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Vaera / Bo 5783                 January 21, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

This week’s parsha, Bo, tells the exciting conclusion of the war between Moses and Pharoah which was also a war between God and the many gods of Egypt. Egypt takes one hit after another, hits that leave the land and the people weaker and weaker as well as making Pharoah seem weak and helpless in the face of the plagues. There are many promises made and broken as the war goes on. Pharoah’s...Read more...

Vayachi 5783           January 7, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Any time we see a parsha about living, we know that this parsha is really about dying. Vayachi means, “And he lived” referring to Jacob, so we know that this will be the Parsha where he will die. Even in ancient times, people did not want to talk about death. To a certain extent, this makes sense. The reality is that the death does not matter anywhere near as much as the life that a person...Read more...

Vayiggash 5783        December 31, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

This week’s parsha is one of the pivotal moments in the Book of Genesis. Joseph reveals himself to his brothers who react with terror about what Joseph might do to them for selling him into slavery 20 years earlier. Joseph brushes aside all their fears. Joseph wants to know about his family. He wants to know if his father is still alive. He wants to know what is going on in his brothers’...Read more...

Miketz 5783           December 24, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Urim Sameach, a Happy Festival of Lights!

Last Shabbat, the parsha included the cold-hearted brothers ignoring the pleas of Joseph who they had thrown into a pit in a fit of jealousy and anger. They sell their own brother into slavery, delude their father into thinking Joseph is dead and move on with their lives. This is the story of Genesis, brothers who hate each other and do all...Read more...

Vayeshev 5783                     December 17, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

Two weeks ago, we read about the birth of Jacob’s children. Leah has the first four children, all boys, and when she gives birth to Jacob’s fourth son, she is thankful to God for all of the blessings she has received, so she names her son Yehuda, after the word, “hoda” meaning grateful.

This week, we read about the life of...Read more...

Vayishlach 5783      December 10, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

I like to tell stories. They make ideas easy to remember and can have an impact on our life long after we first hear them. There is one story that I tell that is like a work of art. We can find in it many different meanings depending on what we bring to the table as we hear it.

It is a story of a poor man named Yankel. He lives in...Read more...

Vayetzei 5783       December 3, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

In this week’s Parsha, we want to feel sorry for Jacob. He has been driven from his home. He is alone in the world with only the clothing on his back. No money, no friends, abandoned by his family, he has to sleep alone in an open field with only a rock for a pillow. You can’t help but feel sad for the man.

You shouldn’t feel...Read more...

Toldot 5783                  November 26, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Toldot roughly means “Generations” as in a family history. I learned this week that its first use in the Torah is in the second chapter of Genesis where it is applied to the generations of the Heavens and the Earth. Sort of a family history of the planet. Most of the time, however, it begins a genealogy of descendants of someone significant in the Torah. We get...Read more...

HiyyeSara 5783       November 19, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.

     This week, our parsha comes to the end of the saga of Abraham. Having been tried by God through the near sacrifice of Isaac last week, the final details of Abraham’s life are recorded here. First there is the death of his beloved Sarah and the purchase of a burial cave in which he will inter her remains. Seeing Isaac lost without his mother, Abraham arranges, without any...Read more...

Vayera 5783       November 12, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     I spent the early part of this week in St. Louis at the Rabbinical Assembly Convention. It has been about three years since the last convention because of COVID so this convention was very special. It felt good to be back together but only about 250 out of 1700 rabbis attended. Some of the attendance was lost because there is still a lot of fear...Read more...

Lech-Lecha 5783           November 5, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

     Our Parsha this week, introduces us to Abraham, or as he is formerly known, Avram. His family has been on a journey out of the mountains of southern Turkey to the upper regions of what will become Assyria. Called by God, Abraham will continue his journey south to the land of Canaan to pasture his flocks in what will become someday the area around...Read more...

Noach 5783             October 25, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom 

     The stories at the beginning of the book of Genesis are all well known. These are some of the first stories we teach our children from the bible. Adam and Eve, the Tower of Babel, and who has not put up a picture of Noah, the ark, and the rainbow in their child’s room at one point or another? These stories we consider as children’s stories.

Read more...

Berayshit 5783                    October 22, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

     Shabbat Shalom – Welcome back to normal times! Next week we will have five full days to do five days’ worth of work.

     Just look at what God was able to accomplish in just seven days, and the last day was a day off!

     Every year I teach this story of the creation of the world. This is the beginning. All of life...Read more...

Shemini Atzeret 5783       October 17, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

     After a series of important holidays, the Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, where we look into every aspect of our lives and look for ways to improve the essence of who we are; after Sukkot the Harvest Festival, where we show our joy and gratitude for the bounties of nature and food security for the coming winter, we have Shemini Atzeret. Why do we have...Read more...

Sukkot Chol ha-Moed 5783                October 12, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach

     George M. Cohen, in the movie, Yankee Doodle, penned a song that became a staple for World War I. It was called, “Over There” and it let the world know that America had entered the war. It went like this:

Over there, over there
Send the word, send the word...Read more...

Sukkot II 5783                October 11, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

      The Torah teaches (Deut. 13:5) “Follow the Lord your God.” What does this mean? Is it possible for a mortal to follow God’s Presence? The verse means to teach us that we should follow the attributes of the Holy One, may God be praised. As God clothes the naked, you should clothe the naked. The bible teaches that the Holy One visited the sick:...Read more...

