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Rabbi Hillel's Blog | Beth Jacob Synagogue - Part 4

375 Aberdeen Ave., Hamilton, ON L8P 2R7 | 905-522-1351 | office@bethjacobsynagogue.ca

Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

God Believes in Us

  • Posted on October 11, 2019
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Ha’azinu is Moses’s final song, written immediately before his death. To distinguish it from prose, it is written in two columns. Moses composed this song and gave it to Israel with the instruction that they teach it to their children and “place it in their mouths” (Deut 31:19), to be familiar with it. It is full of Continue Reading »


  • Posted on October 4, 2019
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“On Rosh Hashana, they are written [in the Book of Life or the Book of Death], and on Yom Kippur [their verdict] is sealed” (from Unetaneh Tokef, part of Musaf on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur). According to tradition, during these ten days we have the power to fix our ways and have our verdict changed before it Continue Reading »

Looking to the Future

  • Posted on September 27, 2019
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Our Parasha opens with a covenant between God and Israel. When explaining this covenant, Moses emphasized that all of Israel were present (men, women, children, newcomers, leaders, dignitaries and labourers), and that the covenant applied equally to each of them. No one was excluded. Moses goes on to mention that the covenant even involves future generations. We Continue Reading »

Small Actions, Large Consequences

  • Posted on September 20, 2019
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Our Parasha contains what is a recurring theme in the Torah, especially in the book of Deuteronomy. It contains a long section with blessings for those who obey God and curses for those who disobey. As usual, these are mentioned as a way of encouraging good behaviour and discouraging bad. The existence of such curses Continue Reading »

We Are All Responsible For One Another

  • Posted on September 6, 2019
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At the end of this week’s Torah portion we read about a painful ceremony, intended for instances where a murder victim is discovered and the identity of the murderer is unknown. The elders of the closest settlement must perform a graphic ritual involving, among other components, washing their hands and saying “our hands did not Continue Reading »

The Mitzva of Saving Lives

  • Posted on August 16, 2019
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This week’s Parasha contains the verse, “And you shall diligently guard your souls…” (Deut. 4:15). “Souls” is understood as meaning “lives.” As such, this is the commandment to do whatever is necessary to stay healthy, and to avoid anything that could jeopardize our health. It is actually a religious imperative to eat healthily, to exercise, Continue Reading »

Tisha Be’av and Shabbat

  • Posted on August 9, 2019
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This Shabbat is the 9th of Av in the Hebrew calendar, the anniversary of the destruction of both of our Holy Temples in Jerusalem, in 586 BCE by the Babylonians and in 70 CE by the Romans. It is marked by a day of intense mourning, with a 25-hour fast from sunset until the emergence of Continue Reading »

Family First

  • Posted on August 2, 2019
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When in Biblical times, the Land of Israel was settled by the Israelites, two and a half of the twelve tribes chose to live on the Eastern side of the Jordan river: Reuven, Shimon and half of Menasheh. They felt the land there would be better for their animals. In our Parasha we see them Continue Reading »

The Peace We Await

  • Posted on July 26, 2019
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At the end of last week’s parasha, with a plague sweeping through the Israelites following some abhorrent behaviour on their part, Pinchas grabbed his spear and did something drastic. This quelled the plague and shocked the people back to the ethical lifestyle they were supposed to be practising on their way to the Land. The plague Continue Reading »

What if they too could talk?

  • Posted on July 19, 2019
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“Ten things were created on the eve of Shabbat (of creation), at twilight: the mouth of the earth, the mouth of the well, the speech of the donkey, the rainbow, the manna, the rod, the shamir worm, the script, the writing instrument, and the tablets. Others add: the demons, the burial place of Moses, the Continue Reading »