Friday, February 19, 2021
Thursday, February 18, 2021
Between this coming Shabbos and next, we will have obligations brought upon us by the calendar. These topics were addressed in the class on Tuesday, which is available on our Facebook page here: https://fb.watch/3KyGBGLtDn/
What follows is a summary.
The best way to fulfill the mitzvah to remember Amalek is through hearing it read from a Torah in the presence of a minyan. The portion will be read at the end of the Torah reading at the indoor and outdoor minyan (approximately 9:35am outdoor and 10:15am indoor), as well as immediately after the minyan (10:15am outdoor, 11:00am indoor), if there are people who come specifically for an additional reading. If one will not make it to shul, the following options are available (please note the note after the options)
1. Read Zachor - Devarim 25:17-19 - on Shabbos from a Torah you own
2. If that’s not possible, you can have in mind to fulfill the Mitzva when hearing the Torah reading Purim morning (before Megillah)
3. Read the portion from a Chumash on Shabbos.
4. Hear it on Zoom after Shacharis Sunday morning, approximately 8:40am on the daily minyan Zoom link. (see link below in Megillah Reading section)
Note: Even if one uses #2 through Zoom on Purim day, or #3 or #4 (all of which are not in-person readings), one should aim to come to shul when Parashat Ki-Tetzei is read (Shabbos August 21, 2021), and have in mind at that time that the Maftir reading (Devarim 25:17-19) is a fulfillment of remembering Amalek.
The fast begins at 5:39am and ends at 6:50pm. Those who are fasting, who plan to hear the Megillah at nightfall (6:55pm) should not break the fast until after hearing the Megillah reading. Those who will be hearing the Megillah at a later reading may have a light snack after 6:50pm, but halakha discourages a full meal until after Megillah reading, lest one fall or asleep or forget to hear the Megillah.
The best way to hear the Megillah is in person, from someone reading from a Megillah scroll – ideally with a minyan, but acceptable without a minyan.
Any reading heard through electronic implements, whether a microphone, telephone, or Internet, should follow the following criteria: it should be live (not a recording), the listener should have a text in hand (a Megillah scroll is ideal!), the listener should do whatever possible to say the words along with the reader. If any of these are not possible, one may simply listen. (This allowance and option will only be available while we do not have normal operations – in future years we hope to not have Zoom options for Megillah)
Those who are homebound or who need special arrangements beyond the indoor and outdoor options the shul is providing should please be in touch. There are possibilities for a personal earlier reading on Thursday evening or a personal mid-morning reading on Friday.
Note: When the Megillah is read without a Minyan, only the opening blessings are recited, but not the closing blessing of “Harav Es Reveynu.”
With Purim falling on Friday, the idea of having a late afternoon Seudah comes in conflict with our usual Shabbos preparations. As such, it is recommended to have the meal as a brunch or lunch (some will aim to start before Chatzos – 12:33pm), while aiming to be done, no matter the start time, by the beginning of the tenth Halakhic hour of the day, approximately 3:27pm. (Candlelighting is 6:02pm, Mincha at shul will be 6:05pm, and sunset is at 6:20pm) There will be an earlier Mincha at 1:02pm, for those who want to daven Mincha before having their Purim meal plus the final live Megillah reading of the day.
A “Seudas Mitzvah” typically includes bread, so birkat HaMazon can be recited. There are differences of opinion as to whether the meal must include meat, should include either meat or chicken or fish, or could be whatever you wish. In honor of Purim, it should include at least a little wine and bread as noted. Make it as festive as can be!
Matanot L ’evyonim requires that we give money to at least two people to enhance their Purim. Monies collected will be distributed on your behalf both in advance of Purim Day for use for Purim and on Purim Day here or in Israel. You can consider that part of your contributions will be delivered on your behalf on Purim Day – though in either case your mitzvah is fulfilled through enhancing someone else’s Purim.
Those coming to shul, can place cash or a check (made out to
“Anshei Chesed” and earmarked “RDF-Matanos L’Evyonim”) in the marked bowls or
give them directly me. For those who would like
to take care of this online, donations can be made through the online donation
portal - https://www.accbb.org/payment.
