Thursday, December 13, 2012

Do You Deserve a Miracle?

Chanukah tonight @ Nefesh 6:45pm - details below

The Dreidel

Question of the Week:

I was playing the game of dreidel, as we do every Chanukah, when someone asked what it actually means. I wasn't sure what to say, apart from being a fun way to spend time with the family during the holiday, and a kosher way to gamble away your savings. But I guess there's more to it... is there?



The Gragger

Toys don't play a major role in Jewish tradition. I can only think of two Jewish toys that are used religiously (unless you count iphones). On Chanukah we spin the dreidel, and on Purim we shake the gragger. The dreidel is a spinning top used in a game of chance. The gragger is a noisemaker that serves to heckle the wicked Haman, the enemy of the Jews, every time his name is mentioned in the Purim story.


But even toys have deeper meaning in Judaism. The dreidel and the gragger encapsulate the difference between the miracles of Chanukah and Purim.


When Haman stood to annihilate the Jewish people, it caused a mass stirring of emotion and spiritual introspection. The Jews knew that such a decree could only be averted if they changed their ways. And so they prayed, fasted, and recommitted themselves to Judaism. This awakening was the catalyst for the miracle that followed, with Haman's downfall and the Jewish victory over their adversaries.


In the story of Chanukah things were very different. The threat posed by the Hellenists did not inspire mass repentance among the Jews. On the contrary, many Jews of the time welcomed the Syrian-Greek occupation of their land and were happy to assimilate into their culture. Only a small band of rebels stayed true to their beliefs and fought the foreign invasion. And yet, a miracle occurred for the Jewish people, totally undeserved, not earned, a gift from above, and the Hellenists were routed from the Land of Israel.


So Purim is a miracle that was initiated from below, from the people and their spiritual turn around. Chanukah was a miracle that the people had not earned but came completely from above, from G-d.


And so on Chanukah we play with the dreidel, which we spin from on top, symbolizing the divine hand that intervenes from above to spin the wheels of history. On Purim, the miracle we earned from below, we shake the gragger, which is grasped from below.


This is the power of Chanukah, the miracle we didn't deserve. Chanukah is a time where G-d's light can reach the darkest of places, and we can all be blessed, worthy or not. Because sometimes G-d rewards us for the good we have done, and at other times He blesses us for the good we will do. G-d is spinning the dreidel, and on Chanukah we know it will fall in our favour.


Good Shabbos and Happy Chanukah,

Rabbi Moss


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Chanukah Menorah Lighting tonight Friday December 14th


6:00pm Mincha  

6:45pm Grand Lighting of the stunning new Nefesh Menorah (designed and built by Michelle Donde) - Don't miss the donuts!

7:00pm Shabbos Service





Summer Learning Experience 2012

At the BINA Library and Resource Centre

25 December 2012 - 1 January 2013

Cost: $15 per day or $65 for the week (excluding 1 January 2013)

337 Old South Head Rd North Bondi



Session One: 10am - 11am - A choice of four streams:


Men's textual Shiur - 25 December - 31 December

with Rabbi Danny Eisenberg

"In depth Talmud"

When is the moment of death starting from the Gemora Yuma



Women's Textual Shiur

  • Tuesday 25th - Jacob's Blessings - The Foundation of the Jewish Nation Part 1Mrs Dina gourarie
  • Wednesday 26th - Jacob's Blessings - The Foundation of the Jewish Nation Part 2 with Mrs Dina Gourarie
  • Thursday 27th - Jacob's Blessings - The Foundation of the Jewish Nation Part 3 with Mrs Dina Gourarie
  • Friday 28th - King Solomon's 12 Step Program with Mrs Renee Mill
  • Monday 31th - Prayer - Women in Tefilah with Mrs Deborah Blackman


Variety of topics with Rabbi Aron Moss (men and women)

  • Tuesday 25th - Superstitions
  • Wednesday 26th - The Kohen with the Long Eyebrows
  • Thursday 27th - Will Gentiles be Resurrected?
  • Friday 28th - Adoption in Halacha


The Best of Personal Growth with Rabbi Michoel Gourarie (men and women)

  • Tuesday 25th - Forgiveness Part 1 - What is it?
  • Wednesday 26th - Forgiveness Part 2 - How to do it
  • Thursday 27th - Ambition or Jealousy - Good or Bad?
  • Friday 28th - Strengths and Weaknesses - What to do with them?
  • Monday 31th - Truth or Peace - Is it ever okay to lie?

Session Two - 11:00am - 12:00 noon

Panel discussions and lectures

  • Tuesday 25th - Mamzer - The (almost) unsolvable quandary of halachic illegitimacy Rabbi Aron Moss
  • Wednesday 26th - The Case of the poisonous Sandwich - Protecting ourselves at the expense of others Rabbi Michoel Gourarie
  • Thursday 27th - Goal Setting - Joseph's Way Rabbi Yaakov Lieder
  • Friday 28th - The Secrets of Torah Scrolls, Tefillin and Mezuzot Rabbi Michoel Gourarie and Rabbi Shlomo Israel
  • Monday 31th Inheritance and Jewish Law Rabbi David Freedman

New year BBQ on Monday January 1st, 2013

Cost: $15 per person, $50 per family of 4 ($5 for additional family members)

Pool the Shuls

Are there to many synagogues in Sydney?

A panel discussion on this intriguing topic.


Children's Program:

While you learn we will take care of your children (Bookings Essential)

Babies and Toddlers 1-4 - Babysitting for little ones

Cost: $15 per child per day or $65 for the whole week

Children 5-7 years

Structured arts and crafts, Davening , learning and lots of fun

Cost: $15 per child per day or $65 for the whole week

Children 8-12 years

Boys and Girls program alternating between shiur and arts and crafts program

Cost: $18 per child per day or $75 for the whole week

Family rates for all children activities available




SERVICES AT NEFESH ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Friday Night Candlelighting 7:43pm

(not before 6:31pm)


Shabbos Day

Class - The Spiritual Parsha 9am

Morning Service 10am -12:20pm followed by Kiddush in honour of the wedding of Lawrence Goldberg and Kassy (Chana) Vic - Mazel Tov to both families!  

Mincha 7:45pm

Shabbos ends 8:46pm

Light 8th Chanukah candle



8am Shachris


Mon-Fri 7am


Chassidus Shiur Monday and Thursday 8:00-8:45am 


Latest Shema 9:13am


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