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Ekev.  August 24, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

When I was very young, my family lived just over a half mile from our synagogue. We walked to shul every Shabbat and Holiday. We lived so close that when visiting speakers needed to be housed for Shabbat near the shul, we always offered our home. And yet,...Read more...

V'etchanan.  August 17, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbis always face a hard decision every Shabbat. Sometimes the news calls us to speak out about injustice in the world. Judaism is about justice and we need to remind our congregations about our commitment to justice. Sometimes terrible disasters, man-made...Read more...

Devarim.  August 10, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom
As we returned from our trip to Great Britain, we had a selection of movies to help us pass the time on the long flight across the Atlantic. In the classics section was the famous movie, “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. It was a good opportunity to connect with a favorite movie, so Michelle and I settled in to “play it again.”
There is a long set at the beginning of the movie where the...Read more...

Hukkat.  July 13, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

As the Israelites work their way across the desert, moving away from the Promised Land, it becomes apparent that the people will have to rethink what this journey is all about. From the moment they left Egypt, they had looked forward to their arrival at the country that God had promised their ancestors. Now,...Read more...

Korach. July 6, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

In the Torah, it is called “The Great Rebellion” - Korach and his followers rebel against the leadership of Moshe Rabbenu, Moses our Teacher. There are so many reasons for this rebellion that modern commentators believe that it is a compilation of...Read more...

Shelach Lecha: When God is not God. June 29, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

 

יא וַיֹּאמֶר ה’ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה עַד-אָנָה יְנַאֲצֻנִי הָעָם הַזֶּה וְעַד-אָנָה לֹא-יַאֲמִינוּ בִי בְּכֹל הָאֹתוֹת אֲשֶׁר עָשִׂיתִי בְּקִרְבּוֹ .יב אַכֶּנּוּ בַדֶּבֶר וְאוֹרִשֶׁנּוּ וְאֶעֱשֶׂה אֹתְךָ...Read more...

Bahaalotecha. June 22, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Sometimes the Torah surprises us with something that seems so easy and yet it contains a very deep lesson. At the beginning of our Parsha, Aaron is told to go ahead and light the lamp that will burn inside the Mishkan, the central tent of the portable...Read more...

Naso: The Spirit Within. June 15, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

 

יג וְקָרְבָּנוֹ קַעֲרַת-כֶּסֶף אַחַת שְׁלֹשִׁים וּמֵאָה מִשְׁקָלָהּ מִזְרָק אֶחָד כֶּסֶף שִׁבְעִים שֶׁקֶל בְּשֶׁקֶל הַקֹּדֶשׁ שְׁנֵיהֶם מְלֵאִים סֹלֶת בְּלוּלָה...Read more...

Bamidbar: Shavuot.  June 8, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

There is a very interesting explanation about parshat Bamidbar, the parsha read a couple of days ago. There is a small repetition in the text, when the People of Israel are instructed on how they should march in the desert on their way to the Promised Land....Read more...

Bechukotai.  June 1, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

The Torah is filled with commandments and laws that are designed to help us live better lives. Lives that are more spiritual, lives that help us live with other people in peace and harmony. The laws of fairness and justice are well known to help us be creative in our lives and at the same time prevents us from becoming selfish and...Read more...

Behar: Abortion in Jewish Law.  May 25, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

יָשִׁית עָלָיו בַּעַל הָאִשָּׁה וְנָתַן בִּפְלִלִים. כג וְאִם-אָסוֹן יִהְיֶה וְנָתַתָּה נֶפֶשׁ תַּחַת נָפֶשׁ. כד עַיִן תַּחַת עַיִן שֵׁן תַּחַת שֵׁן יָד תַּחַת יָד רֶגֶל תַּחַת...Read more...

Kodashim. May 11, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

One of the most difficult concepts in Judaism is Holiness. The Hebrew word for “holy” is “Kodesh”. Like all Hebrew words, it has a three-letter root that carries the meaning of “separate”; something that is holy is separate from other mundane or ordinary things. It gives us a hint of what Holiness is all about; it is not mundane or ordinary, but it still...Read more...

Acray Mot. May 4, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Our Parsha takes place “Achray Mot” after the death of the two sons of Aaron. Aaron was a man of peace and well loved by all the Israelites, but he still had to face the tragedy of the death of two of his sons. The Torah implies that the two boys, Nadav...Read more...

Pesach-Yizkor Service. April 27, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach

This is not an ordinary Yizkor sermon for me. Almost six months ago my mother, Shirley Konigsburg died suddenly. It was right after Sukkot, so this is my first Yizkor service that I have to include her in my prayers. I have said Kaddish now for almost six months, every morning in West Hartford and each evening here in our minyan. Minyan is not...Read more...

Pesach.  April 26, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

On this seventh day of Pesach, we recall the greatest miracle in all of history, the parting of the Sea of Reeds and the safe crossing of the Israelites. It is a story that is well known because it is the climax of the entire story of the Exodus. Getting us...Read more...

Pesach-Telling Stories.  April 21, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach

Pesach is the Storytellers holiday. Everything about Pesach revolves around telling a story. The name of the book we use at our seder, The Haggadah, means “The Story” and it contains the telling of the story of how our ancestors left...Read more...

First Day of Pesach. April 20, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

יד וְהָיָה הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה לָכֶם לְזִכָּרוֹן וְחַגֹּתֶם אֹתוֹ חַג לַה’  לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם חֻקַּת עוֹלָם תְּחָגֻּהוּ.
This day shall be to you one of remembrance: you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord throughout the ages. You shall celebrate it as an institution for all time. [Exodus 12:14]
Consider:
Why is this night...Read more...

