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Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

Chanukah – why eight days?

  • Posted on December 6, 2018
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The Chanukah story is universally known. All the oil in the Temple had been defiled. They found one small jug of pure oil still with the Kohen Gadol’s seal, but it was enough to only last for a single day. Miraculously, it lasted for eight days – enough time for them to produce new oil. Continue Reading »

We Determine Our Own Destiny

  • Posted on November 29, 2018
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Parashat Vayeishev Continuing to read the book of Bereshit (Genesis), we observe the Torah’s objective of giving us a rather full picture of our People’s ancestors, including their less glamorous sides. They were human beings like us, with faults as well as virtues, and as such we can realistically strive to emulate their good qualities Continue Reading »

Being Prepared

  • Posted on November 22, 2018
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Parashat Vayishlach   Our parasha opens with Jacob returning homeward and preparing to meet his brother Esau after being away from him for an extended period. When Jacob left home, Esau wanted to kill him. Now, he’s unsure of how Esau feels about him. When he hears that Esau is approaching with four hundred people his fear increases. He has no Continue Reading »

Counting the Days

  • Posted on November 16, 2018
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Parashat  Vayetze   Jacob was required to work for Laban for seven years in order to be allowed to marry Rachel. The years passed quickly for him since he loved her so much. (Gen 29:20) This observation seems illogical. When a person strongly desires something and must wait and perform many difficult tasks to acquire Continue Reading »

Education That Fits the Student

  • Posted on November 9, 2018
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Parashat Toldot After years of childlessness, Rebecca became pregnant, but then suffered from a very difficult pregnancy. “Why me?!” she asked in frustration. She then goes to consult with God, and is told that she is carrying twins who are going to become bitter enemies, constantly at each other’s throat. Esau and Jacob are born. Continue Reading »

Address Given at Stronger Together, Hamilton’s Multi-faith Solidarity Vigil for the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh

  • Posted on October 31, 2018
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Temple Anshe Sholom, 215 Cline Ave N, Hamilton Tuesday, October 30th, 2018 ✡ כ״א מרחשון תשע״ט   How do you live your life, knowing there are those around you wanting you to die? Wanting those you love to die? Wanting your babies to die? How do you leave your home, knowing you might encounter someone Continue Reading »

Sophisticated Religion

  • Posted on October 25, 2018
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Parashat Vayera Last week, Abraham believed and trusted in God’s promise to give him and Sarah a son together, yet this didn’t prevent him from questioning if God would really do so given his advanced age. Questioning and cautiously doubting were not considered blasphemy, but rather an important part of having a sophisticated relationship with Continue Reading »

Celebrating Diversity: Parashat Noach

  • Posted on October 12, 2018
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At the end of Parashat Noah we read about the Tower of Bavel. The citizens of Earth were all united, living in the same place, and they wanted to build a  tower to keep them all together working towards a common mission. God saw this as a form of rebellion against God, and responded by changing each one’s language so that Continue Reading »

No Explanation Suffices

  • Posted on October 5, 2018
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Parashat Bereshit   Shortly after reading the creation narratives, we read of the first two naturally-born human beings, Cain and Abel, and their bitter argument which led to fratricide.   Cain and Abel both brought offerings before God. Abel’s offering was accepted, Cain’s was not. Cain and Abel exchanged some words, and then, while out Continue Reading »

Z’man Simhatenu: Our Season of Joy

  • Posted on September 27, 2018
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After the charged atmosphere of the High Holidays comes the festive week of Sukkot, called in our liturgy ‘Z’man Simḥatenu’ – ‘our season of joy’. Sukkot gives us the opportunity to stop our busy lives and remember that which is truly important. We leave our lavish homes and live for a week in a flimsy Continue Reading »