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

Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

On Humans and Angels

  • Posted on November 15, 2019
  • Comments Off on On Humans and Angels

Our Torah portion opens with Abraham and Sarah being visited by three angels. At their first appearance, it says that “[Abraham] lifted his eyes and saw three people…” Initially Abraham and Sarah assumed they were human. Only later do Abraham and Sarah find out that they were angels. Upon leaving Abraham and Sarah’s tent, two Continue Reading »

Being a Blessing

  • Posted on November 7, 2019
  • Comments Off on Being a Blessing

When God tells Abram (before his name was changed to Abraham) to leave his land, birthplace and father’s home and to go to the land which shall be indicated, God promises him, “I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you and magnify your name, and you shall be a blessing.”    Continue Reading »

Who is a real Tzaddik?

  • Posted on November 1, 2019
  • Comments Off on Who is a real Tzaddik?

While the Torah attests that Noah was a tzaddik – righteous – the Sages were conflicted over how righteous he really was. The verse says that he “was a righteous person in his generation” (Gen 6:9). Some Sages read this as a compliment: if he was righteous even in his unsavoury generation, how much more righteous would Continue Reading »

Keepers of Each Other

  • Posted on October 25, 2019
  • Comments Off on Keepers of Each Other

When God asked Cain, “Where is Abel your brother,” Cain responded, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” – a response that has achieved universal fame. An interesting part of this interaction is the way Cain lies to God and then throws the question back in God’s face. Knowing God is all-knowing and Continue Reading »

God Believes in Us

  • Posted on October 11, 2019
  • Comments Off on God Believes in Us

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 »

Returning

  • Posted on October 4, 2019
  • Comments Off on Returning

“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
  • Comments Off on Looking to the Future

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
  • Comments Off on Small Actions, Large Consequences

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
  • Comments Off on We Are All Responsible For One Another

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
  • Comments Off on The Mitzva of Saving Lives

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 »