Parashat Hashavua

Portion Behar Bechukotai - Ending Vayikra Ending Shiva

Portion Behar Bechukotai - Ending Vayikra Ending Shiva
In Israel - is it also an end to the Premiership of Benjamin Netanyahu? Looks like it.
But looks are deceiving.
Facts cannot be denied. Peoples' souls left the world last week from Meron Mountain.
And hopefully complacency in light of the pain!
So sad - last week's tragedy at Merom - and just now families are getting up from Shiva Mourning!
So what did it all do in G-d's scheme for us all?
Yes, what is the promise of the last 2 portions in the Book of Vayikra - which we read this Shabbat- to end
the third book of the 5 (Pentateuch) Books?
We are promised the Land of Israel
No one said it would be easy
The portion describes it
Yet it deals with the Laws of Punishment for Murder
So What about politicians - who bicker over -
Just About Eberything?
 THE POLITICAL MESS they have caused?
What happened in Meron? 
What is happening in Amrica?
 Who must take care of the recklessness and responsibility of ALL the politicians?
What does the lack of government do?
Like THE GERER REBBE WHO CAME TO ISRAEL IN THE 30's to try to bring peace to warring religious factions?
The Almighty gave him a
 Place in Jerusalem! to Save his people!
May we all be so blessed!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Emor - on Death, and Holidays, Tuma and Tragedy

 Portion Emor - on Death, and Holidays, Tuma and Tragedy
(Tuma means :ritual impurity" - often associated with being in contact with a deceased person)
Yesterday in Meron, Israel, Somebody Slipped and their Fellows Fell;
And tragedy was like the Pandemmic ... And souls left the world last night on Meron Mountain.
Please o G-d, teach us your ways -that they enter into Every Heart! 
We Must not Fall -  We must not Fail -
for the sake of all Israel and the World.
There are no holy words to comfort after this tragedy...
The Almighty could not comfort Aaron on the loss of 2 of his sons.
I remember when I couldn't comfort my grandfather when he lost his second son (my Uncle Mo when I was 13)
And Moshe - Moses- cannot comfort us this portion - this week .. where
The Priest is enjoined from being in contact with the deceased in the beginning of the portion-
But can the end of our portion here -teachings of the HolyDays
connect holidays to help comfort those new mourners - or at least DIRECT us somewhat?
The Chief Rabbi says "don't start with the blaming." He is correct. But we need more positive ideas!
I say we Must Teach (sensitivity? decorum? safety? control?)
Reb Shlomo Carlebach said - we are supposed to SHINE ... shine a Holy Light
Into every heart and soul (maybe transferring some of what I wrote just above).
This week's Portion concludes with a review of our HolyDays - for many reasons ...
The Almighty  is found there in those Holidays-
and is waiting for us on Shavuote TO RECEIVE THE TORAH IN A PLEASANT WAY.
Not LIKE YESTERDAY on MOUNT Meron -but in Jerusalem, like it was in Mount Sinai
Shabbat Shalom - and may Hashem comfort all Israel soon - and all the world
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion AchreiMos and Kedoshim - Loving the People

Portion AchreiMos and Kedoshim - Loving the People
Hard sometimes,no?
But we ALL have what it TAKEs
Make someone smile and you can almost like them!
And if they say back "good morning" you will both remember each other
I am at the airport and keeping this short because I better not miss this flight!
Shabbat Shalom health love and Real Friendship
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Tazria Metzora Israel Independence

Portion Tazria Metzora Israel Independence

In this double Portion we are told

If a woman has a child - and she cant go to the temple for a month or two;

If someone has leprosy - and can't stay in an Israelite town but right outside -
they too cannot enter the Temple

Before we go further afield - or become bothered -
remember the story in the Talmud

One young rabbi asks the Master Teacher "where is the Messia"

and is told "Go to just outside Rome - he is with the lepers..."

You may want to write your own continuation of that story - but there's a lot of MEANING here...

So what to focus on for this week and this Portion?

Last night I prayed in a Sephardic Minyan;
At home I listened to the Memorial Day speech of President Rivlin
And Benny Gantz the lame duck Defense Minister
And the Chief of Staff Kochavi - pledging
to use every modern defice to protect our soldiers as they defend us!

This morning I prayed with the local Ashkenazim,
Was blessed by one of our Kohanim (Priests)
And we sand praises that 73 years ago the Almighty blessed us with a state of our own after 2000 years!

Now for Israel Independence Day -
Walking here to prayers -
I watched an Ethiopian mother kiss her baby
Said Kaddish in the National Religious Minyan -

And waited to sing Hatikva
And blow a big Yemenite shofar

Okay - after childbirth Women were not allowed in the Great Temple -

for a WHILE

And we - now 2000 years later

What have we given birth to?

