"Why would a supposedly good, just, loving G-d allow so much suffering in the world?"
(I started answering and realised I was not talking on her level. Can you help?)
You are a bright nine year old. There are many things that you can understand, but your baby brother would not understand. For example, does your baby brother ever get a rash? I'm sure he does. So what happens when a baby has a rash? Mum applies cream to ease it. The poor little baby screams as his tender skin is stung by the ointment. But mum keeps going, ignoring the screams. As hard as it is for her to inflict pain on her baby, she does it, because she knows that it is for his good.
Imagine it would be possible to ask the baby how he feels about the situation. He would probably say, "I am being brutally tortured by the very person who is supposed to love me and care for me the most! My own mother has no mercy. She ignores my cries. Why is this happening?"
And there would be no answer anyone could offer. There is no way in the world we could explain to a baby that no, it is not torture, it is healing. Yes it is painful, but it is only being done in order to prevent pain and make you better. A baby simply can't understand anything beyond the pain he is experiencing.
We are all like that baby. In front of G-d, even the wisest and smartest person is like an infant. We look at the world and we see the suffering and we ask why. And no one can give us a satisfying answer. We can't understand, all we can do is cry from the pain. G-d is moved by our cries, it pains Him to see our pain. He understands us. We don't understand Him.
The gap between our minds and G-d's is even wider than the gap between a baby's mind and an adult's. The baby will one day reach adulthood, and he too will come to understand the ways of his parents. But we will never reach G-d. We cannot begin to understand G-d's ways.
But the baby still loves his mum, even though he doesn't understand her actions. So too we need not understand G-d to love Him. Somehow, all the suffering in the world is a healing, and every painful experience is there to teach and to fix. Why does it have to be this way? G-d knows. We don't.
CHANUKAH DINNER NEXT WEEK - bookings close, see below
Question of the Week:
I fear for the future of the Jewish people. When I look at my family and where they are headed it is not very promising. My grandfather was a rabbi, but I am not sure my grandchildren will even be Jewish. What is the secret to keeping Judaism alive?
I have yet to meet a Jew who doesn't proudly claim, "My grandfather was a rabbi." It seems that three generations ago everyone was a rabbi.
What they really mean is that their grandfather was an observant Jew. He probably had a beard, prayed every day, and was knowledgeable in Torah. He may have been a cobbler or merchant or baker, not a rabbi, but he was a committed Jew.
Anyone who identifies as Jewish today only need go back three or four generations to find observant Jews in their family. And from there an unbroken chain of Jewish living that goes back three thousand years. Not that everyone has always been observant. There have always been unobservant Jews. But we don't know their grandchildren. They have been lost to the Jewish community.
Jewishness without Jewish observance cannot last more than a couple of generations. Unless they rebel and turn to Judaism, the children of unobservant Jews will stop being Jewish altogether and assimilate. A family of unobservant Jews will lose one or the other - either the Jewishness, or the unobservance. You can't have both.
This is not a new phenomenon. Throughout Jewish history there have been individuals and groups who tried to keep a Jewish identity without Jewish practice. It has never worked. A vague Jewish ethnic feeling, devoid of any spiritual purpose and with no compelling message that is relevant to life, cannot last long. Only proud and authentic Judaism, that offers relevance and meaning, direction and inspiration, will stand the test of time.
In the times of the Chanukah story, a small band of faithful Jews stood up against the vast majority of Jews who subscribed to Hellenism, the Greek way of life. We celebrate Chanukah today because we descend from the faithful few.
The solution to Jewish continuity is no secret, it's obvious. Living breathing Judaism produces living breathing Jews. Do for your grandchildren what your grandfather did for you - be a living example of what it means to live a vibrant Jewish life. They don't need their grandfather to be a rabbi, but they need him to be a proud and practicing Jew.
Good Shabbos and Happy Chanukah, Rabbi Moss
Chanukah begins this Tuesday night. For more info click here
I am always fascinated by gender roles in Judaism. Why is it that women are the ones to light Shabbos candles?
Male and female down here on earth are a reflection of male and female up there in heaven. Just as humans come in two forms, so too G-d, in whose image we were created, has two ways to interact with the world. G-d is of course one, but G-d's presence expresses itself in two distinct ways, male and female.
During the working week, the divine male energy dominates. On Shabbos, the divine feminine element emerges.
The working week is a time of tension, when the demands of a material existence encroach on our spiritual life. And so it is the male aspect of the divine, an energy that is competitive and forceful, that is needed to face the challenges of the mundane week.
Shabbos is when we step out of the material world and enjoy a more peaceful existence. Here is where the feminine divine side takes over, an energy that is nurturing and tranquil, soothing and at peace with the world.
The human soul is described as the candle of G-d, for the soul was sent to this world to bring light. On Friday evening, the Shechina - the feminine aspect of the divine - descends to light up our souls and give them the light and warmth they need to illuminate the world in the coming week.
The light of our soul may have dimmed during the week, when the pull of materialism clouds our spiritual flame. But the arrival of Shabbos brings us an increased energy and brightness. Our souls vibrate on a higher frequency on Friday nights, we are more alive and spiritually open, thanks to the closeness of the Shechina, G-d's feminine presence.
When a woman lights Shabbos candles, she is emulating the Shechina. Just as she lights her candles, so the Shechina is lighting her candles, the souls of Israel. And so, the Zohar says, a woman should light candles with joy and deep intention, for at that moment she reflects her divine source, and she too lights up the world.
6:30pm - 7:15pm Shabbos Service followed by Kiddush celebrating the Bat Mitzvah of Samantha Rubenstein- Mazel Tov!
9am Class on Weekly Parsha
10am -12:15pm Morning Service with kids' program followed by Kiddush in honour of the upcoming wedding of Warren Minde and Sarah Friedgood - and the birth and naming of Lindy & Gavin Wertheim's baby daughter- Mazel Tov!
Annual Daniel's Shabbos Lunch sponsored by Daniels: Doctor, Harkham, Lowinger, Lutman,Meguedeche, Miller and Stein.
Shiur 6:40pm- Understanding Rashi
Mincha 7:40pm followed by Seudah Shlishis and Maariv
Shabbos ends 8:41pm
8am Shachris followed by breakfast and beginners' Talmud 9:00-9:45am
I never used to work on myself. I didn't think I had to. I am a nice guy and always was. Only recently have I got involved in Judaism and become more introspective and spiritual. But a weird thing has happened. I don't think I am as nice as I used to be. I have discovered a temper I never knew I had. And I feel more tempted to do immoral things than ever before. This really started since I'm coming to shul more and learning more about my religion. Does this make sense? Shouldn't becoming more observant make me better not worse?
There's good news and bad news. The bad news is, you were never a completely nice guy. No one is. The good news is, now you can do something about it. You can learn how by observing a pot on the fire.
Fill a pot with water from the tap and examine it. Does the water look clean? Of course it does, it is straight from the tap. Then put the pot on a fire, and watch it boil. Observe that as the water gets hotter, impurities start to float to the top. Sediment and dirt and all kinds of contaminants suddenly seem to appear from nowhere.
Of course they were there before, but they were so mixed in with the water that you didn't notice them. The water only looked clean. When put on a fire, the heat separates out the impurities and brings them to the surface. What seemed to be just an innocent pot of water turns out to be a mix of good stuff and not so good stuff.
Your personality is that pot of water. We can all look at ourselves and say, "I am a pretty good guy. I don't hurt anyone, I am not mean or cruel." For most of us, if we are not mass-murderers we think we are fine.
In truth, we all have darker sides to ourselves. We have weaknesses of character, bad attitudes and inappropriate urges that lurk beneath the surface. As long as we don't shake ourselves up, these impurities remain anonymous, blending in with our general identity. We are not so bad, and not so good.
It is only when we start to self-examine, when we probe into our inner workings and try to improve ourselves, only then do all the hidden gremlins start to emerge. When the fire of your soul starts to burn with spiritual passion, the ugliness that hid in the recesses of your heart appears in full force.
This is great. Because only when the impurities float to the surface can they be identified, isolated and removed. While the pot remained a mixture of pure water and sediment, there is no way to get rid of the dregs without losing the water. But once the heat separates out the two, it is easy to skim off the surface residue and the water is clear.
So the choice is yours. Live a life of mediocrity, a lukewarm pot of water that seems all nice but is really just mixed up. Or let the fire of your soul expose your inner weaknesses, so you can face them and boil them away.
We are looking to improve our kids area by acquiring the following toys and equipment. If you have anything in this list in good condition that you would like to donate, or would like to buy anything for the shul, please contact Nechama Dina, firstname.lastname@example.org : or
Toy Kitchen Outdoor jungle gym
Kitchen toys Dress ups
Ride ons Jewish books
Lego Dolls and prams
Pretend play toys Pretend torah
Thanks on behalf of the Nefesh kids!
SOCCER AND BBQ - NEFESH vs CHABAD DOUBLE BAY Sunday December 4 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NEFESH SERVICES - 54 Roscoe St Bondi Beach
Candlelighting 7:33pm (not before 6:22pm)
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 celebrating the upcoming wedding of David Bighel and Jennifer Goldberg - Mazel Tov!
Shiur 6:35pm- Understanding Rashi
Mincha 7:35pm followed by Seudah Shlishis and Maariv
Shabbos ends 8:35pm
8am Shachris followed by breakfast and beginners' Talmud 9:00-9:45am