Weekly Davar: Behar 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Davar Thought

There is a unique law in this week’s Torah portion, that of the Jubilee year. Indeed the word ‘jubilee’ itself comes from the Hebrew word, yovel.

Once every 50 years, Torah tells society to reset itself. Slaves go free, personal loans are cancelled and all land is returned to its historical owners, having been shared equally amongst all families during the times of Joshua.

Whilst Judaism believes in a free market, it is, however, a free market with some caveats.

There is no question in my mind that the ability for human beings to amass wealth is, on the balance of things, a very positive force in the world. As a means of individuals being rewarded in a cause-effect manner for their endeavour, nothing even comes close to money. Of course, however, there are downsides. It fosters greed and superficiality; it can put people at odds with each other and contribute to jealousy. But, on the whole, it’s a very positive force that fosters the growth and development of human society.

So Torah believes in, and promotes, a capitalist system. What Torah aims to avoid, though, is what happened across Europe in the Middle Ages – the development of wealthy landowner ‘haves’ that subjugated the ‘have nots’. A feudal system of lords and serfs that undermined human motivation and hence societal development in Europe for centuries. Torah has a response to this built into its system. Once every fifty years, all land returns to its original owners; slaves are freed; the operating system is, in effect, rebooted and all men are equal once again (Yes, I’m just being honest – the same equality didn’t necessarily exist for women). A wealthy landowner class could never have developed in Israel and so a key safeguard is there against abuse of the free market endeavour.

Torah has never been a fan of socialism. It significantly inhibits human enterprise. But capitalism has its dangers also. For better or for worse, it can produce Robert Maxwells and Harvey Weinsteins. Torah wants all the upsides of a free market, whilst protecting against the downsides. You cannot always have your cake and eat it, but in my mind Torah found a great balance. Donald Trump is an example of a landowner who has been in business for around fifty years. Even if he had started at the beginning of the Jubilee cycle, his property empire would be changing hands over the next few years. I feel that Torah’s system might make such a person poorer. But he would likely be a more Godly human being for it.

Shabbat Shalom

Parsha in a Nutshell

The Torah portion begins with the laws of shmita, where the Jewish people are commanded not to plant their fields or tend to them every seventh year. Every 50th year is the yovel, the Jubilee year, where all land returns to its ancestral owners.

Weekly Davar: Pesach 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Davar Thought

I spoke last week about slavery to negativity. It’s so easy for us to fall into pessimism about our lives and the world as a whole. I have seen a lot of it in some of my own family members recently, as they survey the war in Ukraine and their own thinking paints for them ever more frightening scenarios. It’s so tempting to do. And then, of course it turns into a cycle of miserable thinking begetting miserable feelings, which make the world look even worse than it looked already.

And, of course, this cycle gives birth to other slaveries also. People innocently seek to escape the pain of their own miserable thinking through eating, shopping, gambling, alcohol or drugs – and the list is much longer than that.

This slavery to our own negative thinking, followed by innocently escaping the bad feeling through addiction is the process to look to see beyond on Passover.

The antidote to it all, of course, is gratitude. And, hence, gratitude is the essence of our Passover seders.

Slavery and addiction are just not possible in a feeling of gratitude. Gratitude is the great human emancipator. Because when we value, feel and live life’s goodness, there is no need to escape into something else. The sentence, ‘life is good’, ends with a full-stop. There is nothing beyond it. No need to smoke too much; no unhealthy relationship with alcohol; no desperate drive for honour and success; we don’t even need to check our smartphones every few moments. Every few hours will do instead. Simply said, when life is good, we don’t need to run away from it.

So, in the Seder, again and again, we say thank you to God for the life he has given us – a life of meaning and purpose; a life of challenge and opportunity; a life of struggle that will help us attain greatness; a life of goodness without end. If we keep on looking in that direction, persistently, we might just remember it – and find lasting freedom from our self-imposed slaveries that we would all dearly love to achieve.

Shabbat Shalom and Good Yom Tov

Weekly Davar: Metzorah 2022

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Davar Thought

I’m continuing on the theme of freedom prior to Passover. The word for Egypt in Hebrew is Mitzrayim. The letters at the root of the word mean ‘boundaries’ and that’s very much what slavery is about. It’s about boundaries, always chosen by ourselves. Whilst slavery inflicted by others does exist, it is always superficial. Ultimately, the fight for freedom is an internal struggle. It is the struggle to see beyond our self-imposed ‘is’ to a ‘could be’ that is filled with hope and possibility.

At the graduation for my rabbis this week, I spoke of optimism. Because pessimism is a form of slavery. It is a bad habit of looking away from potential and possibility, towards fear and limitation; those ‘boundaries’ of Egypt. Pessimists, as I can be at times, are slaves to their own beliefs, certainties even, about the inevitability of impending change for the worse. It inhibits, even prevents, growth and development.

Optimism, on the other hand, is a spiritual quality. And, whilst you will hear it said (by pessimists themselves) that pessimists are realists, I believe that the opposite is true. It is the optimists who are the realists – for two reasons.

Firstly, if you look at the trajectory of humanity over the past couple of thousand years, it has been inexorably upwards. Yes, there have been glitches along the way, times during which the pessimists might be looking to raise the flag of I-told-you-so. But always, always, the human race has ultimately overcome its challenges and moved onwards…and upwards. This is blatantly true in a material sense. But it is also true in a spiritual sense and in a moral sense. A hundred years ago, our lives were so much better than a hundred years before. And today, a hundred years later, our lives are so much better again. The same will be true in a hundred years’ time, despite the certainty of stormy waters along the way.

The second reason that optimism is rooted in reality is because we are, ultimately, spiritual beings. We are not animals with no vision or potential, living only from day to day, with no way to create a better future. Our spiritual nature makes us pure potential. We have within ourselves both the will and the wisdom, hence the power, to improve our lives, the lives of those around us and the lives of future generations. And, credit to us, we always do. Ultimately. As a whole. Even if there are individuals along the way who do not.

As my wife has taught me, and this was my message for the graduating rabbis, optimism is the quality of true leadership. Volodymyr Zelensky is a shining example. He exudes a feeling of hope and possibility. And such a feeling is magnetic. Because it resonates. Dictators lead though force. True leaders, and they are rare, lead through their tangible vision of a better future. Churchill, King, Mandela. And dare I add Thatcher or Rabin without getting my head chopped off?

Hope drives us to a better future. Pessimism enslaves us in what we have right now. It makes progress impossible and people will never follow a pessimist unless they are forced to do so. In certain ways Hitler was an optimist – an evil and misguided optimist, but an optimist. His vision of ‘Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer’ was understandably attractive to German society. And so, they needed no cardboard cut-outs at his Nuremberg rallies.

Passover is a time for freedom. Personally, one place I’m going to look to be freer this Passover is from my pessimism. Because it is at the root of so much of what holds us back as individuals, as societies, as nations and as a human race.

Shabbat Shalom

Parsha in a Nutshell

This week’s portion continues with the mystical affliction of tzaraas, in particular the purification process for someone thus afflicted. It also talks about tzaraas in houses and its purification. They are long and complex procedures and the Rabbis draw an analogy. Since tzaraas generally afflicts someone who has spoken badly about others, the process of purification is very complex and this is akin to the mistake itself. Undoing hurt that we cause others when we speak badly about them is likened to trying to gather together all the feathers from a down pillow – after they have been cast to the wind!

Weekly Davar: Tazria 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Davar Thought

With Pesach coming up, I’d like to talk about the idea of freedom.

It has always interested me that in many ways, we human beings don’t do so well with freedom.

The ‘freedom’ that ensued after the French revolution descended to violent anarchy. Russian serfs, for centuries desperate for freedom from the czars, did not create the best of societies once they achieved it. Power and the immense freedom that accompanies it, has led almost every historical empire to decadence and decline. Going all the way back, the Jewish People moaned, complained, and even wanted to return to Egypt once they had been freed.

Freedom seems much more attainable as an ideal, than in actual reality.

In contemplating a reason for this, I believe the following.

The fight for freedom is an incredibly meaningful endeavour. However, once the goal has been achieved, the accomplishment leaves a vacuum. We human beings thrive on meaning. But without it, we lose motivation and drive. We need vision and purpose to get us out of bed in the morning. Freedom without purpose is ultimately empty. Its pleasure is short lived. And, I would be so bold as to suggest, that perhaps the attainment of freedom for freedom’s sake is not even worth it. Freedom is only valuable if the free person or society uses that freedom to work towards a new and greater dream. Freedom is a platform, but not an end. It is a ladder to a greater good, but if the ladder is not climbed, the freedom is worth little. Worse, the years of struggle will seem to have achieved nothing. And that is incredibly deflating and discouraging.

