Always the same

Always the Same

Shabbat Candle Lighting Times for
Moscow, Russia
Friday, June 17th
Light Candles at 20:58

Weekly Kabbalat Shabbat Services 20:30
Join us Tonight!

Shabbat, June 18th,
Shabbat Ends 23:00
Torah Portion: Naso

Always the Same

A New York radio host was reputed to have once observed; “I hate synagogue, it’s always the same. Kol Nidrei, Kol Nidrei, Kol Nidrei” and many people would sympathise with her.

Jews who don’t step foot in Shul from one year to the next cannot even imagine what those who attend more frequently actually do there. “You mean you just go there to pray? In Hebrew? The same words and paragraphs over and over and over? With no one forcing you? Why?”

Why indeed?

Why do we insist on turning the same pages over and over, repeating the same words and performing the same motions? Stand up, sit down, stand up, take 3 steps back, bow, repeat. Weren’t you standing in the exact same place yesterday, or last week, or last Yom Kippur; why repeat it all over again today?

Some people are natural believers; a deep pulse of mysticism and faith throb through their veins and the prayers percolate unbidden to the surface of their consciousness. Every single time they engage with G-d they achieve an identical ecstatic connection of unbridled Divinity.

I’ve never actually met anyone like that.

Most of us, by contrast, achieve different outcomes from our devotions each time we pray. Sometimes it just flows; the words we read in our Siddur actually make sense and we can honestly feel that prayer is making a difference to our lives. Other times it’s a much harder slog to get through the davening and we find ourselves easily sidetracked or lost in a fog of distraction. Every time is its own journey and every time is different.

We might be repeating the same words, but it’s a totally new prayer.

There is a very similar interface described in tomorrow’s torah portion. The first twelve days after the Mishkan was inaugurated the Princes of the various tribes offered gifts and sacrifices to Hashem. On the face of it, the text is boring and repetitive. Each leader bought an identical offering and the same 6 verses are repeated over and over, with only the date distinguishing one man’s offering from the next. It would have been so much simpler to just tell us the details once and then inform us that the same was done every day. The torah could have saved 66 verses and we’d all get to the Kiddush earlier.

But that the point the Torah is making. Doing the same thing over and over is not necessarily repetitive. Each day was its own journey and every man brought his own perspective to the play. The days were different because the person making the sacrifice changed and every time they went through the motions they realised new possibilities and achieved a different outcome.

Every time I pray is the first time. There was a different man standing in my place yesterday. He might have looked like me, stood like me, shuckled like me and intoned the same words with the same accent, but I’m a new me now and right at this time and place I have another fresh opportunity to daven and connect with Hashem

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Yanky and Rivky Klein

This email is In Loving memory of my dear father
R’ Yerachmiel Binyamin Halevi ben R, Menachem Klein OBM

Wine and cheese

Wine & Cheese

Please join us for an evening of
Wine & Cheese.

We read from the Torah for the very first time at our new center.

The
10 commandments

Sunday June 12th,
18:00
At The IJC Center for Jewish Life

Shuvot

Shavuot

Shabbat Candle Lighting Times for
Moscow, Russia

Weekly Kabbalat Shabbat Services 20:30

Friday, June 10th
Light Candles at 20:54
Torah Portion: Bamidbar

Shavuot Night 1
Saturday, June 11th
Light Candles after 20:53

Shavuot Day 2
Sunday, June 12th
Light Candles after 20:54

It was the most important moment in our nation’s history.

G-d Himself descended on the mountain. Speaking to each one of us, He declared, “I am G-d your G-d!” and then presented us each with the Torah to keep and cherish. It was a moment of love and commitment; indeed, the day G-d gave us the Torah is called our “wedding day.”

And this coming weekend, during the holiday of Shavuot, we will celebrate this momentous event anew!

So how do we celebrate our marriage to G d? Well, not by sending flowers (although many communities do have a beautiful custom to decorate their homes and synagogues with commemoratory flowers and greenery), but by affirming our bond with Him and His Torah, and strengthening our relationship.

This Sunday, June 12, let’s all do our utmost to attend services at our respective synagogues and listen to the reading of the Ten Commandments, once again experiencing and reaffirming the deal we struck at Sinai.

And, since the Jewish children are the next link in the golden chain linking us all the way back to that fateful day in the desert, it’s especially important to bring our children, even newborn babies.
So let’s all be there, and encourage our friends, family and neighbors not only to celebrate the past, but to enjoy the present and to recommit for the future.

Wishing you and yours a joyous and meaningful Shavuot,

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Yanky and Rivky Klein

This email is In Loving memory of my dear father
R’ Yerachmiel Binyamin Halevi ben R, Menachem Klein OBM

Just because

Just Because

Shabbat Candle Lighting Times for
Moscow, Russia
Friday, June 3rd
Light Candles at 20:46

Weekly Kabbalat Shabbat Services 20:30
Shabbat, June 4th,
Shabbat Ends 22:41
Torah Portion: Bechukotai

Just Because
Think before you act.

I think that’s a good principle for life; it’s one I teach to my kids.

But it doesn’t always apply.

When I awake at night to the sound of my baby crying in feverish pain, do I pause for calculations? Do I weigh my options, balancing the inconvenient awakening with the distinct possibility that I may need this kid when

I’m a geriatric?

Nah. I just jump out of bed. Why? Just because.

Because I share a special relationship with my baby, a deep connection that defies description. When he calls, that extraordinary bond beckons, and I need to respond. So I jump out of bed, sans intellectual analysis. Just because.

Is it rational? Not really. But it’s not irrational either. Let’s call it super-rational.

I rationally understand that this relationship has tremendous depth.

My intellectual analysis confirms that this is a safe and intimate connection. When I genuinely feel safe in a relationship, when I can truly let my guard down, I can confidently move upward into the transcendent world of super-rationality, love etc.

The same applies to my marriage, and – perhaps in differing degrees – to any other deep, safe relationship.

I feel that way with G-d, too.

When I contemplate a Jewish practice, I want to understand its contribution to my life and my destiny; I want to appreciate how it elevates my consciousness and/or improves my day.

But that understanding and appreciation isn’t an absolute prerequisite. I feel safe enough with G d, confident enough in the rock-solid stability of our relationship, to do a Mitzvah ‘just because’. Actually, doing something for a loved one ‘just because’ (super-rationally as distinct from irrationally) adds a special flavor to the recipe of our relationship. It says ‘I trust you’. It says ‘I love you’.

Doing something for G-d ‘just because’ lays an extraordinary element to the bond we share. It says ‘I’m yours’ and ‘I surrender’.

So even when I can find personal benefit in my interaction with a loved one, I should always try to find a shining ‘just because’ at its core. Because commitment without a ‘just because’ is commitment of my mind and actions, but not commitment of my soul. For some relationships that’s enough, and for some relationships it isn’t.

Why did G-d create the world that way?

Just because.

Shabbat Shalom!
Rabbi Yanky Klein

This email is In Loving memory of my dear father
R’ Yerachmiel Binyamin Halevi ben R, Menachem Klein OBM