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For six years, the Beit Rayim community was privileged to have been led by the charismatic and dynamic Rabbi Chezi Zionce z"l. Sadly, Rabbi Zionce passed away in June 2018. The Beit Rayim community mourns his loss, and we look back at some of his famous Shabbat messages ...

 

 

 


 

June 23, 2018

The Torah portion this Shabbat is called Chukat, and contains the strange incident of Moses and the rock. The setting is the fortieth year of the wandering of the Israelites in the desert and immediately following the death of Miriam. Tradition tells us of a marvelous well that, as a tribute to Miriam’s piety, sprang up wherever the Israelites camped.

When Miriam died there was an urgent need for water. The Israelites complained and quarreled with Moses. G-d told Moses to assemble the masses, then to take his staff and order water to come forth from a rock. Instead of following G-d`s command, Moses struck the rock twice with his staff.

The classic biblical commentator Maimonides suggests that Moses lost patience with the complaining Israelites and was not able to control his anger. It was in this moment of exasperation that Moses struck the rock. In Pirkei Avot, the Ethics Of Our Ancestors we are told “Who is a hero? One who conquers their negative inclinations”.

Let us take these words to heart, finding the patience and wisdom to overcome adversity and to focus our energies on identifying positive solutions.

Shabbat Shalom

 


 

June 16, 2018

Our Torah parasha this week is called Korach. “Korach” is one of the six parshiyot out of the 54 in the Torah titled after a person. Korach, a Levite from the same tribe that claimed Moshe, Aharon and Miriam challenged his cousins for the leadership of the Jewish People.

The Mishnah in Pirke Avot 5:19 teaches:

A controversy for Heaven’s sake will have lasting value. A controversy not for heaven’s sake will however not endure.”

What is the definition of a controversy for Heaven’s sake?

The debates between Hillel and Shammai.

What is the definition of a controversy not for Heaven’s sake?

The rebellion of Korach and his associates.

Tradition relates that Hillel and Shammai, two esteemed wise men ,disagreed on a wide spectrum of Jewish legal points. Nevertheless, each of them raised great schools of scholars who lived Jewish lives of integrity. Though they interpreted halacha differently, each teacher along with his followers was praised for respecting the other’s opinions. That is one reason why the considerations and rulings of both Hillel and Shammai have been preserved for us within the Oral Tradition. Even though we predominantly follow the path of Hillel, the teachings of Shammai are sound and offer significant insights and may again be followed one day. The discrepancies of Hillel and Shammai were ultimately trifling compared to the fact that both of them were true seekers of paths that led to the glory of G-d. Therefore, the teachings of both men have survived and continue to inspire us today.

Our sages contend that Korach’s motivation was to attain personal glory and power by wrestling the leadership away from Moses after embarrassing him in public.

This week the Torah invites us to consider why and how we disagree with others. If our ambitions are driven by personal gain at the expense of others, then we can expect our labours to end in the same disgrace and doom that befell Korach and his gang. Therefore, this Shabbat and always, may the work of our hands lead to enhancing the nature of the Jewish people and the world in the spirit of pluralism and harmony. May each of us, individually and collectively, be inspired to contribute to this blessed enterprise so that like Hillel and Shammai, our efforts and contributions will endure and take us down the road to peace for the benefit of all!

Shabbat Shalom


June 9, 2018

The popular story is told of the tourist in Israel who attended a recital and concert at the Moscovitz Auditorium. He was quite impressed with the architecture and the acoustics. The tourist inquired of the tour guide, “Is this magnificent auditorium named after Chaim Moscovitz, the famous Talmudic scholar?.” “No”, replied the guide ”it is named after Sam Moscowitz, the writer” “Never heard of him; what did he write?” “A cheque”, replied the guide.

Writing cheques is one way of supporting the important institutions and organizations in our diverse Jewish community. Kol Hakavod to those generous philanthropists whose contributions enable the success of our efforts.

