Archive for December, 2022

From The Rabbi – Parshat Vayigash 5783

This week we come to the climax of what is arguably the most exciting story in the worlds best seller, the Torah, following the past couple of weeks of drama and suspense, Yosef (Josef) finally reveals his true identity to his astounded brothers, instructing them to hurry back home and bring their elderly father down to Egypt, thus begins the story of the Jewish people’s decent into Egypt, which precipetated and our ultimate redemption two centuries later, and the receiving of the Torah on Mt Sinai.

The amazing story of Yosef is filled with much insight into the deep emotional dynamics of family relationships, and inspiring lessons for life.

Among the powerful verses, describing the reunification of Yosef and his family is the verse in which the Torah conveys to us of how Yakov (Jacob) was informed about Yosef being alive and well, as Viceroy of Egypt. “And he saw the wagons, which Yosef had sent, and the spirit of Yakov was revived” (Gen. 45:27). Rashi , the foremost commentator of the Torah asks what was it about the wagons which Yakov saw that revived his soul?, Pointing out that the Hebrew word for wagons “Agalot”, shares the same root as the word “Eglah” (calf), and that Yosef was subtly hinting to his father about their last Torah conversation, all those years earlier, on the subject of “Eglah Arufah” a topic relating to the discovery of an unknown corpse found outside of a city and the subsequent procedure which took place, involving the leaders of the closest town, who were instructed to make a declaration that they were not responsible for the death of this person.

The above amazing commentary of Rashi, provides deep insight into the secret of Jewish survival and what constitutes true life, and the essence of meaningful generational continuity. Yosef was acutely aware that what mattered most to his elderly father, was not that he was physically alive and materially successful in Egypt rather, it was his commitment to his Jewish traditions and Torah learning, that would truly revive the spirit of his father.

We have just returned from a couple of days of quiet relaxation in Hervey Bay, where we had the pleasure of meeting an elderly Jewish lady, Sarah, originally from Melbourne, who has been living there for the past fifty years, isolated from the Jewish community, although she was raised in a traditional Jewish home in which her parents spoke Yiddish and her Bubba (grandmother) lived with them for a number of years. We were blown away by the love and warmth of Yiddishkeit, and Yiddish expressions peppered throughout our conversation with Sarah, demonstrating how powerfully the rich Jewish environment in which she was raised, was so deeply engrained into her life, so that more than fifty years later, it was fresh in her memory like yesterday!

It was a precious moment to witness the glow on her face, as we affixed a Mezuzah to her front door, and she was visibly transformed by the familiar Jewish symbol of comfort and protection being attached to her home.

Like the Biblical Yakov, we have no doubt that her late parents and Bubba Feigel a'”h, must have been kvelling (overflowing) with nachas, observing their beloved Sarah, reminiscing and experiencing the Yiddishkeit of her youth with such joy, elation and devotion.

We wish you and peaceful and uplifting Shabbat and a happy new secular year.

Rabbi Levi & Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Miketz / Chanukah 5783

It is during the festival of Chanukah, more than any other time of the year that we receive and abundance of emails, phone calls and text messages, from Jewish people of all backgrounds and nationalities, who are looking for Menorah and candles or a Chanukah celebration, where they may participate in the festivities.

It is indeed extremely heartwarming, year after the year, to witness the spiritual awakening of the Jewish soul, as so many of our people desire to connect deeply with their source and with other Jewish people in the celebration of their Jewish identity and traditions.

Chanukah is always celebrated during the weeks in which we read the famous story of Joseph, in which he puts his brothers, who had once plotted to kill him, through a hard time, before finally revealing himself as their long-lost brother.

In many ways the story of Chanukah reflects the inspirational story of Joseph, in that out of the darkness and oppression, emerges light and freedom.

One of the most important messages of Chanukah is that, it is not quantity or physical prowess that keeps the flames of Judaism alive rather, it is through our eternal message, and its Infinite source above, symbolized by the lights of the Chanukah flames, with its eternal message of truth and justice, which serve as the source of our miraculous survival and growth. As we will tomorrow, in the concluding verse of the Chanukah Haftarah: “Not by might, nor by power but, rather through my spirit, says the L-rd of Hosts”.

May we merit the ultimate emergence of light and blessings out of the darkness and challenges, on a personal, communal and global level, and may we speedily merit to kindle, once again, the lights of the Menorah in our Holy Bet Hamikdash – Temple.

This Shabbat is unique in that we will celebrate Shabbat, together with Rosh Chodesh – the New Month, and Chanukah, all together, thus it will be one of those rare occasions when we remove three Torah scrolls from the Aron Kodesh – Ark, and while the Ark is open during this time, it is a particularly auspicious moment for our most Tefillot – prayers to be  answered in their fullest measure.

Wishing you and your family Shabbat Shalom, a peaceful and uplifting Shabbat, Chodesh Tov, and a happy and illuminating Chanukah.

Rabbi Levi & Dvorah Jaffe