Shabbat D'vrei Torah
Hi. Shabbat Shalom. I’m Margalit Schindler. I’m a freshman metalsmithing major.
Today is the 7th day of Passover, a very important Jewish holiday. To commemorate the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt we eat unleavened bread and avoid any food that may be contaminated by any grain. Keeping kosher for Passover this past week has taught me a few things. First, That Lisa is a great cook. Second, it has made me realize what it means to be a Jewish college student. Being Jewish means different things to everyone, which is one of the things I love about Judaism. But after this week of Passover, after carrying a box of Matzah around and bringing my own food to dinner in the Hub, to me being actively Jewish on a college campus means acting as a Jewish representative, as a delegate to our religion and our culture. It’s surprising, how little people really know. Classmates ask questions I would never even think to ask, because Judaism is so second nature to me. I know the answers to most of their questions, but explaining it is a totally different thing. Trying to explain Shabbat, or Bat Mitzvah or a bris to someone who has never met a Jew before? It’s quite a daunting task. There’s also a lot of pressure to be the "example Jew”, to follow the customs and rules I talk about.
The question that comes up most often is that of keeping kosher. What is it? What are the rules? No bacon??!?! EVER!?! Those I can answer with relative ease. But one classmate once asked me WHY we keep kosher. I thought about it…and I realized that I didn’t really know. I guess…because the Bible says so? But after, I really asked myself. And I answered: Yes, the Bible says so. But that’s not why I keep kosher. I do it because it’s a tradition that takes something mundane and makes it holy….which is meaningful to me.
At the Passover Seder, we ask the four questions. But if you look - there’s really only one question with 4 examples. I think this is the Rabbis indicating that questions are good, questions are important, we need to ask questions. However, we also need to be prepared to answer questions. The questions of non-Jews, of each other and of ourselves. We need to be the delegates, the representatives of our heritage, the positive role models of Judaism.
(Go to yourself)
Hi, my name is Kendall Lewis, a current Fashion Design student soon to be Art History/costume major possibly ….
This week’s Torah portion is all about “Journey”. And no, I’m not talking about that 80’s band that plays that one song for like every season finally for like every t.v. show. No. We are talking about a spiritual and physical journey. Lecha Lecha translates as “Go to Yourself”. My interpretation of this is “Go find yourself”, “Go where You need to be both physically and spiritually.”
Gen 12:1 says “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. “ This passage s G-d calling for Avram to make his spiritual and physical journey. This Torah parsha is very significant to me because I literally just embarked on the same journey that G-d called for Avram to do. This past Monday, my journey had reached significant milestone where I experienced a mikvah and a formal welcome in becoming one of the Jewish people. Before this, I’ve been on a spiritual journey on becoming formally Jewish.
As did Avram, I left my father’s house as a child and moved to a new land. In elementary school I connected well with my Jewish classmates and seem to “be” Jewish even though I wasn’t raised in a Jewish household. Me relating with the Jewish faith continued till I moved again to “new land.” There my bubbie gave me the low down on my ancestry: English, French Nobility, Russian Jew. Russian Jew!? I couldn’t believe that I had Jewish ancestry all this time. It was literally a Princess Diaries moment. At that point I wanted to be seriously dedicated to the Jewish faith. For a year and a half, I took classes, meet with a great rabbi, learned Hebrew, tried to learn Hebrew, and experience Jewish holidays with friends.
The past Monday was the peak in all this preparation. I formally made the covenant with G-d, as did Avram, I went before a Bet din (which, in my case was a couple of Jews who were knowledgeable in Halakah and active in the Jewish community), and was immersed in a mikvah (which is a ritual bath used for spiritual immersion). After that I was given my Hebrew name Shmuel bin Avraham veh Sarah which, just as in my case, G-d bestowed a new name for Avram: Gen 17:5 says, “No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham.” Amazing!
When Rabbi Lee showed me this weeks Torah portion I honestly got chills and it felt like one those eerie spiritual epiphanies. I just went through the same thing Avraham went through around 5,000 years ago! To me, personally, this Torah portion connected to me in a way that I too have gone through a spiritual journey and a physical journey just as our Jewish forefather Avraham did, but one can connect with Avraham’s journey in a less literally sense: the physical journey of leaving your “father’s” house and coming to university, the spiritual journey of finding how your Jewish traditions relate to you in this day and age, or the physical and spiritual journey of traveling to Israel. With everything considered, and what every journey you are on let it be noted that Avraham’s journey was about change. Change is an important element of any type journey one pursues. Thank you and good Shabbos.