Another tangible way of exhibiting support to the Jewish people is through volunteerism. Countless individuals sit on our board and communities donating their time to all of our Beit Rayim endeavours. In this week’s Torah portion of Shelach Lecha we are reminded of the spies sent by Moses to reconnoiter the Land of Israel. Of the twelve spies listed in the parsha, eleven come from important “chashuv” families. Several of the spies have holy names containing “shem hashem,” a derivative of the name G-d.

However, one spy, it appears, does not possess any distinct familial importance nor an important name.

Caleb has its origins in the Hebrew word for dog. The Torah refers to him as a Kenezite, a tribe who had joined with the Jewish people in a covenant with Abraham. Caleb, who together with Joshua, provides confidence and resolve in our ancient ancestral brethren, achieves a position of prominence through his
actions.

The individuals who donate their time and efforts on behalf of our shul are the modern day “Calebs” of our Beit Rayim community. May they continue in the holy work, going from strength to strength and inspire others to emulate their actions.


June 2, 2018

In this week’s Torah portion of Behaalotcha, our biblical ancestors are doing something very Jewish. They are complaining about the food.

It seems that Jews complaining about food is almost cultural. You know the story of the elderly Jewish woman complaining to a friend about a
restaurant where she ate: “It was doubly horrible,” she says. “The food was terrible … and they served such small portions!”

So Jews complaining about food comes as no surprise. What is surprising was the basis of their complaint, when they cried out: “Zacharnu et ha-dagah—we remember the fish we used to eat free in Egypt—now we have nothing but this manna to look to.” Now you tell me, do you really think the Egyptians served the Jewish people fish during our years of slavery? Is that how you picture the Egyptians treating our ancestors—by serving them gefilte fish? The description that we have of what Jews ate in Egypt was matzoh, the lechem oni, the poor people’s bread. What fish?

It seems that our ancestors in those days fell victim to a syndrome that many of us have to this very day. It’s called the syndrome of “the good old days.” There seems to be a tendency amongst many people to always picture the past as having been much better than it really was. Whatever is wrong today, they
think in their minds, was much better in “the good old days.”

My Friends, perhaps we should take a cue from the famous song from the Broadway show, “La Cage aux Folles” - “The best of times are now.” These are the best of times—yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never be. All we have is today, now.

So let us enjoy and cherish the old and the new. Let us be grateful for all the good that we have in our lives. Rather than complain, let us echo and proclaim the words of our daily prayer: Ashreinu mah tov chelkeinu u’mah yaffa yerusheitenu—”happy are we, how good is our portion, how pleasant our lot, how beautiful our heritage.”

Shabbat Shalom


 

May 26, 2018

Shalom,
Our Torah portion this week is called Naso and lists the names of the princes of the twelve tribes of Israel, as they offered gifts at the dedication of the Tabernacle. If you look at the names of the princes of the twelve tribes, you will notice something very strange about them. Eleven of the twelve have religious names; they have the name of G-d within them. They have names like Elitsur which means “G-d is my rock” or Nitanel which means “G-d has given” or Elishama which means “G-d has heard.” One even has a quadruple form of the name G-d within his name: Shlumiel ben Tsurishaday. Shalom is a name of G-d. El is a name of G-d. Tsur is a name of G-d. and Sha-day is a name of G-d. So this man’s name is really a four-fold praise of G-d.

What is significant is that eleven out of the twelve princes, the eleven who had pious names, all turned out to be not such pious people. Among the twelve there was only one who was really noble, really brave, and really devoted to G-d. Do you know what his name was? It was the prince of the tribe of Judah whose name was Nachshon ben Aminadav.

The eleven who had G-d’s name on exhibit as part of their names turned out to be not such a great credit to G-d, and the one who has the worst name of all, the one who for some reason that I cannot comprehend was named for a snake, turned out to be the bravest and the most loyal servant of G-d of them all. When the Israelites stood at the edge of the Red Sea, all the other princes suddenly became very polite. Each one said to the other: “After you.” But Nachshon had the courage to jump into the sea before it split and he was the one who saved the Jewish people.

Perhaps what the Torah is telling us is that there ought to be a truth in advertising law, not only for products but also for people.

