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

Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

Judge Your Peers Justly

  • Posted on July 5, 2019
  • Comments Off on Judge Your Peers Justly

We read this week of Korach and his followers’ uprising against Moses. Famously, God punishes them by causing the ground to open up and swallow them alive. The Talmud regards Korach and his people as some of the worst people in history. Rabbi Akiva, of “love your neighbour as yourself” fame, declared Korach and his Continue Reading »

Connecting with Nature and with God

  • Posted on June 27, 2019
  • Comments Off on Connecting with Nature and with God

At the end of this week’s portion, we read the commandment to place tzitzit (knotted fringes) on our four-cornered garments. Today, we tie these to the four corners of our tallit. They are meant as reminders not to stray from the commandments. The portion instructs us to place a blue thread, tekhelet, on each tzitzit. The midrash explains: “The blue reminds us Continue Reading »

For You Were Strangers

  • Posted on June 20, 2019
  • Comments Off on For You Were Strangers

This past Thursday (June 20) was World Refugee Day. As Jews, welcoming, helping and supporting refugees is perhaps our most important value. The main story-line of the Torah is about how we became slaves in Egypt and escaped. The result: twenty-four verses throughout the Torah commanding us to love the stranger, for we were strangers Continue Reading »

Enjoy God’s Blessings

  • Posted on June 14, 2019
  • Comments Off on Enjoy God’s Blessings

The Nazir (Numbers 6:1-21) is a man or a woman who voluntarily accepts additional restrictions upon him or herself, thereby achieving a level of sanctity above the usual. The Nazir state has a time limit, set by declaration when it begins. When it ends, the person brings an offering to the Temple, and returns to Continue Reading »

As the Sand of the Sea

  • Posted on June 6, 2019
  • Comments Off on As the Sand of the Sea

In our Torah portion this week we read of Moses taking a census of the children of Israel. Relating to that, our Haftarah opens with a beautiful verse of blessings: “The children of Israel will be as numerous as the [grains of the] sand of the sea, not possible to measure or count; instead of it being Continue Reading »

Listening to Good Advice

  • Posted on January 24, 2019
  • Comments Off on Listening to Good Advice

Parashat Yitro   After witnessing the splitting of the sea, Israel begins to travel through the desert towards Mount Sinai, and receives a visitor: Moses’s father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro). The Israelites receive their visitor very warmly. While visiting, Yitro notices that the Israelite society could be functioning in a much more efficient way. He sees that Continue Reading »

The Invisible Chaperon

  • Posted on January 15, 2019
  • Comments Off on The Invisible Chaperon

Parashat Bo Our Torah portion opens with God telling Moses, “Bo el Par’oh” – “come to Pharaoh.” Moses is told to go warn Pharaoh about the impending plague of locust. The language God uses to tell him to go, though, is a bit perplexing, as God tells him to ‘come’ to Pharaoh rather than to Continue Reading »

Faulty Miracles

  • Posted on January 3, 2019
  • Comments Off on Faulty Miracles

Parashat Vaera Moses performed the signs God had given him before Pharaoh, turning his staff into a snake. But Pharaoh’s magicians were able to do the same ‘trick’ through sorcery, leading us to wonder why God would give Moses an inadequate sign? What was the point? How ashamed Moses must have felt, seeing the magicians’ Continue Reading »

Four Blank Lines

  • Posted on December 20, 2018
  • Comments Off on Four Blank Lines

This Shabbat we read the end of Sefer Bereshit (Genesis), and next week we being Sefer Shemot (Exodus). Bereshit ends with Jacob’s and Joseph’s deaths. The Israelites are in Egypt, having come to live there while famine is going on. They live in Goshen and appear to be treated well. The Egyptians know that it Continue Reading »

Overcoming differences

  • Posted on December 13, 2018
  • Comments Off on Overcoming differences

When Joseph finally reveals his true identity to his brothers, he immediately tells them not to worry or be afraid. Although his methods of deceiving them, planting the cup in Benjamin’s sack etc. seem to be fuelled by a cruel desire for revenge (greatly mitigated by what was done to him, of course), his immediate Continue Reading »