Tishrei - Cheshvan, 5773
Hello my name is Dylan Webb and my Hebrew name is Noah Ben Gilah and this week I will share a few points from the Parshah Yitro, and how we can connect them to today. This week’s parashah is from the part of Exodus where Moses meets G-d on Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments for the Jewish people. As we know the commandments are the ten most important moral rules to follow. Many are easily known like not to kill or steal, and the one we are doing here keeping Shabbat. However in today’s world something that struck me is in a way one could say we worship idols, idols of material value that causes harm to ourselves and our fellow peers
A few reasons I believe materialism can be as worshiping idols are:
With some brand names it is only for a status symbol to show wealth and power For example many will buy the newest I phone not for their functionality or because their old one broke and is unrepairable but rather for the status symbol. Little to these buyers know that to make an I-phone it needs tungsten which is mined by child labor in Africa
We must remember all material items are a blessings not an automatic givens. They can be easily lost or taken away as gained and to put such great value to them only causes pain
The material craving never allows one to be content with what they have always more, more, and more
Material things may give one a temporary rush but never lasting happiness
Waste of wanting more than is needed makes a wasteful culture that can hurt the environment, and pocket for example Many people must have a certain brand name neglecting its practical use despite being able to get a similar thing at a thrift shop for much cheaper.
Let me share a story
Two friends were meeting each other to share a meal, and one had a North Face jacket the other saw this got jealous and created tension between them over a brand name and for that moment that jacket was valued higher than their friendship.
Putting such power to material objects distracts us from the most valuable things in life which ironically are mostly free like a beautiful sunset, socializing with friends, family, and spirituality
So let us remember that we should follow the commandments to not only follow the rules of G-d, and resist temptation but to live better truly happier, less costly lives.
Materialism is something we can’t deny but we can control to the point where does not cloud our eyes to the true essential basics of life: love, friendship, joy, creativity and G-d.
Hi. Shabbat Shalom. My name is Darin Navran and I am a Senior Economics Major.
This week’s Torah portion is called Terumah which means gift. Ironically my Jewish name Shae also means Gift.
Toward the beginning of this Parsha, the Israelites are wandering in the desert and are searching for an inner and outer purpose. G-d instructs Moses to tell all Israelites whose hearts are so moved for them to bring gifts, essentially gifts of gold and other metals, colored yarns, fine linen, goats and ram skins, spices, and other fine stones to make a sanctuary — the Tabernacle (Mishkan, מִּשְׁכָּן) — and its furnishings, so that G-d could dwell among them. The Israelites gave all they had, and bore instruction from Moses to construct their Sanctuary. G-d then instructed them to make the Ark of the Covenant of acacia wood overlaid with gold in which to deposit the tablets setting forth God’s commandments. After they created it, then they had to carry it everywhere, throughout the desert, for 40 years!! Man, that was a lot of work.
When I encountered this Parsha, I thought of this in terms of how people give and are charitable, and the daily remembrance of G-d. Many forget about who created them, and why they are on this planet. Others are thankful and become devotional, knowing every moment is precious.
We have it so much easier than our Brothers and Sisters do in the past. We don’t have to carry our temple on our backs day in and day out around a desert. We merely drive up with our friends to Hillel and attempt to have a sense of community. Essentially, we’ve never had more convenience than at any other point in history.
But when I look around, everyone seems less devout, less on fire, more relaxed and hypnotized. We know everything about the world and what’s going on, but nothing about ourselves. This is a horrible way to live. We watch people on Facebook, we know what’s trending or not, but we don’t spend that much time in prayer to know g-d, or have a strong sense of community, and charity.
While we are here, lets be 100% in our prayers, not gossiping, this isn’t the Dinner table yet. Only with the right kind of intensity and involvement, can anything blossom in your Life.
The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of your life is to give your gift away. Thank you.
Parsha Ki Tisa
The parsha this week focuses on the construction of the Sanctuary and the Golden Calf. When Moses did not return from Mount Sinai, the people decided to make a Golden Calf and worship it, as if it were G-d. Seeing how this upset G-d, Moses finally returns with the Luchot – which were the tablets that the 10 commandments were on. He breaks the tablets and completely destroys the Golden Calf that the people were worshiping. How is G-d going to react to what Moses just did? He broke the Luchot, the sacred 10 commandments! I personally thought that G-d would not forgive Moses so easily for breaking the tablets, however, G-d forgives Moses and allows Moses to create the second set of luchot.
As he returns to the people with the new tablets, Moses’ face is glowing, shining – so much that he must wear a veil; a veil that must conceal his face only when he is not speaking with G-d or teaching the people. But why was Moses’ face radiating? What gave him that certain glow that made him stand out from the others?
As I was reading the parsha for this week, two significant messages stood out to me: the ability to change and forgive. As we grow up, we have many focuses such as our goals in life, being successful, doing mitzvot, and leading happy and healthy lives. When Moses earned G-ds forgiveness for breaking the tablets, he was granted a second chance to do the right thing. He re-made the Luchot and earned a glow that no one has ever seen before. This glow can symbolize change and G-d looking over Moses – guiding him in a direction that allows for Moses to grow and learn from his mistake. We all change throughout our lives, every second, every day, and every year and even make mistakes – but G-d gave Moses a second chance, so we also deserve a second chance to do the right thing.
Even when Moses broke the tablets, the original, holy tablets that held the words of the Ten Commandments, G-d did not punish him. He allowed for Moses to fix his mistake and therefore, forgave him quicker than one would imagine. In life, sometimes it is not as easy to earn someone’s forgiveness as easy as Moses did from G-d. The parsha, Ki Tisa holds great important to forgiveness, change, and second chances – three things in life that we will all experience. Thank you and Good Shabbos.