From our Hebrew School Director Liora Ramati
God: And remember Moses, in the laws of keeping kosher, never cook a calf in its mother’s milk. It is cruel.
Moses: Ohhhhhh! So, you are saying we should never eat milk and meat together.
God: No, what I’m saying is, never cook a calf in its mother’s milk.
Moses: Oh Lord, forgive my ignorance! What you are really saying is we should wait six hours after eating meat to eat milk so the two are not in our stomachs.
God: No, Moses, what I’m saying is, don’t cook a calf in its mother’s milk!!!
Moses: Oh, Lord! Please don’t strike me down for my stupidity! What you mean is we should have a separate set of dishes for milk and a separate set for meat and if we make a mistake, we have to bury that dish outside….
God: Ah, do whatever you want….
Every year we try to do our best, we try to do the right thing, to do good and inspire others to do as well…
Today, just before we are entering the New Year, the year of the Pad תשפ”ד, I wanted to talk about choosing between right and wrong.
We are all humans and none of us is always right or always have the right intentions in every situation.
It is not a coincidence that our right hand represents being right, even though in Hebrew it doesn’t have the same meaning. But the word right in Hebrew: Yamin does have almost the same meaning if not a deeper meaning.
When it comes to our hands in Judaism, the left hand has specific purposes. For example: The Mitzvah of being wrapped with the Tefilin is done on the left hand, after all it’s the hand closest to our heart. In toraht hanistar, Mysticism (Kabbalah), the right represents the Hesed – kindness (forgiveness) and the left represent the din – judgment.
In Jonah 4:11: “And Should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who don’t know their right hand from their left and also much cattle?”
This verse makes us wonder if not knowing between our right and left hand means that we are spiritually blind?
In the Babilonian Talmud, in Sanedrin (Supreme judicial body during and after the second temple), there are educational theories the explain right and left.
The Gmarah states that the left rejects and the right brings closer
תנו רבנו לעולם תהא שמאל דוחה וימין מקרבת
This is the secret of how to balance things in life. On one hand to be assertive, strong and keep following rules and stay in a frame of mind: gevurah (strength)
And on the other hand, the left represents the side that gives more love, warmth and kindness: Hesed.
In our life we need to use all the characters that we are fortunate to have and get them to work together שילוב- Combination/integration.
That will help us create שלמות – wholeness.
Shalav in Hebrew means step/phase and every step we take in life we should have the goal to reach wholeness and holiness
Binyamin, Jacob youngest son, his name means the one that holds the strong hand. It was thanks to him that Joseph forgave his brothers when he saw through Binyamin how his brothers changed their ways and didn’t leave him behind like they did with him years back.
The Selihot prayers are recited before the morning service during the month of Elul and between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The Ashkenaz jews only start Selihot on the Sunday before Rosh Hashanah.
Rabbi Kruspedai said in the name of Rabbi Yohanan: 3 books are opened on Rosh Hashanah, one for the utterly wicked, one for the perfectly righteous, and one for the intermediates. The perfectly righteous are straightaway inscribed and sealed for life; the wicked are straightaway inscribed and sealed for death; the intermediates are suspended and wait from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur (And I like to add they are in a waiting room), if they merit, they are inscribed for life, if not, they are inscribed for death”.
Just like I mentioned before, most of us are not perfect but now we know that it only means that we can improve.
I had a conversation with a friend the other day that mentioned he was worried about the world and that we might reach the bare bottom, but he didn’t hesitate for a second and said that this brings a great opportunity to rise up together as a community.
Ahazinu to a great story and teaching that I heard from a religious musician in Israel who goes to classes with a Rabbi. In the class there was a man who was a teacher and asked the Rabbi how can he be sure that his students listen to him and really take in his teachings. The Rabbi said: you should inspire to be like a kiddush cap. Just like the kiddush cap that we fill on Friday night to the top and some more, over-flowing that is how we should be, work hard on filling ourselves with good, blessings and Mitzvot and then all we say will overflow to everyone that is around us. We first need to take care of our own vessel before we want to have impact on the people around us.
Talking about singers, in Ahazinu (Listen), the Torah portion that is read between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Shabbat Suvah, we hear Moses, our great leader, the one that started his way barely talking, arriving to the end of his journey singing from the top of a mountain with so much confidence to the whole Jewish nation. I found a song of one of Israel best song writers, Neomi Shemer and I thought it will be the best way to finish one year and enter a new year: singing these beautiful meaningful words:
“To wake up tomorrow morning with a new song in our hearts
to sing it with strength, to sing it with pain
to hear flutes in the open breeze
and to start from the beginning
Also, with you
the celebration is over,
and at midnight
the way home.
is hard for you to find,
from the darkness we ask
to wake up tomorrow morning and start from the beginning”
Remember: Every day is a new beginning and an opportunity to start at new!
Wishing you all a Healthy, happy, and sweet New Year!
Beth Moshe Congregation is filled with generations of South Florida families with roots and traditional values.