This is why the rabbis tell us that, ‘there is no free person other than one who involves him or herself in Torah’. For the Jewish People, Torah is a direction, a goal, a purpose; it is the building of a good and moral society, a striving towards Godliness. It is climbing the ladder of freedom. Without direction, they are saying, there is no satisfaction in freedom. It doesn’t need to be Torah, it can be any meaningful goal, but ultimately freedom comes with a price tag. And it’s not just the price tag of the initial struggle to be free. Once freedom is attained, the struggle is by no means over. Indeed, I would suggest that the struggle has just begun. Because with freedom comes responsibility. Human beings can use their freedom to build for themselves and others a better world. Or they can slip into the decadence that freedom can provide. And find themselves in a world that is no better, perhaps even worse, than the slavery they came from.

Shabbat Shalom

Parsha in a Nutshell

The focus of this portion is tzoras, a physical disease that would afflict a person who transgressed the laws of speech. It would progressively afflict home, clothes and skin. It is often mistranslated as ‘leprosy’, but that’s clearly incorrect as leprosy only affects the body and the symptoms are very different.

Weekly Davar: Shemini 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Davar Thought

I heard this idea from our son, Akiva, at his inauguration on Sunday as rabbi of Hadley Wood Synagogue. It was an incredible pleasure to see how the blond haired, feisty toddler has grown up into a confident and wise young man.

When Aaron is being inaugurated as High Priest, he feels inadequate. Moses says, to reassure him, ‘do not feel inadequate, because you were chosen for this’. Akiva rightly asked, how does this respond to what is on Aaron’s mind? Why should he not feel inadequate just because he was chosen for the job? My son’s answer was to read the words slightly differently. ‘Don’t worry about feelings of inadequacy – it is precisely because you feel this way that you were chosen by God for this role.’

In other words… one of the great qualities of a leader is a sense of his or her own inadequacy. A feeling of humility and a recognition of his own humanness. I believe this is not weakness, it is strength.

In my mind, a leader who displays a level of insecurity and uncertainty is a more genuine leader than one who puts on a pretence of complete confidence. Yes, there is a balance, obviously, and too much uncertainty and insecurity would undermine his ability to lead. But leadership is about being a real person, not putting on a show. Real leadership is ‘warts and all’.

I say this because I firmly believe that, for any one of us, our greatest asset is our own humanity. Because in our humanity is our compassion; in our humanity is our Godliness; in our humanity is our common sense and wisdom; in our humanity is our love and generosity of spirit. When we try to create a persona for ourselves, we lose all these qualities, giving them up for the superficial rewards of recognition, respect, and a false feeling of security. And it simply isn’t worth it.

Yes, in our humanity is also our insecurity; in our humanity are also our doubts and uncertainties; in our humanity is also our lack of confidence. But, not only are these a small price to pay, I actually see them – when in proper measure – as qualities themselves. Because humility is the greatest quality of a leader. Humility is a putting aside of the ego and looking towards a deeper wisdom, a divine wisdom. And a leader who looks to be guided by divine wisdom, not personal agenda, will lead in a way that other leaders do not. A leader guided by a higher sense of calling is a leader that people will follow; and a leader that will not lead his flock astray.

Ultimately, this is the leadership that I believe in and that I am looking to develop through my Rabbinical Training Academy. If you are in the area and available, please do join us for the graduation in ten days’ time.

Shabbat Shalom

Parsha in a Nutshell

At the end of the 7 days of the Priests’ inauguration, Aaron brings offerings for himself and the entire nation. Nadav and Avihu, his sons, bring an incense offering on their own initiative and are consumed by a heavenly fire (perhaps the only time when someone did something wrong and was immediately struck by lightning!). God then specifies the kosher mammals (those that have cloven hooves and chew their cud), fish (those with fins and scales), birds (24 non kosher species, all the rest are kosher), and insects (only certain types of locusts!).

Weekly Davar: Vayikra 2022

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Davar Thought

Next week, we read the Book of Esther on the holiday of Purim. In a nutshell, the Jewish Nation was threatened with genocide (yes, the holocaust was by no means our first experience of such sentiment) in the Persian empire, under the Emperor Ahasuerus. Against her will, Esther, who was Jewish, was taken as the emperor’s wife. Queen Esther, and her uncle Mordechai, stood up to Haman, the Prime Minister promoting the genocide. They thwarted his plans and the Jewish People were saved.

