GOOD MORNING! How important is it to you that your children follow in your footsteps as Jews and that they marry Jews? If it is important, then you have to realize that you are their role model. Your love of Judaism and things Jewish is what will communicate to your children. You can't legislate feelings -- they are felt and internalized. When Jews came to America and found the difficulties facing them in living Jewishly, the lament was often heard, "Oy, it's tough to be a Jew!" If it's tough to be a Jew, then why would your child want to be Jewish? You have to feel the joy, the meaning, the beauty in being a Jew -- it's GREAT to be a Jew! Then you have hope with your kids.
I once visited a man in the hospital who hadn't spoken with a rabbi for 50 years. He told me, "Rabbi, I'm the proudest Jew you'll ever meet!" I asked him what there is about our heritage that gave him this feeling. He responded, "Rabbi, let anyone say anything about Jews or Israel and I'll beat them up! It doesn't matter that I'm almost 70." I replied, "You certainly care a lot about Jews and the Jewish people. What is there that gave you the strength of your feeling?" He answered, "Weren't you listening, Rabbi? Let anyone say anything against another Jew or Israel and I'll beat him up!" He had the feeling. He just had no idea why he felt so strongly about being Jewish.
Chances are that the man experienced anti-Semitism. Perhaps someone said or did something to him -- or the horrors of the Holocaust indelibly engraved themselves upon his soul. Though persecution forces the issue of Jewish identity, it does not provide a reason for being Jewish. It certainly doesn't transmit to the next generation to want to be part of people that seemingly so many hate and historically have wanted to destroy!
Aish NY took a survey of why people came to our Center. Five reasons: 1) Social -- to meet that nice Jewish boy or girl to marry 2) Jewish Pride -- wanting to know our history and culture 3) Spirituality -- looking for a connection with the Almighty 4) Philosophy -- what is life all about? 5) Competence -- knowing what to do and why in Jewish practice. (and I imagine that many just came for the food...)
You can't love what you don't know. What do you love about being Jewish? If a list of things doesn't come to mind immediately then likely you would benefit from learning and experiencing more. Ask your rabbi ... and if you don't have one, look for an Aish HaTorah or a Chabad House near you and take classes to find out.
Experience a Shabbos meal with a family that observes the Shabbos. So many people who have done this are overwhelmed by the peace, serenity, joy and love that permeates the evening. Once you have experienced it, you can bring it into your own home. Lori Palatnik has written a wonderfully accessible guide, Friday Night and Beyond -- The Shabbat Experience Step by Step.
If you want to understand the basics of Jewish philosophy and practice, I highly recommend Rabbi Chaim Donin's book To Be a Jew. (He also wrote To Raise a Jewish Child and To Pray as a Jew.) If you want to appreciate what the Jewish people have done to change the world, read Ken Spiro's World Perfect -- the Jewish Impact on Civilization. And of course, read the Torah (the Artscroll Stone Edition has a great commentary).
Want to bring Shabbat into your own home? 1) Eighteen minutes before sunset the mother (or the head of the household), lights two candles with a blessing. The candles provide the soft light of Shabbat Peace. 2) Start with a Friday night meal with a rule: no answering the telephone; no radio or television. 3) The father (or head of the household) makes Kiddush -- sanctifying the day with words of remembrance over a cup of wine. It is an act of testimony and regal declaration that we are Jews recognizing our Creator who took us out of Egypt. 4) Make a blessing "HaMotzie" over two challahs (specially braided breads signifying the double portion of manneh received on Friday since no manneh fell on Shabbat in the 40 years of travel in the desert after leaving Egypt). 5) Relax over a multi-course meal -- soup, gefilte fish, chicken and kugel. Discuss what you did that week. Ask those around the table about their week. Prepare questions for discussion. 6) Read aloud -- or take turns reading -- part of the weekly Torah portion. Ask a question on it. Read the Shabbat Shalom Fax! Have a quiz for the kids (be sure to have taught your kids the stories beforehand or directed them what to read). Call your local rabbi for help!
Tetzaveh, Exodus 27:20 - 30:10
The Torah continues this week with the command to make for use in the Mishkan, the Portable Sanctuary -- oil for the Menorah and clothes for the Cohanim, the Priests. It then gives instruction for the consecration of the Cohanim and the Outer Altar. The portion concludes with instructions for constructing the Incense Altar.
* * *
from Twerski on Chumash by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D.
The Torah states:
"You shall command the Children of Israel that they should take for you pure, olive oil pressed for illumination" (Exodus 27:20).
The Talmud interprets the phrase "they should take for you" to mean that the light is for you. I do not need it (Talmud Bavli, Menachos 86b). Clearly, the Creator of all light, Whose pillar of fire illuminated the way for the Israelites during their forty-year sojourn in the desert, hardly needs the little flames of the Menorah to provide light for Him. "The mitzvos were given for no other reason than to refine Israel" (Vayikra Rabbah 13:3).
The light of the Menorah was to burn continually (Exodus 27:20). This indicates that we must constantly have the awareness that we are the beneficiaries of the mitzvos.
There is one category of mitzvos, chukim (ordinances), which are Divine decrees that are beyond the capability of the human mind to understand. The light of the Menorah should remind us that these, like all other mitzvos, are for our benefit.
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)
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Rabbi Kalman Packouz
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