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GOOD MORNING! Less than three weeks to Pesach and counting ... Monday evening, April 5th is the first Seder! It's time to give some thought to making the Seder more enjoyable and effective in creating a warm family experience. Most Jews would like their children to feel positively about being Jewish. You cannot transfer your feelings, but you can create the atmosphere and the experience which will engender positive feelings. Anyone I have ever met who loved being Jewish, fondly reminisced about their Zaideh (grandfather) presiding over the Shabbat table or their Bubbie (grandmother) lighting Shabbat candles ... and their Seder! You are a link in that chain!
Q & A: HOW DO I MAKE MY SEDER ENJOYABLE, CREATIVE AND MEANINGFUL?
Remember that the Seder is for the kids, to transmit our history and understanding of life. You've got to make it interesting and intrigue them to ask questions. If a person asks a question, he'll be inclined to hear the answer! The only way to transmit your love and feeling for Judaism is through shared, positive experiences. You need to be excited about the Seder! Some ideas from Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf's Passover in a Nutshell:
- Invest time before the Seder. Trade in your Maxwell House Hagaddah for one with commentary. Then read it! See what intrigues you. Look at a commentary to get interesting insights to share with your family and guests. Check out the Passover in a Nutshell, Passover Survival Kit Haggadah, Artscroll Haggadahs and Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov. Available at local Jewish bookstores or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242 ... or via judaicaenterprises.com . NO EXCUSES!
- Get Passover story books for the kids now! Read to them the stories before Pesach. Have them or help them make a little play to present at the Seder. Buy them Artscroll Children's Hagaddah!
- Have quizzes and prizes. Ask questions and give 20 points for a right answer. 100 points and they get a prize! Start with the youngest and work up through the ages. If a child answers a question that's not his, he loses 20 points! Name the plagues, the 4 sons, the number of years in slavery - make your list of questions before the Seder. (You can even prep the kids before the Seder with the answers!)
- Plan out the Seder with little surprises and props. During the section on the plagues throw into the air plastic animals when you get to the Wild Beasts; use ping pong balls for the plague of Hail. Be creative. Give each child a brown paper bag filled with his props. Have fun! (You can also order the "Bag of Plagues" props available at your local Jewish bookstore - or call toll-free 877-758-3242 ... or via judaicaenterprises.com .)
- Have questions for discussion at the table! Passover marks the birth of the Jewish people. It's a time to reflect on the meaning, value and implications of being Jewish. ere are some questions to discuss:
- On a scale of 1-10, how important is being Jewish to you? Please explain.
- If your son, daughter, brother, sister, or best friend told you that they planned to raise their children without any Jewish education or identity, how would you react?
- If you thought the existence of Israel was in danger, would you risk your life to help save it?
- What do you like about being Jewish? What don't you like?
- Is it important to you or for your children to have mostly Jewish friends? Why?
Also, check out http://www.aish.com/a/passover.asp for the 1 Minute Passover Movie ... and for more on Pesach!
FEED THE POOR OF JERUSALEM!
Hundreds of families in Israel are unable to afford groceries for Yom Tov (the holiday).
This group gives them coupons redeemable only for food. They arrange with the supermarket to get an extra 10% on every dollar you give them. I know they are legitimate and I give them money!
Send your tax-deductible contribution to: Keren Y&Y, 805-A Roosevelt Ct., Far Rockaway, NY 11691 or via http://www.kerenyehoshuavyisroel.com
Fulfill the special Mitzvah of Maos Chitim, helping the poor for Pesach!
Torah Portion of the Week
The book of Vayikra (Leviticus) primarily deals with what are commonly called "sacrifices" or "offerings." According to Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch: a "sacrifice" implies giving up something that is of value to oneself for the benefit of another. An "offering" implies a gift which satisfies the receiver. The Almighty does not need our gifts. He has no needs or desires. The Hebrew word is korban, which is best translated as a means of bringing oneself into a closer relationship with the Almighty. The offering of korbanot was only for our benefit to come close to the Almighty.
Ramban, a noted Spanish rabbi, explains that through the vicarious experience of what happened to the animal korbanot, the transgressor realized the seriousness of his transgression. This aided him in the process of teshuva - correcting his erring ways.
This week's portion includes the details of various types of korbanot: burnt, flour offering (proof that one does not need to offer "blood" to gain atonement), first grain, peace, sin (private and communal), guilt korbanot (varied upon one's ability to pay), korban for inadvertently expropriating something sacred to God, and also to help atone for dishonesty.
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
The Torah states:
"And if any person sins through error by his doing any of the commandments of the Lord that may not to be done, and he becomes guilty; or his sin be known to him, then he shall bring for his offering ..." (Leviticus 4:27-28)
While at present we do not have the Temple in Jerusalem to aid in atoning for transgressions, what else do we have to help us atone?
Rabbi Yochanan was walking on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Rabbi Yehoshua was following him. When they saw the ruins of the Beit Hamikdash (Holy Temple), Rabbi Yehoshua said, "Woe to us. The place that atoned for sins is destroyed."
"My son," said Rabbi Yochanan, "We still have another means of atonement that is equal to the Beit Hamikdash : Chesed (acts of lovingkindness). As it is stated, 'Lovingkindness is what I want, and not sacrifices' (Hoshaia 6:6)." (Avos D'Reb Noson, ch. 4).
Atonement depends upon the individual regretting his actions, making amends, asking for forgiveness and verbally asking the Almighty to accept his plea for forgiveness. Perhaps doing acts of loving kindness aid in focusing an individual upon his larger relationship to the world and to the Almighty, thus placing him in a mode where he is able to examine mistakes and repair them.
CANDLE LIGHTING - March 26:
(or Go to http://www.aish.com/candlelighting)
Guatemala 5:54 Hong Kong 6:18 Honolulu 6:25
J'Burg 5:54 London 6:05 Los Angeles 5:51
Melbourne 6:01 Miami 6:16 Moscow 6:38
New York 5:56 Singapore 6:57
QUOTE OF THE WEEK:
Most people don't plan to fail;
they fail to plan.
-- John L. Buckley
With Thanks to the Almighty