Just 200 nobel Laureates?

a chance for peace for after 70 years of Attacks ...

What's that to lepers and sufferers of gonohrea in the portion?

For 2000 years we were treated like lepers!

The Moslems were not as bad as the Christians, but ...

Our homes were violated the laws of plagues (which require homes be dismantled)

For Israelites ... Passover was a redmption - with
Redemption defined by Rabbi
Something you gotta cry over for hundreds of years until the longing is a deep part of you -
And the Almighty knows that
Then it's time for us to Escape egypt!

Then we are redeemed

We cry from happiness when a baby is born

From sadness when someone is sick

Israel sends help in times of any disaster any where in the world!

So lets understand the portion in light of 2000 years crying and praying for deliverance

And peace in the world

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Shemini -Dearh of Priests and the World Wars

Today is Yom HaShoAh - Holocaust Rememberance day in Israel
I have to sadly say that giving 90 milion dollars to the Palestinian  Authority  that supports terrorists (with money) and murderers of Jews (in and out of prison) is an insult to the 6 million murdered by Nazis.
The world has a hundred years of European pogroms captured on film -
 proving the meanness of spirit that has returned to USA politics -
now freeing up millions also for Iranian sponsored terrorism and religious coercion around the world.
How stupid - since Iran will never retreat from calling Western people infidels and "dhimis" -sub class humans - and they repress those trying to return to a semblance of democracy like from pre- khomeini.
The 2 sons   of Aron  died in the Desert Sanctuary - they introduced -
A "strange fire" to the services there - and were consumed by fire.
Moshe  tells Aron his brother (at the Shiva) - that
Elokim told him " bikrovai ekadesh " - that the loss of those 2 holy younger priests
 was from their holiness-
Allow me to posit - they thought they could innovate - despite clear mandates from the Almighty -
they wanted to "make things better - and easier to make offerings". What's bad about that?
Good boys, Good intentions, Good ideas-
But the antithesis of holiness and G-dliness as the Almighty taught via Moshe our Teacher.
Didn't they learn from the Golden Calf incident?
Does the State Department of Obama Re-Treads think they will change Iran?
Let us ALL
Pray for sense (and write our Congressmen),
an end to US support of terrorists 
and murderers building nuclear bombs - 
all of whom are planning a war (and a Shoah) against the world.
Shabbat Shalom - Peace Health Love and a little Sanity to All the World
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Passover - Counting Omer - and Matzas?

Portion Passover - Counting Omer - and Matzas?
What a funny name for a holiday - Matza !
But that's what we use in the prayers!
Imagine if July 4 th was nicknamed Crackers (besides the cultural implications)!
So the Talmud explains a few meanings - look them up - but I propose another 
Every Hebrew word has a 2 letter  "root":
Matz is the basis of "found "
(2 letter root with no Alef)
On Passover we celebrate the holiday of finding -
Jewish freedom
our peoplehood!
AND look at things this way-
Counting the Omer - and today is the 5th day
We ALWAYS count up - and tomorrow is the 6th...- and -
Not counting down means
Not just "looking forward" to Shavuote
The holiday of receiving Torah
But that we are Daily Doing our Best Prepare for
FINDING (Matz) the Holiness, G-dly meanings in the TORAH -
Torah, from the Almighty.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy and Healthy
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Tzav and the Golden Monkey

Portion Tzav and the Golden Monkey
It's actually very hard to deal with so much this week -
cleaning and preparations for Passover ... 
so let's celebrate the ceremony of appointing the Priestly Family in the desert temple -
and remember the gold donations for building that "Mishkan" were to repent and remind-
about the Golden Calf sin (and so in our THIRD STORY IN PASSOVER PREPARATION)
We know the ceremony included
a smear of Blood and Oil on the big toe and thumb and ear of the annointed Priest-
Go in a righteous path
to Do the righteous things AND
not to be listening to those who would turn them aside from our path and our faith.
So this Rich Gentile Man has a pet Monkey he loves,
and a Jewish manager who he doesn't,
even though he does good work.
And he won't work on the Sabbath -
so he gets fired!
Rich Man Liked to count his golden profits - and have his pet monkey watch
So one day the replacement for the Jew knocks on the door during the counting and says -
The Jew wants his job back - or any job - so let's make him squirm a bit-
and get him back for half what he made before.
Nasty tricky replacement guy also tells the boss about how to squeeze other workers,
and the boss totally forgets about his gold for a while.
Later that night he remembers - and goes back to the counting room -
and is in shock!
The monkey is still there - but DEAD!
He's destraught and goes running out of the house.
Replacement guy doesn't want the boss to feel so bad - so he gets rid of the monkey.
Hey, he thinks - I'll throw it into the Jew's house and make a mess -
and then tell the boss the Jew killed his monkey to stuff it!
And he takes and tosses it into the Jew's window.
Next week replacement guy says - lets soo how cheap we can get the Jew back to work for us.
Lets go over to  see him now. And they do - 
But the Jew and his family are all celebrating Passover with silver goblets and beautifully-set table.
Where did you get the money for all this asked the replacement?
The boss said - yeah -I fired you!
And the Jew says -
The Almighty takes care of honest people!
I found a dead monkey here and gold pieces were coming out of his mouth - and we have all we need!
May we all find what we need
And use it to enjoy our Judaism and Jewish holidays
And the gift of the Shabbos
Shabbat Shalom - and a Happy and Healthy Passover
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Vayikra : Second Story – and When Forgiveness MeansNothing