Let us take this lesson to heart. The name that really counts is not the one given to us but the one we make for ourselves. Let us conduct our lives in keeping with the words of the Psalmist: “N’ki kapaim u’var levav—let us exhibit to one and all not only clean hands but a pure heart as well.”

Shabbat Shalom 



May 19, 2018

Shalom,
This is a special weekend in our Jewish Calendar. The same moment that Shabbat ends on Saturday evening, we will usher in the Yom Tov of Shavuot.

Shavuot is also named Ziman Matan Toreteinu, the time of the giving of the Torah. Shavuot is marked not only by eating cheese blintzes and reciting Yizkor (Monday morning) but more importantly by increased Torah study. Many have a custom of staying up all night and studying in anticipation of receiving the Torah.

In past years we have offered late study sessions and a few devoted students joined us as we studied around midnight. The blessing below is written by the poet Danny Siegel and is inspired by a passage in the Talmud in Berachot page 17a. I share it with you on the eve of Shavuot with the hope and prayer that it holds true for you and your loved ones:

May your eyes sparkle with the light of Torah
And your ears hear the music of its words.
May the space between each letter of the scrolls
Bring warmth and comfort to your soul.
May the syllables draw holiness from your heart
And may this holiness be gentle and soothing to the world.
May your study be passionate
And meanings bear more meanings
Until life itself arrays itself to you
As a dazzling wedding feast.
And may your conversation
Even of the commonplace
Be a blessing to all who listen to your words
And see the Torah glowing on your face.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Shavuot Sameach



May 12, 2018

Shalom,
This period of time between the festivals of Pesach and Shavout is a strange one. Biblically it is known as the period of the Omer, a happy time of the barley harvest for ancient Israel. But strangely enough this is not a happy time in the Jewish calendar. This is a time of semi-mourning, a time when we are not supposed to listen to music, when we do not conduct weddings.

Why? Says the Talmud: because it was during this period of time that the 24,000 students of Rabbi Akiva all died of a plague. Our sages tell us that the reason was “mipnei shelo nahagu kavod zeh l’zeh—because they did not show respect to each other.”

The late, great Lubavitcher Rebee taught that they didn't show respect to each other’s opinions. As students of Torah, there are always disagreements, there are always differences of opinions. But that doesn’t mean that one should belittle the other’s opinions. 

I am writing these words on Lag B’Omer, the 33rd day in the counting of the Omer; a day of rejoicing and celebrating, because on this day the plague stopped. Rabbi Akiva’s students stopped dying. And I guess they all stopped being disrespectful to each other, focusing instead on what their teacher, Rabbi Akiva, considered the greatest mitzvah of all: “V’ahavta l’reicha kamocha—to love thy neighbor as thyself.”

May we take this lesson to heart, fulfilling the hope expressed by the Psalmist: “May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favour before You,
O G-d my rock and my redeemer.”

Shabbat Shalom


 

May 5, 2018

Our Torah portion this week is called Emor, which literally translates as “speak”. This is the second Shabbat when we first encounter the laws of mourning. The brief, terse 
commandments in this Torah portion are the foundation stones of what eventually becomes this vast, complex 
network of laws that help us get through grief.

They are intended to teach us two truths.

One, that we must grieve, and we should not ignore our loss and pretend that nothing hurtful has happened. We cannot go on with our lives while denying our pain.

Secondly, to teach us is that not only must we grieve and not avoid it, but that we must also get through our grief, and get to the other side.

May these wise guidelines that are found in our tradition help us and heal us, whenever pain and loss strike us down, as they will do at some time in life of each person on this earth.


 

april 28, 2018

The second of our two Torah portions this week find

G-d commanding us: “Kedoshim tihiyehu—you shall be holy.” And so, comes the next question. What does that mean … what does the work “holy” signify?

When you hear the word “holy” what immediately comes to mind? Something spiritual, something sacred, something related to G-d. And that’s what Wikipedia
tells us: “Holiness originates in G-d and is communicated to things, places, times and persons engaged in His Service.”Our Torah portion which begins with the words, “You are holy,” goes on to list a whole series of commandments that relate to our behaviour with each other.

