|November 16, 2012 / 2 Kislev, 5773
"Esau is Jacob’s brother, yet I have loved Jacob and rejected Esau." With these words, Malachi, the last of the Biblical prophets, reminds us of the essentially irrational nature of love. We can’t always decide who we love, and who we fail to love. Parents sometimes choose favorites. Even God.
In Parshat Toldot, we see the family of Isaac torn apart by the irrationality of love. Isaac seems to have a special place in his heart for Esau, his first born. Esau is wild, a hunter, impulsive and elemental in his nature, everything that Isaac is not. I imagine that Isaac is a little in awe of this son of his. Rebecca, however, favors Jacob, the planner, the wily one, who always seems to be two steps ahead of his big brother. It’s a recipe for disaster. At his mother’s urging, Jacob tricks his father and steals the blessing intended for his brother. It is an outrageous act. It tears the family apart. And, as Rebecca has known all along, it is God's plan.
Countless generations later, Malachi, living in the 5th century BCE, reminds Israel that God has kept faith with that irrational love. Following the destruction and exile at the hands of the Babylonians, the Jews have, against all odds, returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt their Temple, and resumed their national life. Whereas, Edom, the land of the descendents of Esau, lies in ruins.
But the Jews have begun (again) to take their relationship with God for granted. Their offerings in the Temple are perfunctory; indeed, they make a mockery of the Levitical standards.
"you say, 'oh, what a bother.' And so you degrade it- said the Lord of Hosts- and you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick…Will I accept it from you?"
It is human nature for us to sometimes take our most important relationships for granted. And then, there is a wake-up call. Even the One who loves us unconditionally eventually says, "enough!"
Malachi tells us in every generation to hear the wake-up call. We have so much to be grateful for and we are surrounded by miracles that are given to us through no merit of our own. But we take it all for granted, squandering our resources, our time and our abilities, degrading our planet and our relationships, and ourselves.
Malachi calls on us to remember "the covenant of life and well-being… and of reverence,” and to stand "in awe of My name." How would our live be different if we heard that call, if we approached each day with a renewed sense of reverence and gratitude?
This week's Haftarah commentary was written by Rabbi Dan Liben. Rabbi Liben was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and has served as the Rabbi of Temple Israel of Natick for 21 years. He loves Israeli Dancing and teaches mindfulness meditation.
Leadership - Innovation - Community
|Understanding the Haftarot:|
An Everyperson's Guide
In this stimulating and unusual book Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of FJMC, provides the reader with the context to understand how the haftarot were organized, why they might have been selected and suggests reasons for finding meaning and value.
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Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders
If family members and community leaders wish to become engaged in the process of Keruv they often need to ask, "Does Keruv have an ideology and theology? And if so what is it?" Then they need to learn how to respond to intermarriage from the perspective of both gender and religion. This publication reflects the most current thinking about intermarriage to date and attempts to provide family members and community leaders with the needed understanding to effectively work with intermarrieds or potential intermarrieds.
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|It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!
The "Build a Pair" Program is a comprehensive and fun learning program to introduce 5th, 6th or 7th graders to the joy and mitzvah of Tefillin in Jewish life.
Multiple components interplay to explore the religious significance, the construction of, and the practice of "laying" Tefillin.
A comprehensive education program with videos helps the religious school teach students the meaning of Tefillin in Jewish life and practice.
Students practice writing their Hebrew/Jewish names and the SHEMA (first line) to insert into pre-made wooden Tefillin boxes.
Students decorate the boxes in any creative way they wish, allowing for personal expression.
Students either compete or cooperate in writing a "wRAP" song to sing at a Big Event.
The Big Event can be the World Wide Wrap (WWW), sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC), held annually on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The WWW program is designed to introduce and re-introduce Jewish men [and women] to the significance of "laying" Tefillin.
The "Build a Pair" student program attracts the parents to see their children in their model Tefillin sing the "wRap" songs, allowing two generations (or more!) to join in the mitzvah together, and to let the students' sing their "wRAP" song for an appreciative audience.
World Wide Wrap is Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Bar Mitzvah Wrap!
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