Mitzvah Goreret Mitzvah, Averah Goreret Averah | Parashat Vayetzei
When Abraham raised his hand to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, nothing would ever remain the same regarding Isaac’s relationship to the world and to those family members close to him. Something irrevocable happened to his psyche which would influence, not only his life, but the lives of his children and grandchildren. Abraham, one could say, initiated the first “sin” by traumatizing his son Isaac while holding that knife over his head. But that one sin seemed to bring on additional sins – from Abraham to Isaac; from Isaac to Jacob. Not exactly what we usually mean when we say: “from generation to generation
For the last number of years, the summer edition of our synagogue magazine has focused on the Jewish travel experiences of our members. As well as boasting as a member, Cathy Winston, the travel editor for the British Jewish Chronicle, congregants wrote about Crete and Corfu, Dubrovnik and Copenhagen and the Judah Hyam synagogue in New Delhi. Numbers 33, the opening chapter of the sidrah, Mase’ei reads like a travel itinerary, the stages of the Israelites wanderings in the wilderness.
Us and Them: Divide and Misrule – Shemot 5778
It just takes a few divisive speeches, a few divisive decrees – and the entire society is doomed, even if may take a while, even if it does not realise it yet. Our problem is not the ”Pharaoh who knew not Joseph”, but the modern Pharaohs who ”do not know” of this one, and what he did, and the price that his country eventually paid. Can modern political leaders learn from these lessons?
The Torah portion this week is titled Noach. It covers from the time of Noach, through the narrative of the Tower of Babel and then it lists a series of names ending up with Abraham and Sarah. The greatest amount of space in this section, in fact several chapters are devoted to Noach and the Flood. I would suggest that there are two matters that are take home lessons in these multiple verses.
The first point is that when Noach is introduced to us he is termed “a righteous man” – in Hebrew a tzadiq. The Torah then says, he was blameless in his age.
Hundreds of years later, after the close of the Bible’s covers, the early rabbis pondered what this meant. Yes, he was righteous. Yet, they ask, was he truly righteous, or was he righteous only in comparison to his age? In short, would he be considered righteous today, or was he only the best example of a pretty miserable lot of people? Was the bar set so low that he looked good, or even very good, but his contemporaries were so awful that his righteousness did not set a very high standard?
Then the telephone rang, and I heard the most heart-breaking news: the night before receiving some important examination results, the child of an old school friend had just taken their own life. When disease or adversity threaten our lives, we humans fight with such fortitude and tenacity. How could life have become so dreadful that this young person felt that the only way to deal with the pain was to make a permanent exit? How could they feel so alone and unheard? How could they choose death?
Parashat Ki Tavo
In Ki Tavo, we join the Israelites on a journey towards a special location, to be chosen by God, in the land in which they were going to settle. They would bring a vat filled with the first fruits to the Cohen on that spot, to be laid before the altar of God, and recite a declaration, seen in verse 5 of our sidra, in words that might be familiar to you, “arami oved avi…a wandering Aramean was my father.” We also recite those words at the beginning of the maggid, the lengthy section of the haggadah, when we sort of tell the story of pesach.
Do Not Waste God’s Bounty – Parashat Eikev
Every year in the United Kingdom, 18 millions tonnes of food end up in landfills. Approximately, one-third comes from the producers of the supply chain, one-third from retail, and one-third from households. It costs the country 23 billions British Pounds every year. Either we produce too much food, or we do not eat it on time. On the other hand, one-fifth of the population is struggling with “food poverty”, that means that more and more people are eating poorly, unhealthy food, process food, or simply not enough food, or are relying on charities to obtain food. These figures apply to the United Kingdom, but the same pattern is true in all the developed countries all around the world. Today, we find ourselves in a paradoxical situation: we live in a populated world (some say over-populated), where technology makes it possible to feed each and every one of us, and yet, people are still struggling to have enough food, or to have proper nutritious food.
Resolutions Presented at the International Assembly of the World Union May 2017
In accordance with protocol, Carole Sterling as chair empaneled a resolutions committee to spearhead the process of requesting, formulating and editing possible resolutions to be introduced before the IA at the meeting on 17-May 2017, at 14.00-16.30, in Jerusalem, prior to the opening of CONNECTIONS 2017. The committee was chaired by Philip Bliss of Australia, […]
Miriam and the Missing Leadership of Women: A Commentary on Chukkat (Parashat Chukkat)
After a lacuna in the Torah text of thirty-eight years, the narrative resumes once again in Parashat Chukkat, Numbers chapter 20 verse 1, with the death of Miriam. What do we know about Miriam? First: Big sister (unnamed), she helps her mother to save her baby brother, whose life is threatened by the Pharaoh’s decree […]
“When you set the lamps, let the seven lamps give light at the front of the lampstand” (Bamidbar 8:2). Aharon has been told by God to place the golden menorah in the Mishkan in such a way that the light will shine to the front. Aharon could have made the angle of the menora so […]
On Parashat Vayeshev, Joseph and the Maccabees, Emancipation and Chanukkah
Chanukkah begins on the 25th of Kislev because that was the day of the re-dedication of the Temple according to the Book of Maccabees. The coincidence of the Maccabee victory being recorded as having taken place on the Shabbat on which we hear hearing about Joseph is just that, a coincidence.