Portion Vayikra : Second Story – and When Forgiveness MeansNothing

So – are we all getting ready for Passover / Paisach? Organizing things so you can "sell the Chometz" stuff in one corner and not all over?
Have some "break" time for a story? As we wrote last week – there are 3 stories which are suggested to be told over as preparation for Passover (and I hope t tell over another one at my ZOOm "ModelSeder" next week). We get to that soon…
But this week's portion Vayikra talks about animal sacrifices – which the world all did – during the first and second temple periods! How relevant is that to US?
Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach (of blessed memory) said (excerpted ideas here are from various teachings) " the problems of the world all stem from lack of respecting one another. In short (this is my abridged paraphrase), we let negativity and denigration degrade others – and then ourselves. He said about the Sin of the Golden Calf,
Imagine if you ask someone to show you a picture of their spouse, and they show you a picture of a calf and say "this looks like my spouse".
RESPECT – do you think this is respectful? The people in the desert made a Golden Calf and said "This is G-d". Was that a great honor to the Almighty?"
(And sadly, for a few hundred years, the evil kings (not the good ones) of the Israelites of the first temple period, had idols like calves set up for people to "worship". WHAT KIND OF WORSHIP AND RESPECT IS THAT?
So the portion teaches – sacrifice in Judaism is about atonement (like fasting on Yom Kippur). Rich people would bring a kosher animal, middleclass a bird, and poor people a flour offering – to the Temple.
The priests who were on shift to work there had some food – and the people who wanted to atone for some sin didn't eat – sort of like Yom Kippur. And it cost what it cost – AND IT WAS TO SERVE AS A LESSON to RESPECT and to FOLLOW A RIGHTEOUS PATH – and the Almighty.
In short – Why does Judaism not taut sacrifice today as a means f teaching respect?
Is it partly because of the SUPER NEGATIVITY AND LACK OF RESPECT
In this age of millions of murdered and missiles and mass shootings, of Russians maybe poisoning for politics, and Myanmar and China crackdowns (just lately) and and and…
And so the second story is about a king who loved his Jewish citizens, but as always, there were plotting politicians who used the Jews to sew hatred. Every day there bad guys would make up lies to tell the King and make him turn against the Jews.
The favorite RING of the KING went missing – and he ordered EVERYONE in the LA ND to LOOK for it! FIND THE RING AND SATISFY THE KING was the order posted on every wall and tree in the capital city.
"Not found not found not found" reported all the precinct captains.
The vizier who hated the Jews more than anyone told the king –
And who KNEW they were searching for CHOMETZ the night before – and so he said
let's go out tonight and you will see that the Jews are NOT even searching for the RING but are CelebraTING –
And that is not a respectful THING!
So the two went out in disguise that evening (of course followed by some FBI agents to protect them?) – with Magnifying Glasses poking here and there as if they were searching for the ring … and got to the Jewish Quarter – where everyone was singing.
The wicked vizier said "See, I told you they don't care about your orders."
The Jews were all over singing DAYENU DAYENU and more DAYENU very loud – and the incensed King knocked on a door – turns out it was the Rabbi's house - and asked very LOUDly!
"What's that you are all singing? What does that mean?"
The local wise Rabbi just said "It means ENOUGH ENOUGH ENOUGH", and looked at the hated vizier, who always tormented the Jews.
The King turned and looked at the vizier and said – enough? Enough of what?
Tell me the truth - YOU stole ring to get me angry at my faithful-est citizens! Right? And shouted
"Police- FBI – grab him!" And sure enough, they found the ring in the vizier's home and – well – you know about sacrifices now from the portion …
So please Bless Me that I don't forget the third story before next Shabbat
And I bless you all to say over some RESPECTFUL stories on Passover, and have
Even a little seder –(which means organization) – a little one being at least better than none
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portions Vayakhel Pekuday ...and a New Month to All

