Our services this year will be held in the shul. As predicted last year, we are fully booked with members and have no casual seats available. We hope to have more room next year...
Question of the Week:
My brother is very religious and I am not. We are on good terms now, but for a while he disowned me for what he deemed as my straying from the path. Is this the Jewish way, to shun those who are less religious than you?
Let me share with you a different view. Here is a story of how a spiritual giant of the last century saw the religious/secular divide.
In the 1940's the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson, was looking for a sponsor to publish a religious text. The funding came from an unexpected source. An elderly woman who was known to be completely secular made a large donation to pay for this project. She had come from a religious background in Europe, but had long abandoned the ways of her family and raised her children without the traditions of her people. Nevertheless she maintained certain emotional ties to her past, and would occasionally support Jewish causes such as the Rebbe's.
When the book was published she was invited to a private audience with the Rebbe. He thanked her for her generosity, and then blessed her that her children and grandchildren should go in the path of Torah and be G-d fearing and righteous Jews.
This blessing came as a surprise to the lady. She thought the Rebbe may have mistaken her for someone else. Her children were far from anything Jewish, so why would he bless her that they be righteous Jews?
She said, "But Rebbe, I am not religious."
The Rebbe looked at her with serious eyes. Then he told her, "We don't know who is religious."
This response is striking. Here is a venerable rabbi with a long white beard telling an assimilated modern woman that we don't really know who is closer to G-d. He was not giving an easy excuse for rejecting Judaism. Rather he was completely destroying the idea of a spiritual hierarchy based on human standards. In true religion, there is no room for snobbery on the part of those who see themselves as committed, nor feelings of inadequacy on the part of those who feel they are on the periphery. We don't know who is religious. So we all need to try harder.
We don't know which mitzvah is the one our soul came into this world to do. We don't know how precious our efforts are in the eyes of G-d, even if they seem small in the eyes of man.
I have a problem. My fiancée and I never fight. I have heard that relationships can only grow through tension, that only when we have a disagreement and then work through it can we get closer. But what can I do? We simply agree on everything. Now I'm nervous. Should we be arranging some arguments? Maybe a weekly roster with a list of topics to fight about, and then make up afterwards?
Pre-arranged fights only work if you are a professional wrestler. Not so in a marriage. To get the desired effect, the argument needs to be real. I am afraid you will have to wait for an authentic argument to be able to truly reconcile.
This is based on some Talmudic logic. The Talmud teaches that one who has sinned but then asks for forgiveness comes closer to G-d than someone who never sinned. This means that a person who was wicked but left their evil ways reaches higher than a person who has always done the right thing.
If so, the Talmud asks, should a righteous person intentionally sin, in order to have the opportunity to change his ways? After all, he can't reach the level of a reformed sinner if he never sins.
The answer is no, he shouldn't sin. One reason is, he might enjoy it and never repent. But more than that, if he sins just to repent, his repentance will not be sincere because his sin was not sincere. If you sin just to get closer to G-d, you never rebelled properly. And if you didn't rebel, you can't truly regret. If you didn't actually go off the path you can't get back on.
The same applies in our relationships with our fellow humans. Just like you can't plan to sin in order to repent, you can't plan an argument in order to make up. It isn't sincere. Just as making up has to be genuine, arguing has to be genuine too. If the rift is not real, the resolution that comes later won't be either. You have to feel that moment of despair, when you think things have fallen apart and all is lost. From that moment of darkness comes a glimmer of hope, and you rebuild.
It is wonderful that you and your fiancée see eye to eye. But don't worry, times of tension will come. Two individuals sharing intimate space is recipe enough for some friction to eventually develop. And when it does, embrace it as an opportunity to learn something about your partner. If she never upsets you, she can't know who you are. If you don't know what her boundaries are, you don't know her. And you can only know those boundaries by accidently crossing them.
Every sin is a chance to uncover a more profound level of connection with G-d, and every argument is an opportunity to dig deeper in your relationship with your partner. To argue is human. To make peace is divine.
I am so embarrassed I don't know what to say. I bought a tomato sauce in the supermarket last week that I thought was kosher. I always buy this brand, but this time it seems I chose a different flavour than usual. After cooking with it and feeding my family, I read the ingredients, and to my horror, the sauce wasn't kosher! When I say not kosher, I mean as not kosher as you can get. It contained..... ham! I will do whatever I need to make my kitchen kosher again, I know that can be fixed. But what devastates me is, what can I do about what I ate, and fed my family?
You have a rare opportunity before you, one that even the holiest people never have. You can now make pig kosher. Here's how.
Every food has its nutritional value. Certain foods provide us with spiritual nutrition, and by eating them we become more sensitised to our souls. This is kosher eating. The Torah allows us to eat these foods, not because they are healthy for our body but rather they are healthy for our soul. On the other hand, non-kosher foods are the opposite, they block the connection between body and soul, deaden our perception of holiness and desensitise us from the world of spirit.
But there is an exception. There is a way that non-kosher food can elevate you. When the eating of non-kosher food itself stirs you toward spiritual growth, when you regret what you have done, resolve not to do it again, and commit to being more careful, what was a fall in spiritual observance becomes a step up to a higher spiritual plain.
This creates an amazing turn around. The pig you ate actually made you more spiritual. The sin had the same impact usually reserved for a mitzvah, it made you closer to G-d.
This is the law of transformation. A dispute, when resolved, makes friends closer. An argument, when handled correctly, makes a marriage deeper. A mistake, when seen as a learning tool, makes you smarter. And a piece of ham, when you regret eating it, makes you more kosher.
You should never deliberately start an argument, and you should never choose to eat non-kosher either. But if it already happened, don't feel down. Turn it around, and make the pig kosher.
Life changing lessons from mystical interpretations of Talmudic allegories
AT NEFESH 5 Roscoe St Bondi Beach
Wednesday September 7
8:15 - 9:15pm with Rabbi Chaiton
For Men & Women
Lunch in the City with Rabbi Gourarie and Rabbi Chaiton
Level 10, 2 Bligh Street , Sydney
Lunch served, all welcome
5:30pm Mincha followed by shiur
6:30pm - 7:15pm Shabbos Service followed by Kiddush
9am Class on Weekly Parsha
10am -12:15pm Morning Service with kids' program followed by Kiddush sponsored in honour of the first Yahrzeit of Alice Schreiber Z'L who, together with her first husband, Shalom Garfunkel, were founding members of the Machzika HaTorah Shul.
Mincha 5:15pm followed by Seudah Shlishis and Maariv