Shemini: Making Sense of Antisemitism. March 30, 2019

Rabbi Konigsburg

ג וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל-אַהֲרֹן הוּא אֲשֶׁר-דִּבֶּרָ ה’ לֵאמֹר בִּקְרֹבַי אֶקָּדֵשׁ…
Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when he said: Through those near to me I show Myself holy….
Consider:
It’s hard to read the news these days without encountering evidence of a significant rise in antisemitism. In Alsace, France, gravestones...Read more...

Ki Tissa: How Can A Human "Cling" to God? February 23, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

 י וְעַתָּה הַנִּיחָה לִּי וְיִחַר-אַפִּי בָהֶם וַאֲכַלֵּם וְאֶעֱשֶׂה אוֹתְךָ לְגוֹי גָּדוֹל.
"Now, let Me be, that My anger may blaze forth against them and that I may destroy them, and make of you a great nation."[Ex. 32:10]
Consider: [Warning: This One is Very Hard!]
Rabbi Abahu said: If Scripture hadn't written it, we couldn't possibly...Read more...

Teruma: Are Jews the "Ever Choosing" People? February 9, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

ב דַּבֵּר אֶל-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִקְחוּ-לִי תְּרוּמָה  מֵאֵת כָּל-אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יִדְּבֶנּוּ לִבּוֹ תִּקְחוּ אֶת-תְּרוּמָתִי.
Tell the Israelite people to bring Me gifts; you shall accept gifts for Me from every person whose heart so moves him. [Exodus 25:2]
Consider:
The Talmud (BT Shabbat 88a) takes the Torah’s...Read more...

Yitro: Who is God and What Does God Want From Me? January 26, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

ב אָנֹכִי ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֲשֶׁר הוֹצֵאתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים  לֹא-יִהְיֶה לְךָ אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים עַל-פָּנָי.
I the Lord am your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage: You shall have no other gods besides Me.  [Exodus...Read more...

Bo: Who Speaks For Me? January 12, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

ג דַּבְּרוּ אֶל-כָּל-עֲדַת יִשְׂרָאֵל …
Speak to the whole community of Israel… [Exodus 12:3]
Consider:
“American Jews and Israeli Jews Are Headed for a Messy Breakup,” a column by Jonathan Weisman announced in the New York Times earlier this week. He’s probably right. But only...Read more...

Vaera: January 5, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

My weekly bible class knows that one of the ways we need to read Torah is to look for the questions in the text. Of course, when we find a question in the Torah, it is there to help move the story along. But there is another audience for every question. We are to take every question in the Torah and ask that question of ourselves.

So, when God calls to Adam and Eve saying, “Where are you?” that is a question...Read more...

Vayechi: December 22, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

We have come a long way in the book of Genesis. At the very beginning, in the first chapters, God asks the question to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” and Cain answers “Am I my brother’s keeper?’ God then replies, “Wrong Answer!” Now you will be punished for killing your brother.

The entire book of Genesis is about God looking for a better answer to the question, “Where is your brother?”...Read more...

Vayigash: December 15, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

There is an apartment for sale in Florida, it is reasonably priced, only a short block from the beach, with a heated pool. It is a small building with nice neighbors. It belonged to my parents before they died, and this week, I went back for the first time since we sat Shiva for my mom there. It will probably be the last time I will see it as she left it.

Actually, it is not exactly as she left it. Much of our...Read more...

Mikketz: Call Waiting.  December 8, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

 כא וַיֹּאמְרוּ אִישׁ אֶל-אָחִיו אֲבָל אֲשֵׁמִים אֲנַחְנוּ עַל-אָחִינוּ אֲשֶׁר רָאִינוּ צָרַת נַפְשׁוֹ בְּהִתְחַנְנוֹ אֵלֵינוּ וְלֹא שָׁמָעְנוּ עַל-כֵּן בָּאָה אֵלֵינוּ הַצָּרָה הַזֹּאת.
They said to one another, “Alas, we are being punished on account of our brother,...Read more...

Vayeshev: December 1, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

There is a meme that has been going around for a long time that attempts to simplify Jewish History. Rather than memorize the names of the holidays, remember the ritual items needed for the holiday and look up the foods we need to eat, all one needs to remember is “They attacked us, we won, lets eat!” Maybe with the exception of Yom Kippur, we can use this on almost any Jewish holiday, including Hanukah, which...Read more...

Vayishlach: Detente.  November 24, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

י וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב אַל-נָא אִם-נָא מָצָאתִי חֵן בְּעֵינֶיךָ וְלָקַחְתָּ מִנְחָתִי מִיָּדִי  כִּי עַל-כֵּן רָאִיתִי פָנֶיךָ כִּרְאֹת פְּנֵי אֱלֹ’ וַתִּרְצֵנִי.
But Jacob said, “No I pray you; if you would do me this favor, accept from me this gift; for to see your face is like seeing the face...Read more...

Vayetze: November 17, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

At the very beginning of our Parsha, Jacob, after spending the night alone in the desert, after a dream about angels accompanying him on his journey, makes a strange vow before God. He says, “If God remains with me, If God protects me on this journey that I am making, and gives me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safe to my father’s house – the Lord shall be my God and this stone which I have set...Read more...

Toldot: This Most of All, To Thine Own Self Be True. November 10, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

וַיֶּאֱהַב יִצְחָק אֶת-עֵשָׂו כִּי-צַיִד בְּפִיו וְרִבְקָה אֹהֶבֶת אֶת-יַעֲקֹב

Isaac favored Esau because he had a taste for game; but Rebekah favored Jacob  
(The Hebrew כִּי-צַיִד בְּפִיו (ki tzayid b’fiv) can be translated literally as “for that which is trapped was in his...Read more...

Sat, October 19 2019 20 Tishrei 5780