Purim is usually an incredible time of communal gathering and celebration. Due to concerns and precautions being exercised by a significant portion of our congregation, any efforts to reach out to neighbors we haven’t seen in a while, to simply share some Purim cheer, will be one of the best forms of enhancement of the holiday we can provide under our current situation. May it be as joyous a Purim as possible. And may we see next Purim to be a return to fellowship and gathering that is most joyous for us all.
Friday, February 12, 2021
Parshat Shekalim (with a nod to Mishpatim)
by Rabbi Avi Billet
Why should I fear in days of misfortune? The iniquity of my heels surrounds me. Those who rely on their possessions and boast of their great wealth, a brother cannot redeem a man, he cannot give his ransom to God. The redemption of their soul will be too dear, and unattainable forever. Will he live yet forever and not see the Pit? For he sees that wise men die, together a fool and a boorish man perish, and leave over their possessions to others. In their heart, their houses are forever, their dwellings are for every generation; they call by their names on plots of land. But man does not repose in his glory; he is compared to the silenced animals. This is their way; folly is theirs, and after them they will tell with their mouth forever. Like sheep, they are destined to the grave; death will devour them, and the upright will rule over them in the morning, and their form will outlast the grave as his dwelling place. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall take me forever. Fear not when a man becomes rich, when the honor of his house increases, For he will not take anything in his death; his glory will not descend after him. Because in his lifetime he blesses himself, but [all] will praise you, for you will benefit yourself. (Translation from Chabad.org/library)
Friday, February 5, 2021
“… at Mount Sinai the concept of a free society was born.“… long before Israel entered the land and acquired their own system of government, they had entered into an overarching covenant with God. That covenant set moral limits to the exercise of power. The code we call Torah established for the first time the primacy of right over might. Any king who behaved contrarily to Torah was acting ultra vires (beyond legitimate authority), and could be challenged. This is the single most important fact about biblical politics.“Democracy on the Greek model had one fatal weakness. Alexis de Tocqueville and John Stuart Mill called it “the tyranny of the majority.” J.L. Talmon called it “totalitarian democracy.” The rule of the majority contains no guarantee of the rights of minorities. As Lord Acton rightly noted, it was this that led to the downfall of Athens: “There was no law superior to that of the state. The lawgiver was above the law.” In Judaism, by contrast, prophets were mandated to challenge the authority of the king if he acted against the terms of the Torah…“Individuals were empowered to disobey illegal or immoral orders. The first example… was the Hebrew midwives who ‘feared God and did not do what the Egyptian king had commanded….’ It was on this tradition that Calvin – inspiration of the seventeenth-century Puritan radicals in England and America – drew, when he said, “prophets and teachers may take courage and boldly set themselves against kings and nations.” It was on the same tradition that Thomas Paine based his pamphlet Common Sense (1776), widely credited at the time as the inspiration that led to the American Revolution. Historically, it was the covenant at Sinai and all that flowed from it, not the Greek political tradition, that inspired the birth of freedom in Britain and America, the first people to take that road in the modern age.”
The Torah insists that man's perspective can and must be shaped by the spiritual-halachic values that give life its purpose. This is true not only with respect to belief in Hashem, without which life would cease to have meaning, but is also true with regard to the equally indispensable value of a proper approach to material goods.”
“… while the first group of the Asseret ha-Dibrot begins with theological commitment and then shifts to obligations of actions, the second half of the Dibrot commence with a focus on actions but conclude with values that are critical to an ideological commitment. Values and a commitment to principle is the foundation of the Torah, but the Torah's special approach to life demands that these be concretized in activities and norms. At the same time, the focus on actions and norms would be insufficient if it did not, in turn, produce and generate a more intricate halachic value system to govern the spiritual life of the committed Torah Jew. The process that begins with a commitment to faith- "Anochi Hashem Elokechah"- culminates with the profound impact of halachic reality manifested in Lo Tachmod, as the reciprocal interaction of thought and deed shape and define the halachic personality.“
Friday, January 29, 2021
- It seems that the Mon came only because the people complained. Was God really intending to have them starve? (This same question can be asked about every time they complain about water?)
- What lessons are we to learn from the Mon tale today? The Torah could have simply stated that God fed the people in the wilderness (as it does in Devarim 8) without going into all the details of the tale!