts, and memory of subjective experience.

Judaism is less interested in dry facts than in breathing experiences.

It is for this reason that much of Jewish tradition and ritual draws on re-enactment. We don’t just commemorate, we remember. We don’t just recount someone else’s story, we relive our own, such as the Seder night, which aims to stimulate feelings of slavery and bitterness (e.g., the salt water, bitter herbs, poor man’s bread—a.k.a. matzah), as well as royalty and liberty (four cups of wine, leaning on cushions, and the like), and on Shavuot we stay up the entire night in anticipation of the giving of the Torah on the morrow, and children are brought to synagogue to hear the Ten Commandments from Hashem.

Judaism teaches that, in soul, we were all present at Sinai; each one of us personally encountered Hashem. Consequently, He is not just the G‑d of our ancestors; He is our G‑d. He’s not just the G‑d we heard about, but the G‑d we heard from.

This was one of the greatest gifts that G‑d bequeathed our people, to include all of us in the Sinaitic display, for it turned our nation’s most seminal event into a living memory, as opposed to a lifeless lesson in history.

We read this week in the Torah, among the final words which Moshe – Moses relates to his beloved people, as he conveys to them the final Mitzvot of the Torah, among them the Mitzvah of Hak’hel, the commandment obliging all Jews, men, women and even small children, to septennially (every seven years) gather in the Holy Temple to hear selections of the Torah being read by the Jewish king, and the Mitzvah of writing a Torah scroll.

The single concern on Moses’ mind that day, and later echoed by G‑d in their conversation, was the future of this fragile nation—a future that would become less rosy with time, offering terrible persecution as well as progressive religious challenges.

Might this explain why of all biblical commands, hak’hel stands alone in obligating (parents to bring their) children, including those too young to walk and too underdeveloped to understand, feel or appreciate what was going on around them? The hak’hel experience was not just about the mind, it was about the soul; it triggered the subconscious, not just the conscious. As such, children, who possess as much soul as adults, were present. Somewhere inside their psyche, they re-experienced Sinai.

If we want to get through to the youth of today, we must shift our educational focus from Jewish knowledge to Jewish experience—Judaism as a lifestyle, not (just) a topic for discussion or a paper.

Kol Hakavod to all who attended the Rosh Hashanah services, in particular to the parents, who brought their children to Shul to listen to the Shofar and experience the Holy ambiance of the High Holiday, which will remain forever etched in their minds and hearts, and impress upon them the value of a living Judaism! Am Yisrael Chai      

Shabbat Shalom and m ay you to be sealed for a good and sweet new year.

ברכת גמר חתימה טובה, לשנה טובה ומתוקה     

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Thank you Rabbi Mendel Kalmanson for the above message

From The Rabbi – Parshat Nitzavim 5782

Yesterday I was privileged to be present at Government House, along with various local dignitaries and religious leaders, to participate in a live hook-up of the National Memorial Service for the Queen, which took place in Canberra. The overarching theme of the event was the message that the most important way to honor the memory of the Queen is to continue her outstanding legacy of communal service. In the words of Peter Dutton, leader of the opposition, “More than anything else, I think we will remember our dearly departed sovereign for steadfastly embodying humanity’s very best virtues and values….Service and sacrifice, fortitude and humility, grace and generosity, forgiveness and empathy.”

As we stand on the threshold of the New Jewish year, 5783, the weekly Parsha (Torah portion) is aptly named, ‘Nitzavim’ – ‘Standing’, as we stand ready together, as individuals and as a community, to usher in a fresh New Year, with all the blessings, material and spiritual, that it will please G-d draw down upon us all.

For many of us the Yamim Norayim – High Holiday period, conjures up in our minds and hearts trepidation and anxiety, as we approach the Yom Hadin – ‘the day fo judgment’, however it is important for us to be aware that we refer to Hashem as Avinu Malkeinu – ‘Our Father our King’, reminding us that, although Hashem is our King, first and foremost He is our loving father, and if we approach these days with thoughts and feelings of sincere Teshuvah – ‘Return’, Hashem will certainly welcome us into His loving embrace and bless us all with a New Year, filled with good healthy, happiness, peace and prosperity.

Shabbat Shalom and ברכת כתיבה וחתימה טובה, לשנה טובה ומתוקה , may you to be inscribed and sealed for a good and sweet new year.  

Levi and Dvorah Jaffe