Sukkot I 5783     October 10, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

     The founder of the Hasidic movement, The Baal Shem Tov, tells a story that I first heard from Rabbi Lawrence Kushner. It is a story about a King who is a master of illusions. He wants to be very close to the people of his kingdom, but more than that, he wants the people of the kingdom to be close to him. So, he devised a plan. He built around himself a great castle-illusion....Read more...

Ha'Azinu 5783       October 8, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     Rabban Gamliel, the head of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem during Roman times, had a trusted servant named Tabi. The story goes that Rabban Gamliel sent his servant into the marketplace to bring home the best food he could find. Tabi went out and returned to his master and presented him with a tongue. This, Tabi declared, was the greatest delicacy....Read more...

Yom Kippur 5783            October 5, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

     Gemar Hatima Tova, may we all be sealed for life in the Book of Life.

     Once again, let me begin with a story, this one from Rabbi Ed Feinstein from his book, “Capture the Moon.” This is how he tells the story: “There was a king who ruled his kingdom with justice and wisdom. Everyone loved him except those who wanted to do evil and...Read more...

Kol Nidre 5783      October 4, 2022

      I wish everyone a Tzom Kal – an easy fast and a meaningful day of prayer.

     The great storyteller, Robert Fulghum, in his book, Uh-Oh: Some Observations from Both Sides of the Refrigerator Door tells a story of a job he had in 1959 just after he graduated college, at the Feather River Inn, a resort where he helped wrangle some horses and...Read more...

Vayeilech 5783               October 1, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     There was a fire and brimstone preacher who one day stood up before his congregation and shouted, “Everyone who is in this congregation is going to die!” There was a gasp from the congregation except for one man, in the front row, who got a big smile on his face. The preacher was stunned, he said, “Perhaps you don’t understand me, I said...Read more...

Rosh Hashana II 5783           September 27, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

You Came Back!!!  L’shana Tova – May we all have a Good New Year

Zalman Schachter-Shalomi – usually called Reb Zalman, died in 2014. I was aware of his work as a mystic and teacher. I knew he was trained as a Lubavitch Rabbi but left Chabad in the 1960’s to pursue his own spiritual/mystical/experimental path. There were Jews who followed him closely and were devoted to his teachings; I was not one of...Read more...

Rosh Hashana I 5783        September 26, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

We begin our new year with our traditional greeting – L’Shana Tova U’metuka, may we be blessed with a happy and sweet new year.

In his book, Capturing the Moon, Rabbi Ed Feinstein tells the story of a kingdom that everyone considered to be paradise. It was not richer or more beautiful than any other kingdom, but it was a place where everyone cared for everyone else. A neighbor would help a neighbor in...Read more...

Nitzavim 5782              September 24, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

 Shabbat Shalom,

     As we rapidly approach the end of the Torah, we are only two small parshiyot away, this short parsha, Nitzavim, has the privilege of picking up the speech of Moshe, right after Moshe articulated all the terrible punishments that would come if we did not obey God’s Torah. Last week, in Parshat Ki Tavo, we had that seemingly endless list of...Read more...

Ki Tavo 5783           September 17, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     It is an unpleasant fact that if you want to have friends or create a business relationship with someone, you can never talk about politics or religion. These issues are too fraught with so much personal and passionate thinking that it is best to keep the conversation on safer and more generic topics. Everyone loves to talk about the weather. Everyone loves to talk about...Read more...

Ki Tetze 5783           September 10, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

     We are quickly nearing the end of the book of Devarim, Deuteronomy, and this week our Parsha is indeed kind of a miscellaneous collections of laws that are only loosely connected. There are some 74 mitzvot in this one parsha alone making this the largest collection of mitzvot than any other parsha. Last week there were many rules regarding...Read more...

Shoftim 5783     September 3, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     Parshat Shoftim begins with a declaration that we should always pursue Justice. Almost every commentator focuses on the calls for judges to act justly; to have no favor for either the rich or the poor, to be beyond reproach in their personal lives, to never take bribes and to treat all who appear in their courts as guilty when they arrive and as...Read more...

Re'eh 5783    August 27, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.

     After the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God assigns a curse to both the first man and the first woman. For Adam, growing food will be hard work, no more easy pickings in the Garden but only through sweat and labor will the earth bring forth its bounty. For Eve, the curse is that childbirth will not be easy, it will be hard and...Read more...

Ekev 5783           August 20, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     In our Parsha this week we find Moses making a keen observation not only of the Israelites he is leading, but also an observation about all humanity. We read in Devarim, Chapter 8: 7-14:  “For your God (Adonai) is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams and springs and fountains issuing from plain and hill; a land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs, and...Read more...

Devarim/Hazon 5783      August 6, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom – It is good to be back; it was no fun at all being sick.

     My good friend and colleague, Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein of Jerusalem reminded me of a calendar quirk that I have not thought about for some time. He reminded me that the first day of Pesach and the fast of Tisha B’Av always fall on the same day of the week. This year Pesach began on Shabbat and today is the Ninth of Av, but the fast,...Read more...

Tue, February 7 2023 16 Shevat 5783