Archive for July, 2023

From The Rabbi – Parshat Va’etchanan / Shabbat Nachamu 5783

While speaking today with a member of the community, she related that she is experiencing the worst Tisha B’Áv of her life, as she is extremely concerned over the current situation in Israel, with the anti-government protests and so much divisiveness within the Jewish population of Israel.

It’s ironic that all of this unrest is happening during the Three Week mourning period over the destruction of our ancient Bet Hamikdash – Temple, which resulted primarily because of Sinat Chinam – animosity between our people.

At a momentous speech delivered last week by Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog, to the US congress, he emphasized that the political situation in Israel is a demonstration of Israel’s robust democratic society.      .

In the words of the President “In practice, the intense debate going on back home, even as we speak, is the clearest tribute to the fortitude of Israel’s democracy. Israel’s democracy has always been based on free and fair elections, on honoring the people’s choice, on safeguarding minority rights, on protection of human and civil liberties, and on a strong and independent judiciary….Mr. Speaker, for so many Israelis this very public debate is also very personal. It is now a little after 6pm in Israel. They will soon sit down to dinner, together, beside family or friends, with whom they may severely disagree. But they are, and they will always remain, family”

As the old quip goes, “two Jews, three opinions”, we can agree to disagree on various matters, but we must not forget that we are family and that differences of opinion, regardless of how strong, must not prevent us from sitting down at the table table together with love, concern and sensivity towards each other.

This week, we read the first in a series of seven special Haftarah readings relating to the theme of comfort, in the lead up to Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year, thus this Shabbat is named Shabbat ‘Nachamu’ – Comfort,  may we all experience much comfort and inspiration.

As President Herzog concluded his speech, we pray for the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, “ Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

This coming Wedesday will be Tu BÁv, the 15th day of the month of Menachem Av, a little known festive day in the Jewish calendar on which many Shidduchim – matches and marriages occurred in Jewish history. May we share Simchot and much good news.

Shabbat Shalom and may we share good news.

Rabbi Levi & Dvorah Jaffe

Fro the Rabbi – Parshat Devarim / Shabbat Chazon 5783

Last night, while assisting a family to Kosher their kitchen, with the blow torch in hand, an observation was made about the multifaceted role of a communal Rabbi, and an interesting question was posed “what is the most interesting or memorable experience of your Rabbinical career?”

There have been many interesting and memorable experiences, some of which have been documented, with a view to one day write a book, which will hopefully serve to inspire and uplift its readers.

Judaism teaches us to look for the good in everyone and everything, and to extract life-lessons and spiritual guidance from all that we see and hear, including those experiences which are not necessarily positive and joyful.

In the lead-up to Tisha B’Áv (9th of Av), the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, next Wednesday evening and Thursday, although we observe “the Nine Days” of mourning, we nevertheless seek out ways to draw inspiration and bring out the great building potential contained within this period, such as studying about the design and construction of the Bet Hamikdash – Temple and its spiritual significance on our lives. Kol Hakavod to the many members of our community who have taken up the opportunity to join our special three-week course in this regard.

This Shabbat, known as Shabbat Chazon, the “Shabbat of the Vision”, is traditionally named after the opening words of this week’s Haftarah reading, describing the famous vision of Yeshayahu – Isaiah the prophet, which describes the destruction of Yerushalayim – Jerusalem, as well as its ultimate redemption. The great Chassidic master, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev, explains that on this Shabbat each of us is shown a spiritual vision of the third Bet Hamikdash – Temple, in order to inspire within us a yearning for our ultimate redemption.

As we approach Tisha BÁv, may we draw encouragement from the words of Moshe – Moses, in the opening words of his final sermon to the Jewish people, and the Chazon – vision of of the third and final Bet Hamikdash –  Holy Temple, may it be built speedily, Amen!

Please make a special effort to join us for Shabbat services and our Tishá BÁv services on Wednesday evening at 7pm and Thursday afternoon at 4pm, during which we will don our Tallit and Tefillin, the only day in the year when this is conducted in the afternoon.

Shabbat Shalom and well over the fast

Rabbi Levi & Dvorah Jaffe