Archive for November, 2022

From The Rabbi – Parshat Toldot 5783

This week, as we read the Parsha (Torah portion) of Toldot, – ‘generations’, it brings to mind a recent conversation with a dear ninety year-old member of our congregation, with whom the topic of what it means to be Jewish came up in our discussions.

This particular gentleman confided that, although he does not consider himself particularly religious, since early childhood, when he recalled his late grandmother A”H teaching him the words of the foundational prayer of the Shema, he has never missed a single night of reciting this prayer before retiring to bed, including during the war years while incarcerated by the Nazis Y”S – may their memory be obliterated, in the concentration camps of Europe.

It was deeply moving to hear him reciting the words by heart, concluding with a verse from the book of Tehillim (Psalms 4:5), “Rigzu Ve’al Techetau, Imru Bilvavchem Al Mishkavchem Vedomu Selah”, “Tremble, and sin no more; say this within your heart, upon your bed, and be still.”   

It is truly a privilege to be able to spend time with our senior members, and to witness and experience a first-hand connection to a world that once was, to the rich pre-war generations of committed Jews, who were saturated with Yiddishkeit, and invested so much effort to infuse authentic Jewish education and traditions into their children and grandchildren, which remain alive and reverberate in the lives of their families to this very day.

Who are we to define ourselves or others, as being so called ‘religious’ or not. Most important is that we continue to maintain a meaningful relationship with our Creator through our daily prayers, and the performance of Mitzvot, including our love, respect, and care for each other.

May we learn from these wonderful and precious members of our community to remain strongly connected to the traditions of our parents, Bobbies and Zaidies  (grandparents), and previous generations, in following our time-honored Jewish traditions, such as reciting the Shema each day, lighting Shabbat candles each week, celebrating Chanukah, and the various other Mitzvot, – modes of connection, which have preserved our heritage through the Millennia.

We express our sincere thanks to Yossi White for assisting with the reading of the Torah and leading the Shabbat services during our absence from the city last week.

Wishing you Shabbat Shalom,and Chodesh Tov!

Levi Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Chayei Sarah 5783

This past Monday evening, it was a pleasure to once again welcome a healthy group of attendees for the second lesson of our current profound and deeply fascinating JLI course, My G-d – Defining the Divine. Thank G-d, it is gratifying that we are again witnessing similar numbers of in-person attendees as we have experienced prior to Covid, these in addition to those who are joining us via zoom from the comfort of their homes.It is indeed heart warming and uplifting to be part of Jewish learning community. Hakavod to the many who are attending this foundational, thought-provoking and profound course, and we look forward to welcoming you at our upcoming classes and courses.

This week we continue to read of the exemplary lives of the founding fathers and mothers of the Jewish people and, in the opening verse of the Parsha (Torah) portion, we find what seems to be an unnecessary repetition. “and these were the years of the life of Sarah, one hundred years, twenty years, and seven years, the years of the life of Sarah”. In addition the unusual wording of this verse, the obvious question is, Why repeat “the years of the life of Sarah” again at the end of the very same verse? Rashi the classical commentator of the Torah explains that the repetition emphasizes that “all her years were equal in goodness”.

This seemingly simple commentary of Rashi contains a valuable lesson for us all about how to live our lives. There is no doubt that we all experience hardships and challenge, as we traverse this world however, the manner in which we choose to respond to them is critical to leading a meaningful and good life. As one dear physically challenged member of our community recently relayed to me, “Every day is for me a challenge, but when I wake up in the morning I make a conscious decision to choose to be positive and confront life with optimism and joy”. Our Matriarch Sarah had her fair share of challenges and setbacks too, though, “all her days were equal in goodness”, as she was able to reframe all of vicissitudes of her life, including her difficult challenges, as part of her unique mission and purpose in this world, thus becoming the founding mother of us all and a shining example of how to lead a meaningful and good life.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom, Good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov!

Levi Jaffe