Archive for June, 2018

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  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