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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...

Chaye Sarah: November 3, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Ever since the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem, the world has asked the question; “What are we to do with the Jews?” For two thousand years, without a homeland to return to and without a country to protect us, we have wandered for 2000 years as stateless refugees, depending on the goodwill of people and governments to establish our homes. So many times, throughout history, we were attacked,...Read more...

Vayera: God Give Me Patience...And I Want It Now!  October 27, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

יז וַיִּשְׁמַע אֱלֹהִים אֶת-קוֹל הַנַּעַר
“And God heard the voice of the boy …” (Bereishit 21:17)
Consider:
I live in the United States and as far as I can tell we value tackling problems head on and solving them once and for all. Once we set our minds to something we expect to see results and to see them right away.
This demand for a quick turnaround shows up in all areas of our...Read more...

Lech Lecha: October 20, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Sydnie, when the Rabbis of the Talmud thought about Avram becoming Abraham, they realized that his name change was related to the fact that he had the remarkable ability to see things that other people just could not see. Everyone in the world, at that time, saw the different forces of nature and agreed that each force was a separate god...Read more...

Bereishit: A Timeless Classic; One More Time! October 6, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

וַיֹּאמֶר ה אֶל-קַיִן אֵי הֶבֶל אָחִיךָ וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא יָדַעְתִּי הֲשֹׁמֵר אָחִי אָנֹכִי. 

“The Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” And he said, “I do not know, Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Bereishit 4:9)
Consider:
   Starting Genesis again? We read it last fall. And we read it the year before that, and the year...Read more...

Haazinu: God As The Divine Parent of Us All September 22, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

י יִמְצָאֵהוּ בְּאֶרֶץ מִדְבָּר  וּבְתֹהוּ יְלֵל יְשִׁמֹן יְסֹבְבֶנְהוּ יְבוֹנְנֵהוּ יִצְּרֶנְהוּ כְּאִישׁוֹן עֵינו

“He found him in a desert region, In an empty howling waste. He engirded him, watch over him, Guarded him as the pupil of His eye.” (Devarim 32:10)
Consider:
The holiday of Sukkot draws...Read more...

Yom Kippur: September 20, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Gemar Tov, May this long fast day have a good ending for us all.

In the third chapter of Exodus, Moses arrives at the Burning Bush. He is curious; he is intrigued by the flames and amazed that the bush is not being consumed. And then he hears God’s voice to take off his shoes. The dialogue is quite amazing. God tells Moses that the suffering of the Israelites has been heard in heaven. God has set the divine mind to rescue them and...Read more...

Kol Nidre: September 18, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

As we begin our observance of Yom Kippur, I wish everyone a Tzom Kal, an easy fast for the next 26 hours.

“Do you love me?” We know that quote. From the play, “Fiddler on the Roof”. “Do I WHAT?” “Do you love me?” “Do I love him?” “Well?” Sung by Tevye and his wife Goldie, they discuss how much the world has changed in the 25 years since their arranged marriage. They have discovered that their new world is...Read more...

Vayelech: September 15, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

I recently came across a story of an old Lithuanian Jew who had survived the Holocaust, Siberia and many other tribulations of life. And yet, after all he had experienced, his faith was still intact. They asked this elderly man why, after all he had endured, that he never lost his faith? He told his friends that as a young man, his parents had sent him to one of the most prestigious Yeshivot in Europe. He was not such a...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah: September 10, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsbur

L’Shana Tova U’metuka – May we all be blessed with a happy and sweet New Year.

In the last interview that the great American Jewish philosopher, Abraham Joshua Heschel, gave before his death, he spoke to Carl Stern, a reporter from NBC News. At the end of the interview, the reporter asked the philosopher if he had a message he would like to convey to his younger viewers. Heschel said, “I would say to young people a number...Read more...

Nitzavim: The Trial of Human Beings September 8, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

 יט הַעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיּוֹם אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ הַחַיִּים וְהַמָּוֶת נָתַתִּי לְפָנֶיךָ הַבְּרָכָה וְהַקְּלָלָה וּבָחַרְתָּ בַּחַיִּים


I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day: I have put before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life” (Devarim...Read more...

Ki Tavo and Bar Mitzvah of Joshua Hauer: September 1, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Josh, this week is a pretty difficult Parsha to read. I am sure that you realize that there are good parts in life; vacations, ice cream and sleeping late are just a few examples. And you also know that there are the not-so-good parts of life; homework, Mondays and cleaning up your room. It is my job today to tell you that life can be so much better than what you know is good, and it can be so much worse than what you...Read more...

Ki Teze: August 26, 2018

Rabbi Konigsburb

Shabbat Shalom

At the very end of last week, we received the sad news that the singer, Aretha Franklin had died. She had earned the title, “The Queen of Soul” through her amazing range of musical hits that pointed to this honor. Her anthem, the song that was most prominent in her repertoire, the song that was well known to all her fans, was her version of a song written...Read more...

Shoftim: August 18, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

I saw a t-shirt a couple of weeks ago, it read; “Moses was the first person to download information from the cloud to his tablet.” I am sure that if Moses read that line he would have no idea what we are talking about for three reasons: One, he was talking to God, not a cloud. Two, God carved the tablets, and three, Moses would not understand English; he spoke only Hebrew and Egyptian.

I also know that the...Read more...

Re'eh: August 11, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom
 
The superhero Spiderman begins the saga of his superpowers with a proverb that is well known to all Spiderman fans, “With great power comes great responsibility”. It is the lesson that underlies all of the adventures of the superhero. He can’t just walk away when people are in trouble. He must help, that is the price of the superpowers with which he has been blessed.
The proverb does not come from...Read more...

Devarim: July 21, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

 

ו ה’ אֱלֹהֵ-ינוּ דִּבֶּר אֵלֵינוּ בְּחֹרֵב לֵאמֹר רַב-לָכֶם שֶׁבֶת בָּהָר הַזֶּה.

The Lord our God spoke to us a Horeb, saying: “You have stayed long enough at this mountain.” (Devarim 1:6)

Read more...

Mattot- Maasay: July 14, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

This is the second Shabbat between the 17th of Tammuz and the 9th of Av. Two fast days on the Jewish calendar that mark the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, once in the year 587 BCE and the again in 70 CE. These fast days are much older than Jerusalem; they have their roots in the journey of the People of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. The 17th of Tammuz was the day that Moses came down from Mt. Sinai...Read more...

Pinchus: July 7, 2018

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

 

There is a story told by Stephen Covey about a battleship making its way in dense fog out on the ocean. A lookout has been posted on the bow of the ship to make sure that the way is clear. Suddenly the lookout calls, “There is a light ahead!” This means that they are in danger of a collision. “Where...Read more...

Tue, April 23 2019 18 Nisan 5779