8/22/2013

Schedule for Next Two Weeks

Shabbat Ki Tavo
August 23rd Candles 7.23pm
24th Havdalah 8.16pm

Shabbat Netzavim Vayeleh
August 30th Candles 7.13pm 31st
Havdalah 8.11pm

Rosh Hashanah
Wednesday evening September 4th Candles 7.05pm
First Day Thursday 5th Service 9.30am Candles 8.11pm
Second Day Friday 6th Service 9.30am Candles 7.00pm

Shabbat Shuvah
Service 9.30am
Havdalah 8.00pm



I will be away until Rosh Hashanah.

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Jeremy

8/08/2013

Shabbat Shoftim

Candles Friday 9th at 7.42pm
Havdalah 10th at 8.36pm

“9. When you come into the land which the Lord is giving you, you shall not imitate the other nations or learn to do the bad things that they do. 10. You must not use divination, soothsayers, enchanters, spell makers, charmers, mediums, wizards or people who claim to speak to spirits and souls of the dead. 12. For people who do these things are detested by the Lord. 13. You should only go to the Lord your God.”

It is so clear from the Torah we read this week that we should have nothing to do with astrologers, tarot card readers or even religious Jews who use spells or magic or claim to speak to the dead or have special powers. In the same way it is strange how we recite prayers to God whom we ignore throughout the year without  living religious lives.

As the saying goes “There are no atheists in a foxhole.” When people are a crisis they turn to anything and everything. Despite what the Torah says we remain a highly superstitious and credulous people and the less we know the more superstitious we are. You might say that is just human nature. In fact it’s no bad thing when something bad happens to stop and examine our values.

The fact is that we can, all of us, develop a close personal relationship with God although most of us do not bother to. So when we are desperate we have an existing relationship to draw strength from.  We simply have to come terms with life and death. We cannot know why God allows some to get better and others do not. There is no logic to it that we humans can discover.

Nevertheless if we turn to God in a crisis surely we should be investing in that relationship. Otherwise we treat God like a casino machine. We put some money in and we pray and hope we will win the jackpot. It might work. You might be lucky. But it makes much more sense to invest wisely throughout the year.

Religion is indeed an investment. It helps us strengthen ourselves, fortify our spirit to deal with bad times and enjoy the good ones by sharing and helping others.

REMEMBER: Rosh Hashanah is Sept 5th & 6th

8/02/2013

Shabbat Re'ey

Candles August 2nd at 7:51pm
Havdalah August 3rd at 8:44pm
Mevarchin Rosh Hodesh Ellul Tuesday Aug 6th & Wednesday 7th

We start saying Slihot, extra prayers every morning in preparation for the Holy Days.

So much of this week’s reading is devoted to warning the Children of Israel not to follow the religion and fashions of the Canaanites they were coming to displace. The Israelite mission was to live a considered, thoughtful life, not the random, superstitious, loose and indulgent life of the pagans.

What characterized Canaanite paganism was the disguising of one’s true outward and inward self. Masks, body paint, tattoos and defacing, were all characteristic of their pagan religion, as well as child sacrifice and torture.

Judaism encouraged pleasure but in a disciplined and controlled way. In Paganism it was “do whatever you feel like it.” This is why the Torah warns against four seemingly disconnected things this week that really make the one essential point of what differentiates us, ethically, from others.

“Each person did whatever was right in his or her eyes.” Without religious standards we are in danger of being completely self-indulgent. “I can do whatever I feel like.” This undermines morality and a fair, caring society.

“Do not write or deface your bodies.” Tattooing or defacing one’s body was a mark of primitive pagan societies. It was then and is now a signal to show others that we are the same as everyone else and we share their values.

“These are the animals you my eat.” By controlling what and how we eat we are forced to stop and think, to consider, what our life and values are, every time we sit down to eat. That is how one builds up patterns of thoughtful, Godly behavior.

“If your friends entice you.” Peer group pressure and fashion exert a very powerful pressure on us. So many youngsters get into trouble nowadays because they are bullied or scared to go against the popular stream or be made fun or simply because they want be different and hold on to a different morality.

Written three thousand years these statements are still true today. They combine to define what being different amounts to. If we allow pagan influences to determine how we behave, we are no different to the Canaanites of old.