This week’s Parsha Perspective is dedicated in memory of Elka bas Zisel OBM
Dedicated in memory of Leah bas Rochel OBM
A common theme in Jewish life is the "rags to riches" story. A person is born and brought up in modest surroundings, with simple parents. The story then might continue in a number of ways. One is that he leaves school at sixteen, becomes a newspaper boy on the street and some years later is the chairman of a large business corporation. Another is that from his local school he wins a scholarship to M.I.T. and eventually becomes a famous scientist.
Although not restricted to Jews, it is often the Jewish story. Perhaps this is because this same pattern is seen in the life of first Jew, Abraham, the hero of this week's Torah portion, Lech-Lecho (Bereishis[Genesis] 12:1-17:27). G-d tells him "Go for yourself, from your land, from your birthplace and from your father's house, to the land which I will show you."
The Sages explain that this is really the basis of life for the Jewish people as a whole, the descendants of Abraham and Sarah. Of course, economic advance is only one example. In more general terms, we move out of our past, step by step, into a new and unbounded future, defined only as "the Land which I - meaning G-d Himself - will show you."
What did Abraham leave behind? Three different aspects of his origin. The first was his "land." The Sages explain this does not mean simply a geographical area. The term "land" suggests also the basic, earthly grounding of one's character. In order to advance, this basic nature often has to be transcended, especially if one is seeking spiritual goals.
The second term, "your birthplace," suggests all the limitations of one's environment. We Jews are undeniably affected by the cultures in which we live. Sometimes the typical rags to riches story describes a person becoming thoroughly a part of that culture in a very successful way: from newspaper boy to the House of Lords. Yet, at this point, there is the challenge to transcend the limitations of prevailing culture and to be able to be oneself, as a Jewish man or woman, maintaining Jewish values and Jewish observance. As many people have achieved - to be able to eat kosher food with “Royalty”.
The third phrase is "your father's house"- which can be understood quite literally; home background and early education. This is yet more obvious when considered in spiritual terms. The path of Jewish discovery leads to exciting new territories of the spirit, quite different from anything one has experienced before; for example, the joy of Torah study.
Thus each one of us is an Abraham or Sarah, leaving our natural limitations behind and advancing to the Land which G-d Himself will show us. This may mean the physical Land of Israel, but also every kind of new domain to which G-d leads us, wherever Divine Individual Providence will lead us. There we can truly discover the untold wealth of what it means to be a Jew.
(Excerpts from Chabad.org – by Rabbi Tali Loewenthal)
If you would like to dedicate the weekly Parsha Perspective in honor or memory of a person or occasion,please contact Rabbi Shusterman at email@example.com
This week’s Parsha
Perspective is dedicated in memory of Elka
bas Zisel OBM
Dedicated in memory
of Leah bas Rochel OBM
Our Torah portion
this week Noach (Bereishis [Genesis] 6:9 -11:32) recounts the famous
story of Noach and the flood.
Noach was saved from
the deluge of destruction that engulfed his world and his greatest contribution
is that he set out to rebuild that world. We don't read about him sitting down
and crying or wringing his hands in despair, although I'm sure he had his
moments. The critical thing the Torah records is that after Noach emerged from
his floating bunker he began the task of rebuilding a shattered world from
scratch. He got busy and picked up the pieces and, slowly but surely, society
Only one generation
ago, a great flood swept over our world. The Nazi plan was for a Final
Solution. Every Jew on earth was earmarked for destruction and the Nazis were
already planning their Museum of the Extinct Jewish Race. Not one Jew was meant
to survive. So even those of us born after the war are also survivors. Even a
Jewish child born this morning is a survivor -- because according to Hitler's
plan, which tragically nearly succeeded, he or she was not meant to live.
This means that each
of us, like Noach, has a moral duty to rebuild the Jewish world
is to take up the burden of service, reach out to others and exert ourselves to
the utmost in providing for their spiritual, emotional and financial needs. It
may be difficult, we may well suffer personal damage in pursuit of our holy
charge, but we dare not forsake our purpose.
fifth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, once attended a
conference of rabbis which had been convened by the Russian government in their
effort to ram through massive changes to the traditional Jewish educational
system. At the risk of their lives and liberty, the rabbis worked passionately
and collectively to protect our common heritage.
After the meetings
broke up, Rav Chaim of Brisk came to say farewell to the Rebbe and
discovered him sitting in his hotel room, overcome with tears.
he exclaimed, “you needn’t weep. You did absolutely everything within your
“Maybe so. But after
all that, we did not succeed in foiling the plans of the Russian government!”
Thank G-d for His
mercies that our world is, to a large degree, being rebuilt. Miraculously, the
great centers of Jewish learning are flourishing today once more. But far too
many of our brothers and sisters are still outside the circle. Right now there are
hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe and ignorant people to
Every one of us
needs to participate. We are all Noachs. Let us rebuild our world.
May you have a
meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!
If you would like to
dedicate the weekly Parsha Perspective in honor or memory of a person
or occasion, please contact Rabbi Shusterman at firstname.lastname@example.org
There will be a Simchas Beis HaShoeva farbrengen tonight At the Sukkah of Reb Moshe Gourarie, 11 Mohawk Lane, Pomona.
With special guest HaRav Leibel Kaplan, Rosh Yeshiva,Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim Lubavitch, Montreal. - at 9:00pm.
This Sukkot Perspective is dedicated in memory of Mrs Elka bas ZiselOBM
Homelessness is one of the saddest social phenomena. No matter how destitute a person may be, home always provides a needed sense of security and belonging. In fact, the need for a home is so great that the Talmud says that “one who does not have a home isn’t a person.” Physically, perhaps one can survive without a home, but emotionally speaking, a home is the most basic human need.
Needless to say, homelessness isn’t about where you may find yourself at a given moment. You can be at work, visiting with friends, stuck in traffic, or on vacation thousands of miles from home—it’s not about where you are, but it's the knowledge that there’s a little corner of the world you can call your own that gives you the peace of mind a home provides. (As the well-worn aphorism: “Home is the place that has to let you in when no one else will . . .”) A place where you can let your guard down and act as you wish.
This, the Rebbe explains, is what is so special about the mitzvah of sukkah. Normally, we are connected to a particular mitzvah (and through the mitzvah, to the One who commanded the mitzvah) so long as we are actually involved in its observance.
But sukkah is an exception. For seven days we are commanded to dwell in a sukkah; for seven days the holy shelter of the sukkah becomes our home. And as explained above, one’s association to his or her home isn’t restricted to the time spent therein. It is an ever-present connection.
For seven days we are intimately involved with a mitzvah, regardless of where we are or what we are doing. And it isn’t a peripheral involvement - just as our relationship with our home is never peripheral, it is so basic to our identity.
Perhaps we can take the lesson of the sukkah a step further.
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are just behind us. The theme of these holidays, as well as the preparatory month of Elul that preceded them, is teshuvah - usually translated as “repentance,” but whose literal meaning is “return.” After a year of wandering and drifting, we return. To our Father’s embrace, to our truest home, to the place where we always belonged. To our core Judaism.
One thing I have requested of G‑d, this I seek: That I may sit in the house of G‑d all the days of my life, to behold the pleasantness of G‑d . . . - King David, Psalms 27:4
But another year now beckons us. Once again, we will be forced to leave “home” for an extended trip. A daunting prospect, a depressing thought for the individual who is now savoring his brief stay at home.
Enter the message of the sukkah. Once we’ve established where our true home is, we never lose our attachment to home, no matter where we are.
Come what may during this new year, no matter how far from home life’s journey may take us, our internal GPS will always have its arrow pointing homeward. And that knowledge will provide us with serenity and security.
And we don’t have to wait until the next Rosh Hashanah to return. Make some time to escape back home every day - whether it’s morning prayers in the synagogue, or even the few seconds it takes to recite a blessing on an apple you are about to bite into.
If that is the reassuring lesson we take from the holiday of Sukkot, no wonder it is the most joyous of holidays! Is there anything more uplifting than the knowledge that you are never homeless?