Prior to all of this, Mordechai was a member of the Jewish High Court of seventy-one elders. In seniority, he was third. After the episode of Purim, however, the rabbis tell us that he was demoted to number five instead, due to his having taken time out and hence lost ground in his depth of understanding of Jewish law.

For a long time this did not sit well with me. I have talked before about a principle that I believe in strongly. If you do the right thing, you don’t lose out. I believe that when you get aligned with something important in God’s world, then God’s world gets aligned with you and things work out. If, for example, I give ten percent of my income to charity, I will not lack what I need as a result. Or if I take refugees into my home, with a sincere desire to be of service, no harm will come to me as a result. As I say, I’m a great believer in this.

But the story of Mordechai seems to go against this principle. He did the right thing, taking time out to protect his people – and yet he lost out by being demoted by his colleagues.

The answer I have for myself, albeit something of a work in progress, is as follows. There is one situation in which you may indeed lose out personally by doing the right thing. And that is where you make a willing sacrifice. You accept that what you are fighting for is worth sacrificing for and so you put what you have on the line. In such a case, you may lose out. Because, in such a case, you are not only willing to lose out, but in a sense you are happy to lose out.

Many brave people in Ukraine today are willing to give up all that they have, including their lives, for the freedom of their country. With that willingness comes an acceptance that if it comes to it, they are not just willing, they are happy to do so. As the famous American patriot, Nathan Hale said in his dying words, ‘I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.’ Whilst we would all prefer to be willing to make sacrifices, rather than actually do so, there is an incredible feeling of meaning when we are actually called upon to make those sacrifices. Mordechai knew that he would lose ground as a rabbinic leader by doing what he did. But he was more than happy to do so. And when he did, I’m sure that the pleasure of having made a sacrifice in the name of a greater good, was far more meaningful for him than his recognition and position amongst his colleagues in the Jewish High Court.

Shabbat Shalom

Parsha in a Nutshell

This week we begin the book of Vayikra. It is the third book of the Torah and deals primarily with what are commonly translated as ‘sacrifices’ or ‘offerings’. I’ve talked a lot about the concept of offerings in previous years, so I’m going to leave it alone this time.

Weekly Davar: Pikudey 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Davar Thought

My Rabbinic Training Academy once met with a man who is considered to be a multi billionaire. He told us that once he gave an interview in Los Angeles. He was asked if he would not mind telling the audience exactly how wealthy he was. ‘Firstly,’ he responded, ‘you are very cheeky. But if you must know, I am actually very, very wealthy because I have given much to others in my life. And giving is the only wealth I have.’

We find something similar in this week’s portion. It begins with the words, ‘these are the accounts of the Tabernacle’. ‘These,’ the Rabbis say, ‘and no others’. In other words, when a person does his accounts in a metaphorical sense, the only things worth counting are those that were done in the service of a higher good. We all know this ultimately, it’s just a question of whether we can remember in our day to day lives. No one would want on their gravestone, ‘he consumed 5,000 chickens in his lifetime’, ‘she played 10,000 hands of Bridge’ or ‘he owned ten Cartier watches’. What we write on people’s gravestones or say in their eulogies is the good they did, the contributions that they made. As Winston Churchill famously said, ‘we make a living by what we take, but we make a life by what we give’.

I’m taking my rabbis to Poland next week and so I’m reminded of a building in Cracow. It was built in the 1920s at 10 Stanislawa Street. It was to be the headquarters for the fledgling Bais Yakov movement. Bais Yakov, at the time, was ground-breaking – and desperately needed. Primary and Secondary schools for Jewish girls, who, until that point, had been entirely excluded from the education system. There was an incredible sense of passion and idealism about revolutionising the Jewish world. Judith Grunfeld, one of the leaders of the movement, was walking by the building site before dawn one morning and one of the wealthiest landowners in Cracow, Reb Nuteh Parness, was there already. When she asked him why, he told her that he did not want the workers stealing the bricks. But, she retorted, he was an incredibly wealthy property developer with building sites all over Cracow. Why was he at this one in particular? He responded that this one was special. ‘All my other buildings will remain behind when I leave this world’, he said, ‘This building is the only one that I will take with me’.

