Human Rights Shabbat (Dec 20)
Hanu-Cocoa (Dec 22)
See below for more info. Much more coming in January!
Here is our weekly "5-Point Parasha", a short list of what we are enjoying or pondering, as it relates to life and Torah.
Rabbi Sherril shares this beautiful teaching about the dreidl from Rabbi Marcia Prager:
On my shelf, I have a wild assortment of dreidls. After all, it is rare that any mitzvah that can be artistic remains unembellished. I have jars of plastic dreidls of all colors, dreidls of silver filigree, dreidls carved of olivewood, ones made of clay, and even one tiny dreidl – easily a hundred years old – made of oferet yetzukah, pressed lead.
Stories of the origin of the dreidl suggest that the toy and its “gambling” game were used by Chanukah celebrants living under the Roman occupation to circumvent Roman edicts forbidding group gatherings, and thereby plan acts of resistance. In later times, opting to downplay the military context of the story, the rabbis emphasized the theme of light, the holiness of the miracle of the oil, and the rededication of the Temple as a spiritual victory over darkness.
The great Rebbes of Eastern Europe elaborated on these themes, using the lessons to offer guidance on the inner work we must undertake when we wish to grow spiritually. Reb Nachman of Bratzlav, the great-grandson of the Holy Baal Shem Tov, offers this unusual teaching on the dreidl: The dreidl, he says, is a symbol of Creation itself. Why? Because all existence is like a rotating wheel. Existence is dynamic, and full of movement, always revolving and oscillating, never static! Yet also, just like a dreidl which spins on a single point, all of Creation too, emanates from point, one root, one Source.
The Beis HaMikdash, the Holy Temple when it stood, was also a symbol of this essential nature of Creation. How can we say that the Temple was like a revolving wheel? Because through our sacred service in the Temple, we initiated a movement of the Divine into the world and elevated the world closer to the Divine. God into world and world into God, round and round. The Temple, (like the human heart) Reb Nachman says, is like a dreidl – a rotating “wheel” where God and world spin in a sacred dance. The Temple is an energy cycle, as is the process of redemption. Even the revelation on Mt. Sinai is such a cycle, a holy choreography in which Moshe and God ascend and descend.
Reb Nachman invites us, as we spin the toy dreidl, to reflect on our own lives. Where are we in our own cycles of ascent and descent? How connected are all our ups and downs? How is God moving in our lives, or have we lost the “point”? Reb Nachman reminds is that the journey of our own souls is like a dreidl. Of course! Whenever a soul descends into the world, a holy possibility is elevated. This holy possibility is the fulfillment of your own soul’s unique destiny, the realization of your unique potential to learn, love, and choose the good.
Wishing you all a happy spin of the dreidl, and a happy Chanukah.
Cantor Heather shares some original Kandelikas for Chanuka:
The Ladino Hanukkah favorite "Ocho Kandelikas" has become such a classic, that many people don't realize that it is by a living composer. Here is a clip of Bosnian born Flory Jagoda performing her famous song:
Rabbi Schachar shares Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank's parasha teaching on inheriting fear:
"Va-yeshev Yakov B'eretz M'guray Aviv. And Jacob lived in the land where his father had dwelt" (Gen. 37:1). The Hebrew word for dwelt (meguray) can be read from another root to mean "fear". This leads Rebbe Levi Yitzkhak of Berditchev, following Nahmanides and others, to understand this verse to say, "And Jacob lived in the fears of his father."
R' Wolfe-Blank gives over a teaching from Rebbe Yakov Yitzhak of Parshishkheh: "Jacob purposefully used fear in a different way than had his father--in order to fix the atmosphere of shrinking and contracting left over from the era of Yitzkhak's generation."
Basing himself on God at the Center by David Blumenthal, Rabbi Wolfe-Blank writes: "In large measure, we do 'live in the fears of our parents'" We draw into our being the unexpressed fears of our parents about their sexuality, their parenting, about their loyalty to their own parents, and about the deeper meaninglessness of their lives. Parents who were insecure--and all parents are insecure, because they are human--communicate these insecurities; we their children, take these into our selves as a living osmosis. And we will surely pass on our own fears and anxieties to our children. We do, indeed, dwell in the land of the fears of our parents."
Rabbi Schachar shares @hey.alma's take on חנוכה:
Rabbi Schachar shares a quote from Ram Dass, aka Dr. Richard Alpert:
"I think it's darkness before the dawn, because the next evolution is going to be a consciousness evolution instead of a communication revolution."
Announcements & Upcoming @MOS --
Bonus - Cantor Heather shares:
Looking for ways to amp up your Jewish spirituality in the new year? In addition to great classes from our MOS clergy coming your way check out some of these great online and retreat learning opportunities:
Hadar’s Rising Song Intensive, Dec. 22-25:
Awakening the Divine: A Pardes and Or HaLev Jewish Spirituality Retreat Dec. 31, 2019-Jan. 5, 2020:
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