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

Rabbi Hillel’s Blog

Tisha Be’av and Shabbat

  • Posted on August 9, 2019
  • Comments Off on Tisha Be’av and Shabbat

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
  • Comments Off on Family First

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
  • Comments Off on The Peace We Await

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
  • Comments Off on What if they too could talk?

“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 »

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 »