Monthly Archives: April 2016

Apr 28

Shabbat – 29th/30th April 2016

By SAMS IT Administrator | Weekly Words Archive

From Rabbi Claudio Kaiser-Blueth

When the Canon, the collection of the holy books that constitute our Bible, was being finalised, without any doubt the most problematic and fiercely discussed book to be included was the Book of Song of Songs, Shir Hashirim. The book deals with a sensuous romantic dialogue between a king and his beloved. We have more questions than answers in regard to the book: who is really the king, was he a historical person, who is the bride? Why is the name of God never mentioned as well as the Jewish People, or any mitzvah that we should observe? The rabbis in the Talmudic period struggled with its inclusion – and some even suggested that it not be part of the Canon, since it would go against the general spirit of the other books.

The book was in real jeopardy of being rejected if it would not have been for Rabbi Akiva, who forcibly declared that the book is not holy but rather the Holiest of the holiest books. Moreover, he instructed all Jews in his generation and future generations to read the book as if the king is to be connected with the Almighty Lord, who is in eternal love with his wife, namely the Jewish People. Ani le’dodi, ve dodi li, “You are my beloved and I am yours”, are the words coming from this book.

Why did God take us out of Egypt, take us by the hand across the Sea of Reeds, through the desert, into the Land of Israel? What did we do to deserve so many and ending favours? The answer we hold in our hearts is that God is the source of an unending love for His people, which in spite of all our rebellions and stubbornness, his compassion is unlimited.

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach
Rabbi Claudio and Rabbi Rafi

Apr 21

Shabbat – 22nd/23rd April 2016

By SAMS IT Administrator | Weekly Words Archive

As the feverish preparations for Pesach are upon us, there is a period of limbo between when the cleaning and purging of chametz is completed and the eating of unleavened bread may commence.  Marking this boundary of time is the ritual of בעור ובדיקת חמץ  (biur and bedkat chametz), the searching for and burning of chametz in the house.  The ritual is great opportunity for family involvement, a sort of precursor to the search for the afikoman during the Seder.  I highly encourage you all to give it a go this year.  It is a ritual that takes just a few minutes at night then another few minutes in the morning.

This is a process by which we acknowledge that we have done the best that we can in ridding ourselves of chametz, but that even though we have been diligent, there still might remain bits that we forgot about, couldn’t get to, or simply didn’t realize were still in our homes.  This ritual acknowledges the quest for cleanliness from the impurities of the year, but also makes us realize that sometimes we can never truly rid ourselves of the particles of the year.  It can be seen to reflect us as people, that however much we may strive toward a goal, there are times when we inevitably fall short yet must continue and accept that our best will be accepted by God.

The process is broken down into 4 parts.

1. The search – After it gets dark the night before the first Seder, conduct a house-wide (or room) search for chametz.  This act symbolizes the removal of any chametz you may have missed in the days of cleaning that you have done to prepare for Pesach.  To prepare for the search, one person can hide a bit of chametz (preferably wrapped in a bag so as not to leave crumbs) in the rooms except for the bathroom.  Before beginning the search, say the following blessing:

ברוך אתה ה אלוקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו על בעור חמץ
Baruh atah adonai elohenu meleh haolam asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu al biyur hametz,
Blessed are you, Lord our God, Ruler of the universe who sanctified us by commanding us to remove all chametz.

2. Following the blessing, begin the search.  Turn of the lights and use a candle to illuminate your search.  Once a piece of bread is found, use a feather and spoon (if you have one) to scoop the bread onto a paper plate .

3. After the last piece has been found, a declaration is made stating that if there remains any hametz still in the house, that they become ownerless as the dust of the earth.
כל חמירא וחמיעה דאכא ברשותי דלא חמתה ודלא בערתה ודלא ידענא לה לבטל ולהוי הפקר כעפרא דארעא
Kol hamira vahameiya de-ika virshuti dela hamiteh udela viar-teh udela yeda-ehna leh li-ba-tel ve-lehevei hefker ke’afra de’ar-a
All chametz in my possession which I have not seen and have not removed shall be nullified and be ownerless as the dust of the earth.

4. The morning following the search, the bread you have collected and burn them in a fireplace, grill, or some other safe place.  Once again, after the chametz are burned, a similar declaration is made, stating that any chametz still in my possession are ownerless.

כל חמירא וחמיעה דאכא ברשותי דחזתה ודלא חזתה דחמתה ודלא חמתה דבערתה ודלא בערתה לבטל ולהוי הפקר כעפרא דארעא
ol hamira vahami’ah de-ika virshuti da-haziteh udela ha-ziteh dahamiteh udela hamiteh deviarteh udela viarteh libatel velehevei hefker keafra dear-a.
All chametz in my possession which I have not seen and have not removed shall be nullified and be ownerless as the dust of the earth.

I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom and a Hag Kasher Sameach (a happy and kosher holiday).

Apr 14

Shabbat – 15th/16th April 2016

By SAMS IT Administrator | Weekly Words Archive

This week’s Parasha, Metzora, is a continuation of the theme from last week, namely various skin maladies (tzarat) and other ritual impurities that cause an individual to be ostracized for a specific period of time. By reading a little closer, it may seem that these skin maladies are actually punitive in nature, that they follow directly from a prohibited behavior – in this case, speech, gossip or (in Hebrew) Lashon Hara. So what then is the connection? Why is ostracism an appropriate punishment for gossip or slander?

One of the characteristics of these skin maladies is the color that the skin turns. We are told of two important biblical characters, Moses and Miriam, who when afflicted, have their skin ‘blanch white like snow’. Both of these occurrences coincide with their gossiping or slandering. So it follows then that the skin malady is directly connected to the transgression of speech. However, is the connection simply a temporal one? Or is there a deeper connection? The Talmud compares gossip to ‘blanching another’s face in public’. So here in lies the direct connection. Just as slandering causes the one who is slandered against to be embarrassed and ostracized, the appropriate punishment therefore is for the one who caused it to also be forcibly separated from the community. Just as the social order is upset when gossip is uttered, tzarat removes the offender from the community, forcing him to consider the damage inflicted in a way that is similar to the damage he caused, in effect, giving him a taste of his own medicine.

I pray that we are aware of the power of the words we utter, the incredible potential for building up and for tearing down, and the damage we inflict on our fellow community members and ourselves when we speak those damaging words.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Rafi