That is where holiness must be found.

May we all treat others the way we would wanted to be treated ourselves and hence achieve great levels of holiness.


 

April 21, 2018

Our Torah portions this week are called Tazria-Mezorah, and deal primarily with a skin ailment called tzaraat.  Our sages 
explain this affliction by associating it with the sin of gossip or slander—saying that the word metzora was a contraction of the term, motzi ra, “one who gives a bad name.”

I am writing these words as we prepare to celebrate Yom Haatzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day.  We all know that is it common place for celebrities of all kinds to “give a bad name” when referring to Israel  Why do so many find the need to defame our beloved Jewish homeland?  Sure, not every Israeli soldier acts like a saint, and not every Israeli policy is an act of genius.  There is certainly room for criticism, but that should not blind anyone to the fact that despite all the provocations and incitements, despite our enemies deploying the despicable means, despite acts of barbarism and terrorism … despite all this, there is no country on earth more desirous of peace, more willing to compromise for peace, than the people of Israel.

The author of Israel’s National Anthem, Hatikvah, The Hope, Naphtali Herz Imber, once said “kings, earls, cardinals, will all pass away … but I and Hatikvah will remain forever.”

He was right!  The hope remains forever …

“L’hiyot am chofshi b’artzeinu b’eretz tziyon v’Yerushalayim—to be a free people in our land, in the land of Zion and Jerusalem.”

Chag Haatzmaut Sameach and Shabbat Shalom,


 

April 14, 2018

Our Torah portion this week is called Shemini.  
Our sedra describes the untimely death of Aaron’s two sons Nadav and Avihu. Tradition holds that they lost their lives after intentionally becoming inebriated while officiating as 
religious leaders offering sacrifices on behalf of the Jewish 
people. Our sages take special note of Aaron’s response in recording:

“vayidom Aharon, and Aaron was silent”

Silence is one way in dealing with loss. 
As I write these words on Yom Hashoah v”Hagvurah on Holocaust Remembrance Day, I am reminded that for far too long we have emulated Aaron’s silence when combatting injustices
and atrocities that have befallen our people. Enough is enough. 
How thankful we are that we live in a time and place where we no longer are required to be silent in the face of an inhumane world.


 

April 7, 2018

I hope the matzah is treating you well.

We all know that the Hebrew word Pesach (or Passover) has its origins in the biblical account of the angel of death “passing over” the homes of the Jewish/Israelite households and sparing our first-born sons. There is an obscure rabbinic commentary suggesting another meaning to the name of our holy day. Peh in Hebrew means mouth and siach means dialogue. The combination of these two words is Pesach. At our seders we all use our mouths 
not only to eat all of the delicacies on our table but also to engage in dialogue.

On Passover more Jews observe kashrut than at any other time of the year. So many of us meticulously check everything we eat to determine if it is kosher. As Passover comes to an end, may we continue to keep in mind not only what food and drink goes in our mouths, but
also the words that come out of our mouths.



March 31, 2018

As we gather at the Pesach seder, we celebrate our exodus from Egypt and the receiving of our freedom. But we also celebrate something else. In the words of the Torah: “vayehi sham l’goy - it is there that we became a nation”. 
Ever since that moment 3500 years ago, our people have experienced a saga of homelessness and suffering unlike that of any other people. But we have survived. We have persevered...because we had one another! And because of that, we had another one– the one G-d who has stood by us. 

With full hearts, at this historic time in the lives of our people, let us echo the words of our prayer: “Attah echud v’shimcha echad u’mi k’amcha Yisroel goi echad b’aaretz - G-d is one and G-d’s name is one, and who is like Your people Israel– one nation in the land”.

Chag Peach Sameach and Shabbat Shalom, 

P.S. 3000 years ago we wre slaves to Pharoh in Egypt. Today we are slaves to our smartphones in Canada. Do you think a smartphone should be treated like bread and everyone at the seder should hide it for one night? Wouldn’t that be nice? Isn’t face-to-face better than Facebook? 
 


 

March 24, 2018

This Shabbat promises to be a great Shabbat because of its name... Shabbat HaGadol, which literally means "the great Shabbat".  
 
While we continue our weekly reading of Tsav from our first scroll, our second Torah marks the special designation of ShabbatHaGadol.
 
Shabbat HaGadol is the special Sabbath before the great holy days of Pesach, and Pesach is great because every one of us is included!
 
Regardless of whether you are wise, ignorant, rebellious, simple, rich or poor... Jews and all people are welcome at the Seder table!  There is a place for everyone, and everyone is equally welcome. The Talmud insists that even the poorest of the poor must be treated and fed equal to everyone else. We live in a world where many are not welcome and treated well by others. Pesach presents us with an excellent example of how humanity can treat each other with due honour and respect!
 
On this Shabbat HaGadol...
 Let us appreciate the greatness of the gift of life that we possess.
 Let us appreciate the greatness of our Jewish heritage and do all we can at the Seder and throughout the year to perpetuate that greatness into the future.
 Let us appreciate the greatness of the blessings we have by being mindful to share our blessings, resources, friendship and love with others.
Let us appreciate the greatness of the world by demonstrating large measures of understanding, compassion, harmony and peace as much as possible.
At this spring season of greatness, let us make our Sedarim great, Pesach great, and relish the knowledge that greatness lies within us all!  May each and every one of us do all that we can to make life great for ourselves and for others!
Shabbat Shalom and Hag Pesach Sameach to all!
 


 

March 17, 2018

This Shabbat morning we begin the third book of the Torah.  Leviticus , or Vayikra begins with the word vayikra, which translates as "and He called".  
This Shabbat will also mark the fifth year that we will be hosting a delegation from Wordswap.  Under the auspices of StandWithUs Canada, eight young Israelis of diverse cultures and ethnicities have now arrived and  are touring  in Canada for two weeks. Druze, Bedouin, and Jewish citizens of Israel, with backgrounds that include Indian, Moroccan, Panamanian, represent the beautiful complexity and diversity of Israel. The delegation will tour university campuses, high schools, and speak to community members in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, London, Kingston, and Winnipeg. They will share their unique stories, as they offer coffee and conversation – in Arabic, English, Hebrew. 
I encourage you to make every effort to attend services this Shabbat morning and extend a warm  welcome to Gilad, Tslil, Tom, Lihi, Inbar, and Eyal.
 


 

March 10, 2018

This Shabbat we read from two Torah scrolls. The first follows our weekly reading when we finish the book of Exodus with Vaykhel/Pekudei.
Our second Torah is read to commemorate the special designation of this Shabbat as Shabbat Parah, the Sabbath of the Cow on which we read the biblical commandment regarding the Red Heifer. The mitzvah of the Red Heifer is one that defies understanding. A Red Heifer is slaughtered, some of its blood is sprinkled toward the Tabernacle, the cow is burned and its ashes used for purification. Not King Solomon and not Rabbi Google were able to rationally understand this law.
There is so much we don’t know. As Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Yiddish Nobel writer, once pointed out, “With all our knowledge we still don’t know why a magnet doesn’t work on cottage cheese.” We don’t know that, and so much more. Only G-d knows ... and we must put our faith in G-d, keeping in mind the Biblical words: “Ha-nistaros l’Hashem Elokeinu – that which is hidden is for G-d, but that which is revealed is for us and our children forever and ever.” 



March 3, 2018

This week's Torah portion of Ki Tissa begins with a census of our ancient Israelite ancestors. When instructing Moses to administer the census G-d uses the following words:
"when you lift up the heads of the children of Israel".
The rabbis deduce that G-d is teaching us that when a person is counted - when a person is noticed - it lifts up their spirits.

If you think about it, we too have our spirits lifted when someone recognizes us, when they know our name. As a rabbi, I experience this again and again when I approach someone in shul that I don't recognize and greet them warmly.
I urge you to try it the next time you are in shul. Go up to someone you don't know and say Shabbat Shalom.

You will be lifting their spirits and doing G-d's work.



February 24th, 2018

This Shabbat we add a second Torah reading to ourportion of Tetzaveh. The week beforeis noted as Shabbat Zachor – the Shabbos on which we are commanded toZachor- remember -what our archenemy Amalek did to us.important is this that the same paragraph that starts with thecommandment for us to “zachor - remember” concludes with the words, “lo tishkach– don’t forget.”

Zachor … we have to remember the past.that is not enough.are also told: “Lotishkach– don’t foget.”

What is the difference?

Rabbi Israel Lau, former Chief Rabbi of Israel and the youngest survivor of Buchenwald concentration camp, points out that “not to forget” refers to what takes place in one’s heart, while zachor – “remember” – refers to

actions that serve to remind people.Rabbi Lau, “The actions that I took to fulfill the zachor – remembering – was to tell the story.”

My friends, it appears that the current Polish government doesn’t want to tell the story and remember … but we must!It’s not enough to simply feel it in our hearts.

Let us take this lesson to heart, and then witness the fulfillment of the words of the Psalmist: “Yitamu chataimmin ha-aretz u’rishaiim od einem– when sinners will be obliterated from the world and the wicked shall be no more.”



February 16, 2018

This week's Torah portion describes the building of the Tabernacle – the forerunner of the Temple in Jerusalem. G-d tells the Jewish people: “V’asu li mikdash v’shochanti b’tochem – And you shall make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell amongst you.” 
The first article made for the sanctuary is that of the Holy Ark, which was to house the tablets containing the Ten  Commandments. The Torah describes in minute detail how the Ark was to be built. In the Bible we are told that the Ark that was made for the Tabernacle had to be covered with gold inside and out. 
The rabbis in the Talmud asked: "we can understand why there had to be gold on the outside of the ark; that’s where everyone would see it and be impressed by its grandeur. But why the need for gold on the inside where it would remain unseen?"
And the rabbis respond that from this we learn that the ideal for a person is to be tocho k’baro – inwardly what they appear to be outwardly. 
The lesson is clear: every time we come to shul and we direct our prayers toward the Ark, the Ark is there to remind us that coming to shul and praying to G-d is not enough if it is not matched by what
is going on inside of YOU! 
Let us take this lesson to heart and do our utmost to be the best we can be.



February 10, 2018

This week's Torah portion of Mishpatim, begins with the 
Hebrew letter "vav" which is translated as "and". This "and" connects last week's sedra with this week's sedra. Parshat Yitro and Parshat Mishpatim are the very core of the Torah. Last week we read about the revelation at Mount Sinai and the giving of the Ten Commandments. In ten simple and eloquent         statements we find the essence of our way of life: belief in G-d, eschewing idolatry, using our words with integrity, observing the Sabbath, honouring our parents, and living an ethical life with respect for all of G-d's creatures. What could be more beautiful or simple than this? Who doesn't believe in the Ten Commandments?

In the Ten Commandments we have a vision of what the world could be, and what it should be.

Parshat Mishpatim is more complicated. This parshah is referred to as Sefer Ha'brit, the Book of the Covenant. It presents us with a collection of laws touching on every aspect of life. This is one stop shopping for the minutiae of daily life. Unlike Parshat Yitro these laws are casuistic; that is, they are not presented unequivocally but in the form of case studies. "If such and such takes place then you shall do the following..."  Unlike the Ten Commandments, which are presented quite directly, "Thou shall," and "Thou shall not," these laws are messy. They acknowledge the complexities of life.
 
It is interesting to note that most of the countries in the Western world borrow many of their civil and criminal laws from Parshat Mishpatim. May we continue to be a light unto the nations. 



February 3, 2018

This week's Torah portion of Yitro, named after the father in law of Moses,  contains the Ten Commandments.  When the Children of Israel camped at Mount Sinai ( the mountain and not the hospital!) the Torah text contains a strange grammatical error .  The word for camped is in the singular when it should have been in the plural.  Previous verses in the same chapter of the Torah uses the word for camped in the plural.   