The vast majority of what we do in our lives is forgotten in the dusts of time. It is those special moments, where we actually get to contribute to something meaningful, that remain with us for eternity. Those are the only things that are worth counting.

Shabbat Shalom

Parsha in a Nutshell

Pikudey includes an accounting of all the materials that went into the making of the Tabernacle and details of the construction of the clothing of the Priests. Moses tells the people exactly how their money was spent – down to the last penny. He realises that as much respect as the Jewish people might have for him – when it comes to money, people have entirely different levels of expectation.

The Tabernacle is completed, Moses examines all of the components and gives his approval to the quality and exactness of construction. God commands that they erect the Tabernacle. It is erected and the various vessels are placed in their proper positions. And that’s it for the Tabernacle till next year.

Weekly Davar: Vayakhel 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Davar Thought

This week, as an extra portion, we once again read the part in last week’s portion about the half shekel given by every member of the Jewish People as a contribution to the Temple service. It affords me the opportunity to continue from where I left off.

I mentioned that I love the idea of it being the same amount for everyone. The wealthy person does not give more, and the poor person does not give less. Whilst it might look as though a wealthy person, Bill Gates for example, has the wherewithal to contribute more to the betterment of our world, that is not correct. Because true contribution comes from within and on that most fundamental human level, our souls are entirely equal.

I want to add this week that Rashi, the great Medieval commentator, says that God showed Moses a half shekel of fire in order that Moses should understand what this commandment was about. On the surface, this is usually understood to mean that Moses did not know what God meant by a half shekel and so God showed him a fiery image of it. However, this is difficult to understand. Firstly, why would Moses not know what a coin looked like and secondly, even if he didn’t, why did God need to show him one of fire? Just show him a regular half shekel…

I heard a beautiful explanation for this, I can’t recall from whom.

It wasn’t that Moses was unsure what the coin looked like; it was that God wanted to articulate an idea.

The half shekel that was given, might have been a small amount, but it needed to be ‘of fire’. It needed to come from a strong and burning inner feeling to be of service. It might only be ‘half’ and hence lacking in itself, but a lacking on the outside says nothing about what is happening within. It is only a half as a reminder that any contribution we make as human beings will always be ‘lacking’. No single one of us can fix the world entirely. What matters, always and only, is the feeling that we come with. What we bring to service is our own inner fire; our own vision and drive; our own sense of desire to contribute. Fire is formless, but it is the formless nature of our service that matters, not the form that it takes. Our service will only ever be ‘half’ because, as I said last week, no single one of us can alone give what our world needs. But when it comes from a strong and deep feeling, such service is full and complete. Because service of the heart is what matters.

God showed Moses a half shekel of fire to tell him just this. It might only be a half in form – but the burning fire from within is what makes it full and complete. When we come to something with a full heart, our contribution will always be a full one, even if it doesn’t look like much on the outside; if we have given of ourselves fully from within, that’s what really matters.

Shabbat Shalom

Parsha in a Nutshell

This week’s portion once again talks about the Tabernacle – the travelling, prefab Temple. Also included is the fundraising history of the Tabernacle. Too much money was donated. For the first time in Jewish history, the volunteers had to man the phones to ask people NOT to give. I’m still looking forward to when that happens to us at Tikun.

Weekly Davar: Ki Sissa 2022

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Davar Thought

The portion begins with the idea of taxing each person for half a shekel a year which went towards the upkeep of the Temple. There are two things I love immediately about this commandment. Firstly, that everyone gives the same, as the Torah says, ‘the rich shall not give more; the poor shall not give less’. All are equal in the service of God. But also, the fact that it is half a shekel, not a full shekel. The service of any individual is incomplete without others.

Along these lines, a beautiful story is told about a king who had two sons who were very close to each other, but one of whom was estranged from his father. It was the king’s Golden Jubilee and he desperately wanted both princes to attend. He sent a message to them saying that anything spent in honour of the king for the party, would be reimbursed. The prince, who was close to the king, immediately went out and bought the finest clothes, hired a limousine to pick him and his family up from the airport, after flights in first class, and booked the presidential suite at the local hotel for the full week of celebrations. Knowing that his brother would not attend, he figured that double the budget was available.

