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Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

Counting Blessings

  • Posted on April 3, 2020
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The Shabbat before Pesach is called “Shabbat HaGadol”, the Great Shabbat. This is because of its significance, being right before Pesach, and also because the word “HaGadol” appears in the special Haftarah for the day: “Behold I am sending you the prophet Eliyahu before the great (HaGadol) and profound day comes.”   Eliyahu (Elijah) is Continue Reading »

Radically Different, Radically the Same

  • Posted on March 27, 2020
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This week, our parasha deals exclusively with korbanot – sacrifices.   The concept of animal sacrifices is certainly one that is foreign to most of us, yet they played an enormous part of our communal religious life for at least 1400 years, from the construction of the Mishkan (tabernacle) in the desert until the destruction of the Second Temple Continue Reading »

COVID-19 Column

  • Posted on March 20, 2020
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Dearest congregants and friends,   Life sure has increased its efforts to teach us all to value each and every day, to live each day to the fullest, and not to assume anything will be the same tomorrow! This global, total lockdown happened so suddenly, without warning. And yet, despite all the weirdness and uncertainty, Continue Reading »

Erase but Don’t Forget

  • Posted on March 6, 2020
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The Shabbat preceding Purim is named Shabbat Zachor (“remembrance”) because of the additional verses added to our regular Torah reading from a second Torah scroll (Deut. 25:17-19). The additional verses describe how the evil nation Amalek took advantage of our weakness and attacked us from behind, while we were completely unprepared. We read these verses Continue Reading »

Creating Holy Spaces

  • Posted on February 28, 2020
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This week we being to read about the construction of the Mishkan (or tabernacle), the portable Temple that the Children of Israel used during the 40 years they wandered in the desert. The description spans four parashot –Terumah and Tetzaveh contain the instructions, and Vayak’hel and Pekudei describe the implementation. At the very beginning of Terumah, the parasha elaborates on how donations were solicited for the necessary Continue Reading »

I Am Compassionate

  • Posted on February 21, 2020
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In my opinion, one of the most beautiful Parashot of the Torah is Parashat Mishpatim, which sets the ground rules for a just and socially healthy society where everyone’s needs are met and the underprivileged and vulnerable are properly cared for, with dignity. The Parasha contains 53 commandments. Lending money is considered a religious obligation Continue Reading »

The Ten Commandments

  • Posted on February 14, 2020
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This week we read of the revelation on Mount Sinai and the giving of the Two Tablets engraved with the Ten Commandments. According to Jewish tradition, the tablets were enormous in both size and weight. They were likely made of lapis lazuli rock, and were one cubit tall, one cubit wide, and half a cubit thick (or 48 × 48 × Continue Reading »

Jump!

  • Posted on February 7, 2020
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This week we read of the parting of the Red Sea. On their way out of Egypt, the Israelites found themselves trapped between the sea on one side and the Egyptian army on the other.   The people panicked. Moses told them to have faith and to continue travelling towards the sea. And when they Continue Reading »

A Sign For You

  • Posted on January 31, 2020
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In our Torah portion this week we read of the Exodus from Egypt. The night before the Exodus, while the Egyptians were suffering from the final plague, Slaying of the Firstborn, the Israelites were sitting down for the first Passover Seder. They had been instructed to take a branch of hyssop, dip it in blood Continue Reading »

Returning the Favour

  • Posted on January 24, 2020
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This week we continue reading the story of the Israelites’ slavery in Egypt, eventually leading up to the Exodus. In this week’s portion we read of the first seven of the ten plagues. One of Judaism’s foundational values is showing loving-kindness to those in need. Loving-kindness towards others is central to the Exodus story as Continue Reading »