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Shemot 5784    January 6,2024

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Voldemort- Tom Riddle – If you have read any of the Harry Potter books, you know that this is the name of the evil sorcerer who believes that the only thing that prevents him from taking over the world is Harry Potter, who has somehow never been a victim of his evil magic. He is so feared by the wizarding world in the book that most of the people refuse to even say his name. They just refer...Read more...

Miketz 5784      December 16, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

If we read the entire parsha last week we would see Joseph at the lowest moment in his life. The boy who received the many-colored coat of leadership from his father, was later thrown into the pit, sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of sexual assault by the lady of the house, thrown into prison, and forgotten by the one man who could have saved him. Alone and forgotten, he sits...Read more...

Vayeshev 5784     December 9, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

I had the privilege to attend the 2023 Convening of Conservative Judaism this past week. This was the first gathering of our movement since the pandemic three years ago. It was not just a convention of Rabbis, but it convened members of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ), The Cantors Assembly, United Synagogue Youth, and the Rabbinical Assembly. There were over eight hundred representatives of our movement in Baltimore, MD...Read more...

Vayislach 5784      December 2, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbis have been reading Parashat Vayishlach for thousands of years. Rabbis like to spend the time talking about the escape Jacob and his family made from his uncle Lavan. They like to talk about the wrestling with an angel in the middle of the night. They like to talk about the new name that Jacob received, no longer the trickster but Israel, the one who wrestles with God. They spend time...Read more...

Vayechi 5784       November 25, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

I first want to thank Maury and Carol and all those who filled in for me while I was sick last week. We are blessed indeed to have talented members who can fill in when I am sick. I am grateful for their help and for all your wishes for my speedy recovery.

Bex Stern Rosenblatt, in her D’var Torah for the Conservative Yeshiva,...Read more...

Toldot 5784                    November 18th, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

From the beginning of our Parsha, Jacob and Esau cannot get along. They fight even in Rivka’s womb. She has such a terrible pregnancy that she wishes she could die. Then she finds out that the twins that she carries will be enemies their entire lives, but the younger one will dominate the elder.

And that is how it will all play...Read more...

Lech Lecha 5784 October 28, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom (Peace God, please God!)

Let me say this, right off the bat; I am not a military strategist. I am not a political junkie. I don’t spend my days looking into every detail of what is happening in the Middle East, not because I don’t care, but because I have a congregation that I am responsible for. I am just a rabbi and I teach people the difference between good and evil, right and wrong....Read more...

Noach 5784    October 21, 2023 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom (the shalom can’t come fast enough)

My friend, Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein lives in Jerusalem and is living through the nightmare that life there has become. My prayers for the safety of all those in Israel includes him and his family. I have made it a point to be a sponsor of his commentary and I often find gems in his writings that I sometimes pass on to all of you. Today is such a day. In...Read more...

Berayshit 5784     October 14, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom – (Oh how I wish there would be Shalom!)

Since this is Parshat Berayshit, let us take this from the Beginning. Cain kills his brother Abel. God gives Cain a chance to own up to what he has done, “Where is your brother Abel?” Cain does not reply “I killed him”, “I hated him”, “I didn’t like that he was better than me”. Cain says, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” “How...Read more...

Shemini Atzeret 5784          October 7th, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach

Peggy Newton is the chair of the Woodbridge Farm committee that oversees the historic farmstead just down the road, the farm where we go to observe Tashlich on Rosh Hashana. It has a beautiful stream that runs through it and every year, when I ask permission to use the stream she always lets me know how high the water is running. If we have had a long...Read more...

Sukkot II 5784    October 1, 2023 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

Today we finally get to take in our hands our Lulav and Etrog so we can fully celebrate this unique festival of Sukkot. The Torah commands us to take palm branches and willow branches as well as two other more obscure plants, “leafy trees” and the fruit of the “hadar” tree. It was the later Sages, trying to make sense of this command, who determined that myrtle...Read more...

Sukkot 5784    September 30, 2023 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach

Zeh HaYom Asah H’ Nagila V’Nismecha Bo – This is the Day that God has made; We shall celebrate and Rejoice in it.

This is a verse from the Book of Psalms. It comes toward the end of Hallel. It was also the verse that Michelle and I used on the invitation to our wedding some 46 years ago. We did not have an elaborate invitation. It was...Read more...

Yom Kippur 5784      September 25, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Gemar Tov-May we all have a good finish for this day.

I would like to start today with a little bit of Meditation. Get comfortable in your chair; let your body relax (I am not going to scold you for anything today) and breathe normally. Try really hard not to think about anything you forgot to do or anything you are planning to do. Just breathe in and out and feel this moment as it passes by. (pause)

Read more...

Kol Nidre 5784     September 24, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Our Greeting Tonight is Tzom Kal; May you have an easy fast.

How long did you prepare to be here this evening? You had to prepare the pre-fast dinner of course, although it should have been a simple healthy meal, not too spicy or elaborate. After all, we will not be eating again for 25 hours so dinner had to be nutritious and filling. But besides that, how long ago did you plan on what you wanted to wear for...Read more...

Haazinu 5784     September 23, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Art Green, a long-time beloved teacher of mine gave a Devar Torah for Rosh Hashana and I want to use some excerpts from his teaching this morning. He teaches:

I heard from the Maggid a parable he offered before the shofar sounding:

A king sent his beloved children to a far-off country. They spent long years there, exiled

from their father’s table. But they were constantly concerned with...Read more...