Portions Vayakhel Pekuday ...and a New Month to All
This Double Portion is perfect for architects and accountants ... 
(Because Moshe gave an exact accounting of ALL the donations to the Temple in the Desert AND
then he and his helpers AND ALL THE ISRAELITES set it up - 
quite a feat - if you look at the details in the portion!
But we mortals may get more satisfaction by looking at the spiritual side of - yes its coming in two weeks - Passover!
Practically speaking, crumbs are Chametz. SO
Why get rid of ALL crumbs?
Believe it or not, the Talmud says demons hide in crumbs. WHAT?
According to my teachers, the Talmud talking about demons in crumbs means germs and disease in rotting food... 
from a time period with little knowledge of sanitary issues.
Sorry here. You need to get rid of the crumbs, BUT
No, dirt is not Chamets! 
And we dont "sell the dirt" - only the bread-cookies-pasta stuff.
But the BIG question that stares us in the face (from the MAFTIR -
the last and SPECIAL Aliya this week -
What did our ancestors do that fateful night waiting anxiously for "the signal" from Moses,
"Yes!  We're Leaving Egypt"!
Were they sweeping out the crumbs? Vacuuming?
Eating the Passover BbQ?
Or telling over stories way back from the time of Abraham?
So I heard from Rav Levinger (the evening-before- maariv-class teacher here) that his Rebbes ordered:
That there are 3 stories we are ALL supposed to repeat this Shabbat before the New Moon (month) which comes on Sunday.
But I will not push my luck -
And will relate only  one each week,
for everyone to tell over one story each of the next 3 Shabbatote.
But first - Some Passover Rules
New clothes -for the Emperor? No - for EVERYONE for PASSOVER!
Yes new clothes before and FOR Passover
Special charity - give to those needy - especially now there are so many 
AND Clean out crumbs, but 
you can SELL - save - the booze in a separate place...
But the STORY-
About 200 years ago - and maybe 200 years before that-
 the booze runners had lots of ways to escape the "revenooers"
 (the tax collectors)
But they were always afraid - and
Sometimes got caught!
So this Jewish liquor runner stored his stuff 
(before Passover, to sell to the local Jews) - and
the Authorities found out
so he ran to the Rebbe - Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk
What are you afraid of? askeed the Rebbe
The "merchant" answered
"But but they know I stored the wine in the shul/synagogue cellar!
And they are coming!"
"Dont be afraid ," said the Rebbe.
"ut but but," said the booze runner!
Only be afraid of ONE said the Rebbe
Huh? But then he got it - the ONE AND ONLY Almighty
The police Came to the Lizensker (Elimelech) Rebbe and said
We heard of the illegal wine you are storing!
Go taste it, said Reb Elimelech.
And they did - but it tasted like Just Fresh Water!
And there was a Great Passover Festival that year in Lizensk
Because the water turned back to wine!
How ?
.Faith in G-d
Maybe only a little faith in the holy Rebbe  Elimelech
(And maybe because the wine smuggler was so thankful,
he was giving kosher wine discounts for pesach?
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Key TeaSah - When and How to Threaten - G-d? Yes - it's in the Portion!

Portion Key TeaSah - When and How to Threaten - G-d?
Yes - it's in the Portion!
But first -
Years ago on my first trip to Israel, I was privileged to visit a college buddy who took me one time to
Pray the afternoon prayer at his neighbor's house.
I didnt know how privileged I was until a few years later - when in yeshiva -
I realized the neighbor was Rabbi S.Y. Zevin
Editor of the encyclopedia talmudica!
He was also the Author of the book "SipooRay Hassidim" which has a story based on this week's Portion (I repeat it in short).
One time the holy BAl Shem Tov went for Shabbat to a little village -
but he wouldn't let the townfolk EAT their shabbat meal!
Until they all said Psalms until midnight - and then he let them go-
More or less the next morning the local gentile town drunk came by and asked for a drink - 
after which he blabbed -
The local LORD didn't let us eat or drink all night
He was just giving all the villagers guns and swords,
saying in the morning we would attack the Jews!
I myself, said the drunk, argued you are all nice people -
and always give me a drink when I ask!
But the lord there didn't listen until an old friend of his rode by
just before dawn -  and told him the same thing -
So he told us Told us to Go Home.
The Bal Shem Tove told his students, that
 the friend who rode by had passed on 4 years BEFORE -
BUT THE LOCAL LORD didn't know - and so I had everyone pray hard - and
the Almighty sent the old friend back as a messenger.
The Bal Shem Tov said he was a little "testing" the Almighty,
being there with the people who might have been wiped out!
Like Moses after the Golden Calf told G-d -
if you want to destroy the Israelites - take ME TOO!
And Moses sort of calmed down things - and the Almighty wants us all to
BE TOGETHER (and pray together)
So maybe don't "test" G-d too much - and
NEVER threaten the Almighty -
and just lets pray a little - for each other and prepare for 
the Almighty's holy Passover!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz