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Pesach 8 5782     April 23, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach

     Today is a good day to have a conversation about Moses.

     From the very beginning of the book of Exodus to the very end of Deuteronomy, there is no single person who is as critical for the story of our people as Moses. The Torah records his birth and how he came to the palace of...Read more...

Pesach 7    April 22, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach.

     The man sitting next to me, upon discovering that I was a rabbi, wanted to know if I were like the rabbis in Crown Heights who believed that God would protect them from COVID. I replied, “I do believe that God protects us from COVID, that is why God gave us the knowledge and the intelligence to create the vaccines.”

Read more...

Pesach 2 5782  April 17, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

     What do you think is the most important part of a Pesach Seder? Is it the Four Questions? Is it the Seder songs? Is it the festival meal? Is it the reading of the story of the Exodus? What do you think? What do you think your grandparents, or your ancestors might consider to be the central part of the Seder?

 ...Read more...

Pesach 1 5782    April 16, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach

     Today is Jewish Independence Day. Not Israel’s Independence Day, which will be on the fifth day of Iyar, next month. This is the day that the family of Jacob, the People of Israel, the people who were slaves in Egypt, woke up in the morning, after a tense night of watching, to discover that Pharoah had not only freed them from...Read more...

Metzora 5782     April 9, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     Jewish Law is called halacha, a Hebrew word meaning “the path” and it is designed to be the path where we can walk to practice our Judaism. Law is an important part of human society. Law is the way we can understand what our responsibilities are to each other and what we can expect from others to help us live our lives. Jewish Law is no...Read more...

Tazria 5782        April 2, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     Every person in this room, who has ever been a parent knows the plaintive cry of the young child asking, “But why?!” From our earliest childhood, we all have a need to understand the world and to see how it all works, even behind the scenes. It is this question, “Why?” that has moved humanity forward in history. Most animals just take the...Read more...

Shemini 5782   March 26, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

      This week, wedged in between stories of the war in Ukraine, were the hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be elevated to the United States Supreme Court. I find hearings like this to be a rather strange dance. Three of the Senators are using the hearing as a soapbox for their own presidential ambitions. Several others have dredged up all the complaints they had...Read more...

Tzav 5782    March 19, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

      I am having my doubts about self-driving cars. My current car is already telling me what I should do when I am driving. It is one thing to let me know that a door is open. But my car tells me when something is too close to my car. It tells me when it thinks I am too close to the car in front of me. It tells me when there is a car in my blind...Read more...

Vayikra 5782      March 12, 2022

Shabbat Shalom

     In the play and the movie, “Fiddler on the Roof” Tevye often talks to God, and when he does he lifts up his eyes and addresses the sky. God is in heaven and Tevye turns toward heaven when God becomes part of the conversation. It is a very common move. We look at each other when we are in conversation and so we look up when we include God in...Read more...

Pekudey 5782     March 5, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Refugee Shabbat

Shabbat Shalom

     What kind of a world do we live in where a whole people are forced out of their homes and out of the country of their birth with the choice of leaving or being re-educated to fit in with everyone else? Give up your cultural heritage or get out of our country; what kind a choice is that. The point here is that I am not...Read more...

Vayakel 5782         February 26, 2022

 

 Dear Israel: End the Occupation or Force A Generation of Jews to Abandon Zionism

Sophie Balmagiya                 Feb. 12, 2022, 1:09 am – from The Times of Israel Blogs

     Growing up as a Jewish girl in New York who has...Read more...

Ki Tissa 5782     February 19, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

     The singing group, “The Loving Spoonful” released a song in 1965 called, “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind”. It would be a great theme song for this week’s Parsha. In both the Torah reading and the Haftara reading, the people of Israel are having trouble making up their mind.

     In Exodus, for example, the people had just heard...Read more...

Terumah Torah Study 5782     February 5, 2022

     Dr. Shaiya Rothberg, Conservative Yeshiva Faculty Parashat Terumah
     First published: February 17, 2018 | 2 Adar 5778 (USCJ Torah Sparks Blog Archive)

     Moreover, thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them. The length of one curtain shall be eight and twenty...Read more...

Torah Study: Mishpatim 5782   January 29, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Captives of Hope  --- Essay from the Jewish Forward

     This essay is adapted from the sermon that Rabbi Angela Buchdahl delivered last Friday night at Central Synagogue in Manhattan. Buchdahl, Central’s senior rabbi, fielded two cellphone calls last Saturday from Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, where a British gunman had taken a...Read more...

Parshat Yitro 5782      January 22, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     I hope each person has read this week’s Parsha closely. It is an experience of God that is being reported in Chapters 19 and 20. If we are to understand God for ourselves, we need to understand what the Torah is teaching us about God in these chapters. The great revelation at Sinai was the most formative moment in the history of our people. At...Read more...

Beshallach/Shira 5782      January 15, 2022 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     On the one hand, Sisterhood Shabbat is a relic of the past, when women had a second-class role in the synagogue, and this was their only path to community leadership. They tell a story that when Mathilda Schechter, the wife of the chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the...Read more...

Bo 5782   January 8, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     I do not know about you, but I am getting really tired of COVID 19 in all its variations. There seem to be an endless supply of variants of a virus that is able to infect us human beings at supersonic speeds. I am happy, thrilled, that vaccinations and boosters mitigate the severity of the disease, and each variant seems to peak faster than the...Read more...

Vaera 5782     January 1, 2022

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     Moses begins this week’s parsha disappointed. Not only did Pharoah reject his demand to let the Israelite slaves go, but just asking to free the slaves has made the slave life more difficult. Like any good despot, Pharoah figures that if the slaves have time to contemplate freedom, then they are not working hard enough. So, he demands they keep...Read more...

Shemot 5782    December 25, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

     Long ago, I stopped asking people why they do not come to shul on Shabbat. Most of the time I embarrassed someone, and they would make up some excuse as to why they were not interested in praying. I am happy that all of you come to shul to pray and to learn a bit and value this enough to join us here every Shabbat. There are many reasons to be in shul and I suspect that...Read more...

Parshat Vayechi 5782     December 18, 2021 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

     The parsha this week is called “Vayechi” which means, “and he lived” referring to Jacob who is now living in Egypt. But the Torah, when it uses any form of the verb “to live” in a title, it generally means that someone is about to die. And true to form, both Jacob and Joseph die in this week’s parsha

     This is not the Torah expressing a lie, this is what we call a...Read more...

Vayigash 5782              December 11, 2021

Shabbat Shalom

     What does it mean to be a family?

     I know, it is an odd question. We all know what a family is. We all know what families do. But if we are a member of a family, what effect does it have on our life? Do we have to financially bail out our siblings? Do we have to care for aged parents? Do we...Read more...

Mikketz -Hanukkah 5782           December 4th, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Urim Sameach, Hodesh Tov and Shabbat Shalom

     I was speaking to a reporter last week about Hanukkah and the subtext that hovered around our conversation is that Hanukkah is a children’s holiday. While I do not deny that there is a lot for children in our celebration of this Festival of Lights, the real meaning of Hanukkah is not kid stuff. Sometimes, in the lighting of colored candles, spinning dreidels and...Read more...

Parshat Vayetze 5782         November 13, 2021

Rabbi Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

The psychology of Jacob as he leaves his home and goes off to the “old country” is filled with all manner of complications. What is going through the head of this man who will one day be the third patriarch of our people as he sets out on this journey? He certainly does not feel like a patriarch now. He has stolen the birthright and the blessing from his brother...Read more...

 Parshat Toldot 5782        November 6,2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

The rivalry between brothers that is the core of this week’s Parsha is legendary; twin boys who are locked in a sibling rivalry that seems to know no bounds. Jacob has the brains; Esau has the brawn. Jacob is clever in how he dupes his brother, but he knows that one small step over a line and Esau could crush him. Of course, at the prodding of his mother, Jacob steals the...Read more...

Parshat Hiyye Sarah 5782        October 30,2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

There is a famous poem that sometimes is read at funerals. Since our Parsha has two funerals, I would like to share today: THE DASH by Linda Ellis.

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning… to the end.

 

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears,...Read more...

Vagra 5782        October 23,2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

In our Parsha, God reveals to Abraham that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are to be destroyed because of their great wickedness. Rabbinic legend is filled with stories of the kind of evil that was in these twin cities. They were filled with cruelty to strangers, oppression of the orphan, the widow and the powerless. These evil cities used the law to perform acts of injustice. Pirke Avot...Read more...

 Parshat Lech-Lecha 5782        October 16,2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbinical School has many aspects to it. The Jewish Theological Seminary excels in the teaching of Bible, Talmud, Jewish Law and Jewish History. From time to time the students will put on a play (after all JTS is located on Broadway) and they do have a student life which puts on Hanukah and Purim celebrations. They tell me that once upon a time there was a...Read more...

 Parshat Noach 5782        October 9,2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.

During this time of COVID, we have learned how to do many things on the Zoom platform. We have learned how to attend classes on Zoom. Teachers can present material to share with others and there is even a whiteboard feature that a teacher can not only share with students, but students can share their ideas with the teacher.

We...Read more...

 Parshat Berayshit 5782        October 2,2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom… We made it through another holiday season!

The Torah begins as we all know, with the creation of the world. God uses ten sentences over seven days to create the heavens and the earth and the first holiday, Shabbat. It is a remarkable story as told in the first chapter of Genesis and even more remarkable because in Chapter two, there is another story told from a different point of view.

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Sukkot 5782        September 25,2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameach
The Torah reading we just finished is one of those readings that the sages have come back to,
over and over again, because there is so much in it that borders on the impossible to explain
easily. It takes place just after the great sin of the Golden Calf and the smashing of the first
tablets of the law that Moses has brought down from Sinai. It picks up with Moses not sure
what to do anymore....Read more...

Tue, November 29 2022 5 Kislev 5783