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Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

Parashat Balak

  • Posted on June 29, 2018
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We read this week of Bilaam’s interaction with his trusty donkey. God “opens the mouth of the donkey” and it speaks to Bilaam, asking him why he mistreated it when it’s been so faithful to him over the years. Bilaam then realizes that the donkey was able to see something hidden from him – an Continue Reading »

A soferet is found

  • Posted on June 15, 2018
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In 2012, while she was living in Gothenburg, Sweden, Rabbi Yonah was contacted by a congregation in Madison, Wisconsin, who was looking for a soferet (scribe) to write for them a brand-new Torah scroll. The Torah was written over the course of two years, and in June 2015 the completed roll of parchment was brought Continue Reading »

Thinking for ourselves

  • Posted on June 8, 2018
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This week we read the story of the spies, sent by Moses to scout out the Land before the Israelites entered to conquer it. They brought back samples of the fruits – a huge cluster of grapes, pomegranates and figs – an image that later became the emblem of the famous Israeli Carmel winery. The Continue Reading »

Miriam

  • Posted on June 1, 2018
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Miriam, Moses’s sister, described in the Torah as a prophet and a leader of Israel, makes a mistake in this week’s Torah portion. She speaks badly about her brother, Moses, and his wife, committing thereby the sin of Lashon Hara, gossip. It seems like such a minor mistake. The Torah itself tells us that what Continue Reading »

Garden for God

  • Posted on May 25, 2018
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Words have power according to Judaism. “Death and life are in the hands of the tongue; those who respect it will eat its fruit.”(Proverbs 18:21) Declarations about our own selves have religious consequence; by declaring one’s self a Nazir, grapes, wine, and all their derivatives become strictly forbidden in the same way that non-Kosher food Continue Reading »

Shavuot is coming

  • Posted on May 16, 2018
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As Shabbat ends this week, Shavuot begins, the day of the giving of the Torah. Shavuot is about appreciating our heritage and traditions, remembering our mutual commitments with God, and celebrating the spark of love between us and the God of our ancestors. In addition to reading the Ten Commandments, the Book of Ruth is Continue Reading »

Taking a stand never gets old

  • Posted on March 23, 2018
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This Shabbat, which comes immediately before Pesach, is termed “Shabbat HaGadol”, “the great Shabbat” or “the Shabbat of the big one”. Various theories have been purported for the origin of this name, including the tradition that the rabbi delivers and extra long sermon this week about all the Passover laws, and the occurrence of the Continue Reading »

A New Month

  • Posted on March 20, 2018
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This Shabbat we celebrate Rosh Chodesh, the beginning of the Jewish month of Nisan, the month in which Passover occurs. There’s an accepted opinion in the Talmud (R.H. 10b) that the world was actually created on the first day of Nisan. Even so, we don’t do any special rituals to commemorate the creation on that Continue Reading »

Minyan Matters

  • Posted on March 20, 2018
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  Dear Friends, When we read this week about the Israelites finishing the construction of the Mishkan (tabernacle) in the desert, the Torah proudly states, “They said to Moses, ‘The people are bringing more than is needed…’ Moses commanded, and they spread word through the camp saying, ‘Nobody do anything else’… and the people stopped Continue Reading »