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Torah Thoughts: Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot 5782

A Sukkah for All Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This Shabbat is Chol Hamoed Sukkot, one of the intermediate days of the festival. We don’t read one of the weekly Torah sections on this Shabbat, but a special reading related to the festival of Sukkot. Therefore, on this occasion I would like to offer a message appropriate to Sukkot. Regarding Sukkot, the Torah commands, “You shall dwell in booths (sukkot) for 7

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Haazinu – Sukkot 5782

The Festival of Sukkot, God’s Protection and the Benefit of Hugging B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster We are going to start to celebrate the festival of Sukkot this Monday evening, September 20th. During seven days, we eat, drink, have conversations with family and friends, read and some people sleep in a temporary structure, or hut, known as a Sukkah. The Rabbis of the Talmud offer two competing interpretations of the sukkah (BT

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Torah Thoughts: Shabbat Shuva 5782

A Good Start to a Good Year By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This coming Shabbat, the one happening between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, is called “Shabbat Shuva.” This name is taken from the special Haftarah we read during this Shabbat, which begins with the words Shuva Israel, literally “Return people of Israel.” Some people call this Shabbat “Shabbat Teshuva,” meaning the Shabbat of repentance. In both cases, it is clear

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Nitzavim 5781

Sincere Repentance By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky There is a beautiful paragraph on this week’s parasha, Nitzavim, that reads, “Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling for you, nor is it beyond reach. It is not in the heavens, that you should say, “Who among us can go up to the heavens and get it for us and impart it to us, that we

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Ki Tavo 5781

Appreciating the Advantages and Opportunities we Have in our Time B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster This week’s parasha, Parshat Ki Tavo, opens with the mitzva to bring the first fruits of one’s new harvest to “the place where Adonai your God will choose to establish His name,” (Deuteronomy 26:2), which we know eventually was designated as Jerusalem. The next verse continues, “You shall go to the Cohen (priest) in charge at

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Ki Tetze 5781

Lifnim Mishurat Hadin / Beyond the letter of the law By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky Some people see Judaism as a religion of precise law. However, the Jewish ideal is always to act beyond the letter of the law, or lifnim mishurat hadin in Hebrew, literally meaning, inside the line of law. Let’s see an example from our parasha, Ki Tetze.  It is written, “If you see your fellow’s ox or

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Shoftim

Judging Ourselves in the Month of Elul B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster This week we read Parashat Shofitm, which begins by saying: “You shall appoint magistrates and officials for your tribes, in all the settlements that the LORD your God is giving you, and they shall govern the people with due justice.” (Deuteronomy 16:18) If you check the Hebrew, you will find out that it is written literally: שֹׁפְטִ֣ים וְשֹֽׁטְרִ֗ים תִּֽתֶּן־לְךָ֙

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TALMUD CLASS FOR ADULTS 2021-2022

Ready to register?: Then click here! Who can study: no previous knowledge is needed to be part of this course. English translation of the text will be used, so no Hebrew or Aramaic is needed (although it will be appreciated). Course Description: During this course we will study Masechet Brachot (the Babylonian Tracte of Brachot/Blessings). We will meet for one hour each week at the Temple. A computer will be set up for each

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Re’eh 5781

Individual Responsibility By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This week we read parashat Re’eh, which opens with the following verses, “See, this day I set before you blessing and curse: blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I enjoin upon you this day” (Deuteronomy 11:26-27). When you read the original Hebrew text (unfortunately, there is no way to notice this in the translation), you notice that the

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Vaetchanan 5781

Looking for Comfort when our Dreams Don’t Come True B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster At the beginning of this week’s parashah, parashat Vaetchanan, Moses fervently prayed to God that he be granted the privilege of entering the Promised land: “I pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, “O Lord GOD, You who let Your servant see the first works of Your greatness and Your mighty hand, You whose powerful deeds

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Torah Thoughts on Parashat Devarim 5781

Happiness During Sad Times By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This Shabbat is a special one, called Shabbat Chazon, literally the Shabbat of the vision. It takes its name from the Haftarah that is read during Shabbat morning services, from the words of rebuke and doom coming from the prophet Isaiah (1:1-27). Shabbat Chazon falls always on the Shabbat immediately prior to the mournful fast of Tisha B’Av, the ninth of the

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Balak 5781

Finding Good in People Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This week we read parashat Balak. As the Israelites traveled to Canaan, their reputation preceded them, and the Moabites were well aware of the miracles that had accompanied Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Balak, the king of Moab, was scared of the Israelites and hence tried to engage the magician/prophet Balaam for the purpose of cursing them. I think it is interesting to notice

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Chukat 5781

It Heals and Comforts to Sing a Song as a Community B” H Rabbi Daniela Szuster Most of the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible, is written in prose, with the exception of a few passages which are written as songs. For example, we have the Song of the Sea in the book of Exodus (15:1- 16:21), the song of Moses in the book of Deuteronomy (31: 19-22), the song of the

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Shlach Lecha 5781

Spies or Scouts? By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky The parasha for this week, Shlach Lecha, opens with the famous story of the twelve spies, also known as the twelve scouts… Wait a minute! Spies or scouts? It is certainly not the same thing! I will try to explain why we call them both and what the difference is between the two terms. First, let’s review the story. Twelve men, leaders of

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Parashat B’haalotcha 5781

We should not give up; life gives us a second chance! B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster In this week’s parashah, parashat B’haalotcha, it is written that in the second year after the exodus from the land of Egypt, God reminded the people of Israel about the celebration of Pesach. The Torah tells us that the people of Israel celebrated the festival in the desert on its proper date. However, there was

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Naso 5781

Be Original, Be Yourself! By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This week we read parashat Naso, which is the longest Torah section. Not surprisingly, this parasha also includes the longest chapter in the Torah, Numbers 7, which includes 89 verses. This long chapter talks about the gifts (or offerings) brought by the heads of each one of the twelve tribes of Israel on the occasion of the inauguration of the Tabernacle. The

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat B’midvar 5781

The Torah has the Power to Transform an Arid and Desolate Place into a Beautiful and Fruitful Garden B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster This week’s parashah, parashat B’midvar is read on the Shabbat right before the holiday of Shavuot, the holiday which we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. What connection can there be between “B’midvar,” the desert, and the giving of the Torah? Many commentators, trying to

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Torah Thoughts: Parashot Behar-Bechukotai 5781

“Investing” in Blessings By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This week we read two parashot, Behar and Bechukotai. With this reading we complete the Book of Leviticus. Parashat Behar starts with the law of the Sabbatical year and ends with a mention of the Shabbat. Indeed, there is a common side to both mitzvot: the observance of the Sabbatical year and the Shabbat cause money loss to the person who observes them!

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Torah Thoughts: Parashat Emor 5781

Celebrating our Holidays While Helping People in Need B”H Rabbi Daniela Szuster One of the themes of this week’s parashah, parashat Emor, is the holidays of the Jewish calendar. Chapter twenty-three of Vayikra (Leviticus) describes the different holidays we have around the year. The list of holidays starts with Shabbat, then continues with Passover, the counting of the Omer, Shavuot (although it is not given a name), Rosh Hashanah (again

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Torah Thoughts: Parashot Acharei Mot-Kedoshim 5781

Adding Good Deeds to Ritual By Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky This week we read two parashot, Acharei Mot and Kedoshim. In the beginning of the first one we find the ritual of Yom Kippur. Indeed, it is the same reading we read on the morning of Yom Kippur. One of the first instructions for Aaron, the priest, about the Yom Kippur ritual is this, “With this shall Aaron enter the Holy:

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