Seeds of Bravery

March 25, 2014

Rabbi Bill Kuhn delivered this d’var Torah last Shabbat and interpreted how we can all be “Brave!”  Last weekend was “Shabbat Parah” the first Sabbath after Purim, which highlights the connection between the holiday of Purim (last Saturday p.m./Sunday) and the festival of Pesach, which comes exactly 30 days later.

There are a lot of connections between these two holidays especially in perhaps the most important theme of courage.  The bravery of Queen Esther who convinced King Ahasuerus to save the Jews from Haman (Boo!) and the courage of Moses who stood up to Pharaoh and said “Let my People go!”

So Purim is the time to begin preparing ourselves for Pesach and to prepare ourselves to be brave.

This is why we chose this them for our Purim video.  It is done to the song called “Brave” by popular singer Sara Bareilles.  I’d like to thank Cantor Frankel for conceiving of this idea, and Rabbis Maderer and Freedman who helped organize, edit and produce this.

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How Do You Recharge?

March 21, 2014

One of you recently shared with me: “Question: If someone from the 1950’s suddenly appeared today, what would be the most difficult thing to explain to them about life today?   Answer: I possess a device in my pocket that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to humankind. I use it to look at pictures of cats and to get into arguments with strangers.”

On the Shabbat of March 7 -March 8 was the National Day of Unplugging.  Originally conceived by a group of Jewish artists, the day is meant to help us think differently about our re-chargeable devices in order to re-charge ourselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Parashat Tzav: The Torah of Fire and the Torah of Water

March 20, 2014

Some might think I’ve been spending too much time in The Fiery Furnace. (That’s the title of the original musical we are producing this spring starring our very own cast of RS students, based on a story from the Book of Daniel.) But everywhere I look this week, I see fire.

In Parashat Tzav, only a couple of parshiot into the book of Leviticus, fire is mentioned a lot. The description of each of the sacrifices brought to the priest describes the fire’s role in the process. It’s the fire that creates the burnt offering, that burns the meal offering, that consumes entirely the sin offering. The parsha begins with a discussion of the how the priest should dress himself and how he should keep the altar, before the long discussion of the different offerings commences. Eish tamid tukad al hamizbeach, lo tichbeh. The fire shall be burning always upon the altar; it shall never go out. (Levit. 6:6)

Fire is dangerous. Fire is powerful. Fire is beautiful. But fire is literally not tangible. You know fire, you feel it, you see it, you perhaps understand it or can even explain it, but you cannot hold it. Fire exists to transform.

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Brave! Purim 2014

March 17, 2014

It was a spirit-filled Purim at RS!  Enjoy this year’s brave video: