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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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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Vayetze 5778

B”H Torah Thoughts: Parashat Vayetze 5778 Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky Having Israel Always in our Mind Parashat Vayetze comprises a period of 20 years in the life of our patriarch Jacob. The parasha starts with Jacob leaving his home to go to his mother’s brother Laban, who lives in Charan, outside the limits of the Promised Land. Jacob is leaving home because his brother Esau planned to kill him (Genesis 28:10).

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Toldot 5778

B”H Parashat Toldot 5778 “Isaac’s blindness and how we can open our eyes and see the big picture” Rabbi Daniela Szuster The parasha for this Shabbat, Parashat Toldot, narrates the story of Isaac’s sons. First, Rebecca was barren, and then she was blessed and conceived twins. In their mother’s womb, the twins were fighting. It is written in the Torah: “And the children struggled together within her; and she said:

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Chayyei Sarah 5778

B”H Parashat Chayyei Sarah 5778 Rabbi Daniela Szuster “The sun rises and the sun sets” (Kohelet 1:5) This week’s parashah begins telling us about Sarah’s death. It is written: “Sarah’s lifetime—the span of Sarah’s life—came to one hundred and twenty-seven years. Sarah died in Kiriath-arba—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan; and Abraham proceeded to mourn for Sarah and to bewail her” (Bereshit 23:1-2). The parashah of last week, parashat Vayera,

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Vayera 5778 – Giving and Receiving by Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky

B”H Giving and Receiving At the beginning of our parasha Abraham is sitting in his tent, healing from his circumcision. At that moment, he sees three men nearby.  The Torah says: “And he lifted his eyes and saw, and behold, three men were standing beside him, and he saw and he ran toward them from the entrance of the tent, and he prostrated himself to the ground.  And he said,

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Torah Thoughts – Parashat Lech Lecha 5778 by Rabbi Daniela

B”H Parashat Lech Lecha 5778 Two different ways to approach God Rabbi Daniela This week’s parasha, parashat Lech Lecha, starts with the story of the first Hebrew, our patriarch Abraham. I believe that in this parashah, we may find two different and legitimate ways to approach and understand God. We may find that God addressed two different characters in different ways. First of all, God approached Abraham and commanded him

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Torah Thoughts- Parashat Noach 5778 by Rabbi Daniela

B”H Parashat Noach 5778 Rabbi Daniela The Wealth of Sharing Our Different Languages This week’s parashah, as its name indicates, recounts the story of Noach; the flood, the ark, and the return to dry land. The famous story of the Tower of Babel appears at the end of the parashah. The Torah tells that, at some point in history, all human beings spoke the same language: “And the whole earth

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Torah Thoughts: Simchat Torah 5778 By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky

   Dancing with Books! Simchat Torah‎, literally “The Joy/Rejoicing of the Torah” is the holiday that celebrates and marks both the conclusion of the annual cycle of the ritual Torah reading and the beginning of a new cycle. It also marks the end of the “holiday season” of the month of Tishrei, which includes Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret. The main celebrations of Simchat Torah take place

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Torah Thoughts – Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot 5778

B”H Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot 5778 “Sukkot and its universal meaning” Rabbi Daniela Szuster This week we are celebrating the Festival of Sukkot. The sages give to Sukkot and the Sukkah different kinds of meanings. Here I would like to highlight the universal meaning of the Festival of Sukkot. In the Torah, in the Book of B’midvar (chapter 29), you can find a description of all the offerings that the

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Yom Kippur 5778 by Rabbi Daniela “Why is there a custom to wear white clothing during Yom Kippur?”

There is a custom in our tradition to wear a Kittel (robe) or white clothing during Yom Kippur. What is the meaning of this custom? There are many explanations. I will discuss some of them here. 1) White like purity: The color white symbolizes purity and calls to mind the promise that is written in the book of the prophet Isaiah: “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Haazinu 5778 By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky

Only Sweet for the New Year   As you will receive this Torah Thoughts right before Rosh Hashana, I thought it would be appropriate to say a word about this holiday, instead of writing about the parasha for the coming Shabbat (Haazinu). We eat apple dipped in honey to symbolize our wish for a sweet new year. As you may have noticed, we use sweet apples for that purpose. Therefore,

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Nitzavim-Vayelech 5777 By Rabbi Daniela

“Stand up and go” This Shabbat we are going to read two parashot together: Nitzavim and Vayelech. “Nitzavim” means “you stand.” This parashah begins asking all the people of Israel to stand before God to listen God’s covenant before entering the land of Israel. Before starting a new and challenging project, the people had to stop and stand up to listen to the words of the Torah and think and

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Ki Tavo 5777 by Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky

May this Year and its Curses End and may the New Year and its Blessings Begin This week we read parashat Ki Tavo. In this parasha we can find the famous Tochecha Guedola, literally meaning “the great warning, or the great rebuke.” It is a long list of 78 horrible curses that could befall the Jewish people if they don’t obey God’s commandments. Although we also have blessings in our

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