At the end of the week, as he was leaving, the prince handed his father receipts for all that he had spent. The king said to him that he was not reimbursing a penny. The prince remonstrated that he could not afford to pay by himself and that his father had promised.

‘I promised,’ said his father, ‘to reimburse what was spent in my honour’.

The prince responded that all of this had indeed been spent in honour of the king’s party.

‘This was not spent in my honour,’ replied the king, ‘it was spent in your own honour’.

The son said that was ridiculous. How could the king know?

To which the king answered. ‘If you genuinely wished to honour me, you would have brought your brother.’

I find sometimes, and I can only speak for myself if not for others, that self-righteousness can be a serious stumbling block. I want to be the one serving God, the one who does the good deed, who helps others, who is being holy and righteous. And whether others do that or not is their own business. But the rabbis, wisely, tell us that greater than the one who gives charity, is the one who encourages others to give.

Being of service is not just my deepest and greatest pleasure; it is every human being’s deepest and greatest pleasure. And whoever is not doing so is missing out. God does not want any of his children to miss out on having a deep and meaningful connection with Truth; to be in harmony with the oneness of life and the Universe. For me to feel that beautiful feeling and not look to help others find it also is to care about my own honour, not humanity’s honour and certainly not God’s honour. For in the context of service to a greater good, we are all God’s children and the success of each and every one of us should be as precious to us as our own.

Shabbat Shalom

Parsha in a Nutshell

This week, we begin with a census of the Jewish nation. Each person, rich or poor, had to give a half shekel for upkeep of the Tabernacle.

The portion includes the building of the washstand in the Tabernacle, the making of the incense and anointing oil and the appointment of craftsmen and architects. But all this is only a prelude to the feature presentation: the story of The Golden Calf. The Jewish people, having heard God speak to them at Mt. Sinai only 40 days previously, decide to build an idol!! How this could be possible is a difficult question that I have dealt with in previous years. I’m happy to send you something if you are interested.

Weekly Davar: Tetzaveh 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Davar Thought

So, what is it?

Why a Temple and why Synagogues? God is nowhere if not in our hearts. Why do we need a specific place to worship? Why not wherever takes our fancy?

Let me firstly point out that prayer, in Judaism, is by no means limited to a Temple or a Synagogue. It is available at all times and in all spaces. What then is unique about a Temple?

It’s interesting to me, as a starting point, that every religion I am aware of has places of worship. Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism…they all have churches, mosques, temples etc. But, then again, I think that’s cart before horse. Religions are, in essence, ways to serve God as a community as opposed to as an individual. Religions are focal points for people to share a spiritual focus, not just means for an individual to find his or her own way. The fact that religions, all over the world, gather people together in communal prayer says to me that there is something very intuitive about doing so.

Hence, in Judaism, the word for a Synagogue is beis hakneses, not house of prayer, but house of gathering.

Personally, I am a big fan of both individual and communal prayer. I’m a fan of the personal, intimate, private conversation with an Infinite God. It is one of my deepest pleasures in life. But I am also a fan of sharing that experience with others. Singing together, calling out together, connecting to God together – and at the same time connecting to each other.

In Judaism, there is a very lovely balance. We go to a Synagogue to pray together – and much of the service is a shared experience. However, the pinnacle of the service is the Amidah – the silent prayer. I close my eyes and whisper my own direct and personal prayer to God. The community lifts me…and then I pray alone. I LOVE that balance.

And this balance is also clear in the verse I quoted to start this all off, from last week’s portion – ‘make for me a Temple and I will dwell within you’. Yes, there is a power to communal worship – and hence a Temple, but ultimately, the goal is that God dwells within us, not within the Temple.

And so, the pitfall. How often do I see with Jews that God is in the Synagogue…but not much place else. The Temple was not, and must not be, a means of compartmentalizing God. It is a place to find connection to God – so that when one leaves, God comes alive in one’s heart for the rest of the day. It is a place to refocus, rejuvenate, reinvite God into our souls. Not so that we have done our duty and we can get on with our lives – rather so that we can take the feeling we have experienced and add that holiness and meaning to all that we do.

Shabbat Shalom

Parsha in a Nutshell

This week’s portion is about the clothes of the Priests who worked in the Tabernacle and subsequently the Temple. Like last week, it’s quite intricate details and not for the fainthearted, so it’s not a great week to come to Synagogue if you haven’t been in a while. Next week will be much more interesting.

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