Archive for January, 2018

From The Rabbi – Parshat Beshalach / Shabbat Shira 5778

This past week, the  story of Csanád Szegedi, a Hungarian former neo-Nazi politician, and former Member of the European Parliament who returned to his Jewish roots, was again brought to my attention.

In 2012, Szegedi gained international attention after acknowledging that he had discovered his Jewish roots, expressing his desire to abandon his anti-Semitic way of life and embrace his Jewish past. Szegedi has since become an observant Jew and immigrated to Israel.

A documentary has been produced about this controversial story, as many believe that Szegedi’s past history, precluded him from returning to his faith and that he should not have been welcomed back into the Jewish community.

This week we read of the epic miracle that G-d performed for the Jewish people as He split the sea for them, providing a safe passage for them to escape Pharaoh and his pursuing army. According to the Torah commentators, Pharaoh was a first-born however, he was spared from being struck down during the last of the plagues, because it was Hashem’s plan that Pharaoh should witness the splitting of the sea and acknowledge His presence and control over nature.

Sixty Eight (numerically equal to the Hebrew word Chaim – life) years ago today, on a cold winter evening, surrounded by a handful of Chassidim in Brooklyn NY, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, fondly referred to as the Rebbe, formally accepted the mantle of leadership of the Chabad movement and made his “mission statement” charging us all with the duty to fill the world with Torah, touch every Jew in the far reaches of the planet, and love them with all our heart. As he assumed the mantle of leadership, the Rebbe sought to lift a broken nation from the ashes of the Shoah, transforming the landscape of the Jewish world and beyond in a most remarkable and significant way.

The story of Szegedi’s return to Judaism, is an example of the ultimate transformation of evil to good, and darkness to light which, according to our sages, is the ultimate goal in life and our combined mission on earth.

On the merit of this auspicious day, may Hashem bless all of us with good health, happiness and prosperity, to continue our collective and individual mission in transforming ourselves and our environment into a dwelling place for Divine presence, and to prepare the world for the ultimate expression of peace, harmony with the revelation of Moshiach!

Next Wednesday will be Tu Bishvat, the New Year for trees,when we customarily eat fruit, particularly those fruits of which the land of Israel is blessed,such as grapes, dates, pomegranates, olives, and figs.

Please see information below regarding our upcoming transformative JLI course, entitled ‘Communication – it’s Art and Soul.You are welcome to come along to the first lesson for a obligation-free trial.

Please see also below excellent ‘article of interest’ by Rabbi Dr Nathan Cardozo regarding Circumcision.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Australia Day

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

From The Rabbi – Parshat Bo 5778

This week we are introduced to the first Mitzvah of the Torah, regarding the counting of the first Jewish month,which is determined by the birth of the new moon. Jewish people follow a lunar calendar, as opposed to the Gregorian calendar, which follows the solar system.

Why do we identify with the moon? Would it not be more dignified to identify with the bright and powerful sun?

According to conventional society the kind of qualities people most admire and aspire to achieve are the more extroverted ones such as confidence, freedom, power etc. nations include these ideals in their anthems, emblazon them on their flags, and engrave them in the minds of their children. And so, they count by the sun.

The Jewish people however identify with the more introvert qualities of the moon, struggling to lend a little luminance to the darkness of the night, disappearing as the sun rises each day, waning after every waxing, owning no light of its own.

The moon is described by the Jewish mystics as feminine, as she has no light until she receives from the sun, just as a mother cannot give life until she receives the seed from the father. Yet, interestingly, we identify with her. For we, too, are the feminine of the nations, “the sheep among seventy wolves, the dove among the eagles”—all the metaphors the sages provided for us repeat the theme.

The Talmud describes three qualities inherent within the Jewish nation: Compassion, a sense of shame and an eagerness to do kindness. (Talmud, Yevamot 79a). These are essentially feminine qualities, no mention about being being strong or brave.

We have certainly fought when we needed to fight and we were brave indeed,such as during the Chanukah story and more recently during the Warsaw Getto, not to mention the IDF. But in the various prayers related to those events, there is little mention about courage and might. On the contrary, we say, “many were given over into the hands of the few, the mighty into the hands of the weak.”

So why is it? Why do we insist on identifying as the weak, the minority, the little guy, the oppressed?

It is our sense of purpose, the mission and destiny we accepted upon ourselves at the birth of our people. This radical notion, this volatile catalyst of history: that the status quo that G‑d made in establishing His world, in which the strong rule the weak and the givers are above the receivers, is not to be tolerated. The protocol is meant to be broken, the pyramid is meant to be to turned on its head.

When it comes to the roles of men and women, the concept has barely begun to gain ground. It remains burnt into the ROM of our subconscious that fighting fires, managing offices, making money and making your mark on the world is so much a greater venture than giving life and nurturing life. When such values will change, when men will see what their wives truly give them, parents will allow themselves to be nurtured by their children, and women, too, will realize the essence-power they contain by being women, then, all of society will be transformed.

There is a wonderful book,which was published, entitled “Quiet”, authored by Susan Cain, which argues a similar concept, that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture.

Jewish mysticism teaches that prior to the advent of the Messianic era, the feminine quality will be the dominant force,may we soon merit the full luminance of the moon and the ultimate exodus.

Shabbat Shalom and may we share good news, 

Rabbi Levi and Dvorah Jaffe

Shabbat and Festival Times

Fri  Nov 2nd: Light Candles 5.49pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 3rd 6.45pm

Fri  Nov 9th: Light Candles 5.54pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 10th 6.50pm

Fri  Nov 16th: Light Candles 5.59pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 17th 6.56pm

Fri  Nov 23rd: Light Candles 6.05pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 24th 7.02pm

Fri  Nov 30th: Light Candles 6.10pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 1st 7.08pm

Sun 2nd Chanukah 1st night: Light candles after nightfall (6.58pm)

Fri  Dec 7th: Light Candles 6.16pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 8th 7.14pm

Sun 9th Chanukah last night: Light candles after nightfall (6.58pm)

Fri  Dec 14th: Light Candles 6.20pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 15th 7.19pm

Fri  Dec 21st: Light Candles 6.24pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 22nd 7.23pm

Fri  Dec 28th: Light Candles 6.27pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 29th 7.25pm

Fri  Jan 4th: Light Candles 6.29pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 5th 7.27pm

Fri  Jan 11th: Light Candles 6.30pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 12th 7.27pm

Fri  Jan 18th: Light Candles 6.29pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 19th 7.26pm

Fri  Jan 25th: Light Candles 6.28pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 26th 7.23pm

Fri  Feb 1st: Light Candles 6.24pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 2nd 7.19pm

Fri  Feb 8th: Light Candles 6.20pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 9th 7.14pm

Fri  Feb 15th: Light Candles 6.15pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 16th 7.08pm

Fri  Feb 22nd: Light Candles 6.09pm
Shabbat ends: Sat 23rd 7.02pm