Rosh Hashana II 5784     September 17, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

L’shana Tova, may we be blessed with a Sweet New Year.

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav, the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov and the leader of the Hasidim of Bratzlav who was born at just about the same time as the Revolutionary War between Great Britian and what would become the United States, taught to his students what would become a very famous proverb. He said, “The entire world is like a narrow bridge. The...Read more...

Rosh Hashana I 5784        September 16, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and L’shana Tova U’metuka – Shabbat Shalom and May we all be blessed with a Good and Sweet New Year
As a historian, I have always been fascinated by Time. Historians get to watch the wheels of time turn, as we humans repeat age after age the lessons of life we refuse to learn. Even when we learn our lessons, it takes only a generation or two to forget them and start the cycle all over again. We like to think of...Read more...

Nitzavim – Vayelech 5783    September 9th, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

The story goes that a man, in a business suit, is sitting on a train and across from him is a tall man with a long beard, a black hat and long frock coat. They travel for a while in silence but the man in the suit finally erupts in anger. “I don’t understand why you Jews have to dress differently than everyone else. Why can’t you be a Jew like me? A modern man in modern dress; why do you...Read more...

Ki Tavo 5783     September 2, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.

The Torah spends a lot of time talking about Justice. Just a couple of weeks ago we were commanded to always pursue justice. Justice does not happen by itself; we need to do the work to ensure that justice is fair for everyone. In the Book of Leviticus there are very specific rules for judges; they have to be fair to the rich and poor alike. Justice does not mean feeling sorry for one side or...Read more...

Ki Teze 5783       August 26, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

 Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the Executive Director of an organization called, Teruah, A Rabbinic Response for Human Rights. While I do support this organization, I do have my differences with them. It is an organization of rabbis that are on the far left of the political spectrum and while I, myself, lean left, I believe that sometimes those on the left are so ideologically motivated that they...Read more...

Shoftim 5783        August 19, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

This week’s Parsha is about judges. I have given sermons over the past weeks about the issues with judges in the United States and the issues with judges that are being played out in Israel. There really isn’t any reason for me to do the obvious thing and summarize it all with the words of Parshat Shoftim.

But Rabbi Eli Kaunfer, from Yeshivat Hadar in...Read more...

Re’eh 5783        August 12, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

For the past couple of weeks, I have tried to put some of the political news into a Judaic framework to help us understand how our religion deals with the issues of our day. But at this time of year, as the days count down to the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, the real work that we need to concentrate on is not the work of the talking heads on television and cable news, but it is the work...Read more...

Ekev 5783          August 5, 2023 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Seventy-one years after the constitution of the United States was ratified, our country descended into a terrible Civil War, pitting brother against brother, citizen against citizen, and state against state. There are some who claim that the election of President Lincoln and the rise of the Republican party, which promoted the end of slavery in this country, was the cause of the attack by...Read more...

V’etchanan 5783        July 29, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

Michelle often listens to the news with me and together we hear the litany of events that are taking place in our world. If you are reading or listening to the news you know that there is much of great concern that is happening all over this planet. There is the well-known fact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There is the ongoing soap opera of the life and...Read more...

Hukkat-Balak 5783           July 1, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

There are many topics to address in parshat Hukkat. The Israelites are on the road and ready to enter the Promised Land. They have to overcome many roadblocks. Miriam and Aaron, the siblings of Moses, both die in this Parsha. The people find themselves in need of water and Moses wills disobey God and strike a rock when he was told to just speak to it. Moses is...Read more...

Shelach Lecha 5783            June 17, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

In the 2009 Movie, Avatar, the Na’vi people greet each other with the formal greeting, “I see you.” In a world where everything is connected to everything else, individualism is impossible. So, the highest compliment one can make to another is “I see you,” You, and not a collective; I see you as unique and as an individual. It is the sign that one has...Read more...

Beha'alotcha 5783             June 10, 2023 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.

The Torah spends a great deal of time talking about the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that the Israelites constructed in the desert after their encounter with God at Mt. Sinai. Way back at the end of Shemot/Exodus, they built the Mishkan and Moses assembled the parts of the tent in the middle of the camp. For the entire book of Leviticus, we find the...Read more...

Shavuot II 5783        May 27, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach

Since Shavuot is the festival where we celebrate the giving of the Torah, it was exceptionally appropriate to read about the giving of the Torah yesterday. But what are we to do for an appropriate reading today? We could have read the second account of the Ten Commandments in the Book of Devarim/Deuteronomy but that is only a description 40 years...Read more...

Shavuot I 5783      May 26, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach.

Today marks the birthday of the Torah. That is why we read the Ten Commandments this morning. This is why we read about the revelation at Mt. Sinai. This is the anniversary of that event. It is the day we celebrate the Torah being transferred from the heavenly realms to guide our paths here on earth. This is the day that we discovered what God wanted from humanity. It...Read more...

Bamidbar 5783                   May 20, 2023 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.

One of the things that Rabbis are always looking for in the text of the Torah is an unusual turn of a phrase or a word that seems out of place. These are clues that there is something going on in the text of the Torah; it is a phrase that sort of jumps off the page and calls out “Darshuni – Explain me!”

This week, our parsha...Read more...

Mon, February 26 2024 17 Adar I 5784