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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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Torah Thoughts Parashat Ki Tetze 5777 by Rabbi Daniela Szuster

B”H Parashat Ki Tetze 5777 Rabbi Daniela Szuster Everyone should be responsible for her or his own actions – If a child is failing in school, who should be held responsible? – If a parent is accused of scam, should his son be frowned upon? – If a young person who lived in a house full of violence commits an act of violence, who should be punished? Should the son,

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Shoftim 5777

By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky Looking Ahead to Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur While I am writing these lines, we are celebrating the second day of Rosh Chodesh Elul, the New Month of Elul. That means that we are only one month ahead of Rosh Hashana, the beginning of the new year. As you probably know, the Jewish tradition establishes that during the month of Elul, the last month of the

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Parashat Vayigash 5776 / Learning to express our emotions

Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to get provisions because there was famine in the land of Cannan. They saw Joseph, but they did not recognize him. He, however, recognized them, and Joseph put a number of obstacles in their way, making things quite difficult for his brothers. After several trips by the brothers from Israel to Mitzrayim, there finally came the moment when Joseph could no longer hide his identity.

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Parashat Miketz 5776 / Hanukkah

This coming Shabbat we will still be celebrating the festival of Hanukkah. The parasha of the week is Miketz, which is actually the same parasha we read in most of the Shabbatot within Hanukkah. This is a mere coincidence of the Hebrew calendar, but our sages are always eager to learn something else from these kind apparent coincidences. The question therefore is: Is there a link between parashat Miketz and

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Sermon Parashat Vaietze 5776 / Welcoming Shabbat

This week’s Parasha is Vaietze, which literally means “he left”. It tells the story of our patriarch Jacob leaving the land of Canaan to escape from his brother Esau. After carefully reading the parasha, we found many analogies between the beginning of it and our own lives right now. Please allow us to share with you some of them. This Shabbat we are being formally welcomed by Temple Beth El.

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