Archive for the ‘From The Rabbi’ Category

From The Rabbi – Parshat Balak 5778

Tomorrow, Shiva Asar beTammuz, the Seventeenth of Tammuz, is the tragic historical day on which several calamities befell the Jewish people, ushering in a period of semi-mourning, commonly known as ‘the Three Weeks’, or in Hebrew, Bein Hametzarim (between the straits).This period culminates on Tisha B’Av (9th of Av), the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, on which both the first and second Batei Mikdashot (Temples) were destroyed.

We usually fast on the first and last day of ‘the Three Weeks’ however, being that this year they fall out on Shabbat, when are not permitted to fast (with the exception of Yom Kippur), therefore the fast is postponed until the following day, Sunday. A beautiful adage of our sages in this regard goes,  ‘Since it is pushed off, may it be pushed off completely’. This will indeed happen when Moshiach arrives and all sadness with be transformed into joy, and all our fast days will be transformed into Festivals. Amen may this become our reality!

So, in a sense, this Shabbat is a foretaste of the Messianic era, when the fast day is replaced by the Festive spirit of Shabbat.

This is in one of the main themes of this week’s Torah portion, in which we relate the well-known story of Balak,King of Moab, who hired Balam to curse the Jewish people,and all his attempted curses were transformed into great blessings.

 

It was heartwarming and emotionally uplifting for us to witness the visit of Prince William to Israel and the Western wall, in the words of our British Commonwealth Chief Rabbi Mirvis, who accompanied the Prince during his visit, “Today we experienced a moment of history which will live long in the memory of Jews around the world. The Western Wall stands at the epicenter of our faith. To see the future monarch come to pay his respects was a remarkable gesture of friendship and a sign of the duke’s regard for the sanctity of Jerusalem.”

 

 

Shabbat Shalom and may we soon witness the fully re-built Bet Hamikdash with the coming of Moshiach!

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Chukat 5778

This week we are reminded of the sobering reality that, although we are created as intelligent beings with the capacity to understand some of the deepest and most profound concepts, ultimately we are limited and finite  and lack the capacity to fathom the infinite mysteries of life and the ways of G-d.

The name of this week’s Torah portion Chukat, meaning ‘statute’, refers to the paradigm example of a Mitzvah which not is not only beyond human comprehension, rather it defies logic namely, the ancient procedure of ‘the Red Heifer’,which was used a means to purify those who had become tamey – impure, through coming into contact with the dead.

Of interest is the fact that those involved in the process of preparing the ashes and sprinkling the water over the impure person  actually become impure themselves for a day and are only permitted to resume their own Priestly duties that night, after immersing in a Mikvah.

The Torah commentators query why the people who are willing to put themselves out for others in their time of need should themselves suffer by being rendered impure, albeit for a shorter period than those whom they are helping.

Imagine you wish to reach out to another person to help them improve; coach, as it was, in how to improve someone’s life and get closer to Hashem. It’s tempting for the person to reject your well-meaning efforts, because he looks at you and sees someone who’s seemingly on a different plane of existence.

They may perceive you as someone born with a silver-spoon in your mouth, who’s trying to help those less-fortunate, but who has no real common background or connection with those whom you’re hoping to assist.

“How can you possibly understand me or hope to help me?” he wonders to himself “you don’t understand my struggles and you have no idea about my personal challenges.”

And he may well be right. If you’ve never been tempted, how can you possibly help him overcome his addictions and demons?

On the other hand, if we send out someone still struggling with their own issues, to minister to people with the same problems, this too will probably also backfire. If you’re still in the trenches you can’t lead anyone else to safety.

The best coach is the one who has some degree of experience, but is now safely removed from the fray. The player who played to the best of his own ability during his own career, is now able to help his charges become the best versions of themselves.

The person purifying becomes impure so he knows how the other guy is feeling and can more easily empathise with the other guy in his time of need.

To be a coach and help others grow you have to have played the game yourself. Similarly, a someone  who wants to truly help someone else out of the muck, has to be willing to wade right in, get yourself a little bit dirty and extend a helping hand to lead his friend to safety.

This Sunday evening we celebrate the Chag Hageulah (festival of redemption),the day on Which,in 1927,  Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn was miraculously freed from soviet imprisonment, where he was incarcerated for preserving and spreading Judaism with self-sacrifice, at the risk of his own life and the livesof many of his students. This day was proclaimed by the then chief Rabbi’s living in Israel as a festival for all Jews.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Shabbat and Festival Times

 

Fri  July 6th: Light Candles 4.49pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 7th 5.45pm

Fri  July 13th: Light Candles 4.52pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 14th 5.47pm

Fri  July 20th: Light Candles 4.55pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 21st 5.51pm
Tisha B’Av Fast 5.14pm ends Sun 22nd 5.40pm

Fri  July 27th: Light Candles 4.59pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 28th 5.54pm

Fri  August 3rd: Light Candles 5.02pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 4th 5.57pm

Fri  August 10th: Light Candles 5.06pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 11th 6pm

Fri  August 17th: Light Candles 5.09pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 18th 6.03pm

Fri  August 24th: Light Candles 5.13pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 25th 6.06pm

Fri  August 31st: Light Candles 5.16pm
Shabbat ends: Sat Sept 1 6.09pm