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The portion for Va-y'hi in the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll, the travelling haftarah scroll that visits a different synagogue each week and contains all of the haftarot, was sponsored by Temple Sinai, Los Angeles, CA.

FJMC Factoid: FJMC sent 20 mezuzot and several sets of tefillin to Bet-El in Madrid. We also obtained Spanish text books from Argentina to help them develop a curriculum for the school they wish to open. It will be the only talmud torah in Madrid.

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January 6, 2012 / 11 Tevet, 5772

Va-y'hi Askenazim 1 Kings 2:1-12

Musings: This is the third selection from the first book of Kings in the Haftarot that parallel the book of Genesis. If we were concerned with the story of the end of David's life and the succession of Solomon we would have read the Haftarot in a different order. If you are interested you might want to go back and read the Haftarah from Hayye Sarah (1 Kings 1-31) and Miketz (1 Kings 3:15-41).

Word to learn: Sheol The place where the dead are supposed to congregate. A synonym for “pit” or abyss. By the advice that Jacob and David deliver to their sons at the end of their lives, the introductory language of Torah and Haftorah is similar and both selections are similarly structured. Genesis ends with Joseph's death, “So Yosef died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Mizrayim." The Haftorah concludes; “So David slept with his fathers, and he was buried in the city of David. The length of David's reign was …..And Solomon sat upon the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.”

Joseph's message to his sons was metaphoric and is difficult to comprehend. David speaks to Solomon differently. He speaks in the language of a caring parent who wishes to impart final directions and advice.

What wisdom would you share with your children if you knew you were about to die? I suspect you would attempt to instill in them a combination of practical wisdom and the importance of living their lives in an upstanding way.

Listen to what David tells his son. “Be strong and show yourself to be a man. Keep the charge of the Lord! Follow the laws (live justly) and if you do, and if your descendants are scrupulous in their conduct and walk before me faithfully, with all their hearts and soul, your line on the throne shall never end!”

How many of us would fail to tell their children to live ethical honest lives? Very few I suspect. And then David shared practical wisdom, the stuff he learned at work and in life with Solomon.

“Be gracious with the sons of Barzillai for they befriended me when I fled from your brother Absalom.”

Finally, there are always some items left undone that the son needs to do in order to assure his role will not be challenged. Like Michael Corleoni in “The Godfather”, David tells Solomon, “Take care of Joab. See that his white hair does not go down to Sheol in peace.” Don't forget Shei son of Gera, I swore to him he wouldn't be hurt during my life. I am counting on you to take care of it.”

How many of us wish we had the opportunity to deliver our wisdom and our feelings before we too are buried with our fathers. The Haftarah reminds us that unlike David we will only have the opportunity to share what we believe is important, what we think we have learned and what still has to be accomplished with our descendants if we make the time to do so and then do it.

This week's Haftarah commentary was written by
Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of the FJMC and author of
"Building A Successful Volunteer Culture: Finding Meaning in Service in the Jewish" Jewish Lights Publishing.

New Publications

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.
You can purchase it a number of ways.
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.
You can purchase it a number of ways:
It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!

HeneniThe "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
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