While it appears that a mistake is made in the text ,  Rashi , the foremost biblical scholar says that this is done deliberately.  Rashi states that when Bnai Yisrael, the Children of Israel, were ready to receive the Torah they were "like one person with one heart" .  Prior to this moment the Israelites were a disgruntled multitude of people.  Now , Rashi states, they were unified like one.

It is my hope and prayer that we at Beit Rayim can emulate the ancient Israelites and be unified as one.  While criticism and different opinions are always welcome at our shul, it is important to realize that we are all unified as one in our mission.  That mission is to continue to foster a Conservative Egalitarian presence in our growing community.

May we be unified in our goal.
 



January 27, 2018

 We all know that it has taken thousands of years for women to find equality with men in serving in a leadership role in our prayer services . I applaud the women of our shul, who in less than a decade as leaders of our Shabbat Shira service, have now invited men to participate as well!

 This special Sabbath is called Shabbat Shira because  in this week's portion of Beshalach, Miriam the Prophetess, leads the women in song and prayer:

"Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. And Miriam chanted for them: Sing to G-d....."(Exodus 15:20-21)

This Shabbat we honour the women of Beit Rayim who will follow biblical Miriam's example and lead us all in song and prayer. Let our children, the daughters and sons of Beit Rayim establish lasting memories of not only men, but also an....... Eema on the Bima!



January 20, 2018

It is most appropriate and poignant that next week on Shabbat Shira we will have our annual service completely 

facilitated and lead by volunteers. I like to think that if Moshe/Moses was alive today he would choose to daven with us at 
Beit Rayim, for in this week's Torah sedra of Bo, we find an interesting incident 
involving women and prayer. 

Our parasha  begins with Moshe in a heated negotiation with Pharoh. The latter has agreed with Moshe's demand to allow the Israelites to pray in the desert. Pharoh asks: "who will be going?" and Moshe responds "our young and our old , our sons and our daughters."  Moshe seems to be implying that the women, too, needed to come and daven with the men. Pharoh, concerned with Moshe's real intentions, decrees that only the males will be given permission to depart and pray to G-d. Moshe insists on the females being included and the negotiations break down.
From this passage one may deduce that Moses was the first egalitarian Jew.  
Perhaps he would have been comfortable praying with us at Beit Rayim!

May all of our sons and daughters grow up with the ability and the desire to know how to pray as a Jew! 



January 13, 2018

The Torah portion this week is Va’era. “Va’era” means “I appeared”, referring to G-d’s appearances to Moshe encouraging him to go down to Egypt to redeem the enslaved Hebrew nation.

Many events transpire in this week’s sedra including the first 7 of the 10 makkot, or plagues that beset Egypt.

The rabbis: why were the 10 plagues broken up into 2 groups and not all listed within one parsha, like the 10 commandments were in the Torah? Biblical scholar Jonathan Grossman

argues that they fall into 2 separate groups - while the first 7 were designed to admonish the Egyptians and enlighten them as to G-d’s existence, might and will, the last 3 were also

designed to enlighten Israel as to the same. As the plagues intensify, the goal is to get the

Israelites involved in the salvific act and not expect G-d to complete all the work of redemption by G-dself.with the culminating plague of makkat bechorot, the slaying of the Egyptian first-born, Israel still is not redeemed until she participates in her own liberation by offering the paschal lamb, preparing in haste to exit Egypt. From this we learn the wisdom of the adage,

“G-d helps those that help themselves!”

My friends, we learn that what allowed our ancient Israelite ancestorsfinally leave Egypt was their ability to contribute to their own destiny. This week the Torah reminds us that while help can emanate from many sources, the best way to accomplish anything is to realize what we can do for ourselves!



January 6, 2018

This week we begin the second book in the Torah, the Book of Sh’mot or Exodus.
This is also the first Shabbat in the new year of 2018.
May our new secular new year be a year in which we will fulfill the words we proclaim at the end of last Shabbat’s Torah reading: “Chazak chazak chazak v’nitchazek – we will be strong, we will be strong and we will strengthen one another.”
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Solar New Year.

Fri, October 19 2018 10 Cheshvan 5779