Archive for February, 2024

From the Rabbi – PARSHAT MISHPATIM, 5784

Following the recent unprovoked fatal attack on an innocent grandmother at a local shopping centre, and the heartache and frustration this is causing for so many people, there has been much further discussion regarding youth crime within our community, and how to most effectively deal with this deeply distressing state of affairs. Does Judaism have anything to say about such matters?

Interestingly, this week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim – Judgments, covers the basic principles governing the Divinely ordained Torah perspective on civil law, upon which most of the laws of western society are based. Without going into the details of these laws, and the principles upon which they are built, there is a crucial subtle hint to the effectiveness of these laws contained in one single opening letter to the Parsha – Torah portion, namely the letter ‘Vav’ , meaning ‘And’.

The question addressed by several commentators of the Torah is, why would the Torah contravene the well-known grammatical rule of not starting a sentence or paragraph with the word ‘And’. The most renowned commentator, Rashi- Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki explains that the ‘Vav’, which literally means a hook, is alluding to the critical concept of attaching our observance of Mishpatim – the civil laws, to the revelation at Sinai, which we read in the previous Parsha – and it is for this reason too, that the physical location of the Supreme Court of ther land of Israel, was historically situated in the confines of the Bet Hamikdash – the Holy Temple.

In other words, in order for law and order to survive and thrive in society, it is critical that these are based on the firm foundations of belief in Hashem, and the understanding that Justice and morality emanate from a Divine source, rather than merely being based on human logic and rational.

Putting it simply, unless we educate our children with a firm belief in an ever-present Creator and Master of the world, who knows best and dictates to us on how we should conduct our lives, and places the sanctity of human life above all else, we cannot hope for a civil and just society. As we have experienced in the last generation, that one of the most sophisticated and educated nations in the world plummeted to the depths of evil and savagery, as a result of their human interpretation of how we may value morality and human life.

There are certain absolute truths that cannot be altered if we wish to survive, an create a harmonious an peaceful existence on earth. As we conclude each of our prayer services “and may Hashem be crowned as supreme King over the entire world, on that day Hashem and His name will be One”.

Friday and Shabbat we commence the joyous month of Adar Rishon – Adar 1, as our sages teach us, Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Besimcha – ‘When the month of Adar arrives we increase in joy’, may we all be blessed with much good health, happiness, prosperity and nachas.

With heartfelt prayers for the release of the remaining hostages and their safe return to their families, along with all of our Chayalim.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov,

From The Rabbi – Parshat Yitro 5784

This morning, following our Shacharit service, attended by a dedicated and enthusiastic group of people, it was heartwarming and uplifting to witness the spirit and the conviviality, as everyone enjoyed a friendly shmooze over coffee and refreshments following the service. One of the attendees commented that it was a shame that more of our members and friends don’t come along and take advantage of the wonderful and friendly atmosphere of our Shabbat and weekday services, at which we are afforded the opportunity to catch up with old and new friends, and meet many interstate and overseas visitors, who frequent our beautiful Synagogue. Kol hakavod to all of our regular attendees, and we invite others to come along and join our uplifting and meaningful services.

This week, in the weekly Parsha – Torah portion of Yitro, we read of how Yitro, following his extensive research into all the various idol-worshiping religions of his day, eventually became aware of Hashem and came to the recognition “That Hashem is greater than all the false deities”, and embraced the Jewish religion, leaving behind the material comforts of his home, traveling into the desert to join the Jewish people and their destiny.

The story of Yitro is followed by the revelation of Hashem on Mt Sinai and the receiving of the Ten Commandments, which have positively influenced mankind more than any other doctrine, as the famous non-Jewish scholar and writer, Thomas Cahill author of ‘The Gifts of the Jews’, writes, “the Ten Commandments not only provided moral guidelines but also profoundly influenced human thought, language, and the very concept of history itself. Their impact extends far beyond religious boundaries, leaving an indelible mark on civilization”.

According to Jewish tradition, the Torah contains the very blueprint and DNA of creation, hence it serves as a meaningful guide in all areas of life, not just the Synagogue and religious observance.

Our upcoming JLI course ‘Advice to Life’, commencing this Monday evening, will explore an authentic Torah-based guide to navigate through life, and infuse it with meaning and purpose. Please consider joining this course and, if you wish, you are welcome to attend the first lesson as a no-obligation free trial. Please respond to this email, if you would like to trial the first lesson, or register online for the entire course.

Click here to watch the course promo video: https://youtu.be/01a0znn9D7o?si=ObUx-Tqe1hTblTjz

This Shabbat we will bless the incoming joyous month of Adar Rishon – Adar 1, as our sages teach us, Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Besimcha – ‘When the month of Adar arrives we increase in joy’ , and this year, being a Jewish leap year, we will enjoy a double dose of real true joy, with Adar 1 and Adar 2.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov,