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Torah Thoughts: Yom Hashoah 5778

B”H Torah Thoughts: Yom Hashoah 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky   This week we are commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, or, as we say in Hebrew, Yom Hashoah Vehagvura. We remember the six million of our brothers and sisters who were killed by the Nazis and their partners in crime, during the dark years of 1939-1945. We tend to use the terms “Holocaust” and “Shoah” indistinctly, to refer to the sum of

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Shabbat – Pesach 5778

B”H Shabbat – Pesach 5778 Rabbi Daniela “The Song at the Sea” and the power of communal singing” The Torah reading for the seventh day of Passover (Exodus 13:17-15:26), which we are going to read this Friday morning, consists of the description of the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea, the crossing of the Red Sea by the Jews, and the song “Shirat Hayam,” “The Song at the

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Tora Thoughts: Pesach Eve 5778

B”H Tora Thoughts: Pesach Eve 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky   Why Do We Wish One Another a Kosher and Happy Holiday on Passover? We are almost ready for Passover! We have been cleaning, kashering, shopping, cooking.… Let the holiday begin! One thing we should definitely know is how to greet another person on this occasion. Let’s see! Of course, you can always say Happy Passover/Pesach, or the more usual Chag

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Tzav – Shabbat Hagadol 5778

B”H Parashat Tzav – Shabbat Hagadol 5778 Rabbi Daniela Why is this Shabbat called “Shabbat Hagadol” (“The Great Shabbat”)? This Shabbat, which precedes the festival of Pesach (Passover), is called “Shabbat Hagadol,” “The Great Shabbat.” Why does this Shabbat have this special name? There are many explanations. One of them is that the Haftarah (Malachi 3:4-24), the prophetic portion, we read this Shabbat speaks of the “great day” of God

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Tora Thoughts: Shabbat Hachodesh 5778

B”H Tora Thoughts: Shabbat Hachodesh 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky Matzah and Maror as “Main Dishes” This is a very particular Shabbat, when we read from three different Torah Scrolls (!). We begin the reading of the third book of the Torah, Leviticus, and that’s the reading for the first scroll. As we are celebrating the beginning of the month of Nissan (Rosh Chodesh Nissan) we read the appropriate paragraph regarding

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Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei 5778: Women’s daily labors in the time of the Torah and in light of International Women’s Day

B”H Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei 5778 Rabbi Daniela Women’s daily labors in the time of the Torah and in light of International Women’s Day In Parashat Vayakhel we may find a particular kind of description that is not commonly found in the Torah. We have, in this week’s parashah, details of women’s daily lives and activities. We usually read in the Torah details about the work of men in military service, in

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Tora Thoughts: Parashat Ki Tisa 5778- Giving and Receiving

B”H Tora Thoughts: Parashat Ki Tisa 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky Giving and Receiving Parashat Ki Tisa begins with God’s order to take a census of the Children of Israel in a very particular way. The Torah says, “When you take a census of the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to the Lord an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will

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Parashat Tetzaveh 5778 – Shabbat Zachor

B”H Parashat Tetzaveh 5778 – Shabbat Zachor Rabbi Daniela “The kindling of the Menorah and the kindling of the Shabbat candles” This week’s parashah begins by saying, “You shall further instruct the Israelites to bring you clear oil of beaten olives for lighting, for kindling lamps regularly.  Aaron and his sons shall set them up in the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain which is over [the Ark of] the

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Tora Thoughts: Parashat Terumah 5778

B”H Tora Thoughts: Parashat Terumah 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky The Law and the Love Parashat Terumah is the first of a series of five parashot that deal with the building of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, in the desert. The Hebrew word Terumah means “offering.” It is written at the beginning of this parasha: “The Lord spoke to Moses saying, speak to the children of Israel, and have them take for

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Mishpatim 5778

B”H Parashat Mishpatim 5778 Rabbi Daniela “Rejecting freedom is a way to despise God, the Torah, and its values” This week’s parasha contains the first body of Torah legislation, dealing with different topics related to daily life. I would like to focus on one of the laws related to slavery. It is written in the Torah that when a person who is a slave has the option to become a

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Tora Thoughts: Parashat Yitro 5778

B”H Tora Thoughts: Parashat Yitro 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky   The parasha for this week, Yitro, includes the reading of the Ten Commandments. The fourth commandment is the order to remember the seventh day of the week (Shabbat) and keep it holy. It is written in the Torah, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8). The question I want to ask here is: How can we keep

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Beshalach 5778

B”H Parashat Beshalach 5778 Rabbi Daniela We should not rejoice when a human being falls This week’s parashah tells us about the crossing of the Red Sea by the Jews, their redemption from Egyptian oppression, the song “Shirat Hayam,” “The Song at the sea” which they sang, and their rejoicing at the miracle of having been saved. This is one of the few times in the Torah that a poetic

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Bo 5778

B”H Tora Thoughts: Parashat Bo 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky   The Jewish People and the Land of Israel In chapter 12 of the Book of Exodus, which appears in this week’s parasha, we find the statement of a group of mitzvot (precepts) for the first time in the Torah. These mitzvot are mainly ritual, and they have to do with the calendar and mostly with the festival of Passover. For

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Vaera 5778

B”H Parashat Vaera 5778 Rabbi Daniela The Diversity of God’s Names “God spoke to Moses and said to him, ‘I am the Lord, I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as El Shaddai, but I did not make Myself known to them by My name YHVH.’” (Sh’mot 6:2-3) This is the beginning of this week’s parashah. Several questions arise from these words, concerning the names of God. God affirms that

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Tora Thoughts: Parashat Shemot 5778

B”H Tora Thoughts: Parashat Shemot 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky They will Multiply and Grow! This week we begin the reading of the Book of Exodus, Sefer Shemot. The Torah tells us that the generation of Joseph and his brothers died, but the Israelites were fertile and multiplied in Egypt. However, a new king arose over Egypt, a king who did not know Joseph. This new king was afraid of the

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Vay’ehi 5778

B”H Parashat Vay’ehi 5778 Rabbi Daniela “May God make you like Ephraim and Menashe” In this week’s parashah, the last parashah of the Book of Genesis, you may find the blessings Jacob gave to each of his sons before he passed away. Before that, he had specifically called his grandsons, Ephraim and Menashe, who were Joseph’s sons, in order to give them a blessing, too. It is written in the

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Tora Thoughts: Parashat Vayigash 5778

B”H Tora Thoughts: Parashat Vayigash 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky The Most Important Task: Educating our Children The parasha for this week begins with the famous speech by Judah to his brother Joseph. At that moment, Joseph’s brothers (including Judah) had not recognized him as their long-lost brother, and only saw him as the second most powerful man in Egypt. Joseph was accusing his youngest brother Benjamin of theft and claimed

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Miketz – Hanukkah 5778

B”H Parashat Miketz – Hanukkah 5778 Rabbi Daniela “Thoughts about the Dreidel” One of the famous customs of the Festival of Hanukkah is to play with the dreidel (in Yiddish) or sevivon (in Hebrew). What is the dreidel? The dreidel is a four-sided spinning top that children play with during Hanukkah. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter, forming an abbreviation for the Hebrew words נס גדול היה שם (”Nes Gadol Haya Sham,”

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Vayeshev 5778

B”H Tora Thoughts: Parashat Vayeshev 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky Do not favor one child over the others This week we begin to read the story of Jacob’s sons, especially focusing on the life of Joseph. At the beginning of our parasha, the Torah already tells us that Joseph was the preferred son of Jacob (Genesis 37:3): “And Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was a son

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Vayishlach 5778

B”H Parashat Vayishlach 5778 Rabbi Daniela Szuster “It is impossible to change the past, but it is possible to repair our actions with love and compassion” Last week, we read in the Torah that Jacob left the land of Canaan. He escaped from his brother Esau who had promised to kill him because Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. Jacob lived in Haran for a long time, he established a big family

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