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Behar-Bechukotai 5783                    May 13, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

Verse 25:17 of this week’s parsha states: “Do not wrong one another, but fear your God; for I    Y-H-V-H am your God.” This is one verse in the Torah that in many ways sums up why the Torah is not just a book of laws. If there are any lawyers here, you know, perhaps intuitively, that this verse is not enforceable. It is very vague and there is...Read more...

Emor 5783              May 6, 2023 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.

Parshat Emor is part of the holiness code that makes up the central part of the book of Leviticus/Vayikra. While Yom Kippur was addressed last week in Achray Mot, this week we are introduced to the entire list of holidays on the Jewish calendar. First of all, like any calendar, this is only the list of the oldest holidays; there have been more added over time, some...Read more...

Achrei Mot-Kedoshim 5783              April 29, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom,

The Torah is quite clear. God commands Moses to tell the entire Israelite camp, “You shall be holy because I, The Lord your God, am holy.” As usual, when the Torah gives us a clear statement, it is anything but clear. For centuries, rabbis and sages have tried to understand what it means to be holy, and can we be holy like God?

This week’s double portion makes up the core of what biblical scholars call, the Holiness Code. Achray Mot deals with the ritual of Yom Kippur, when the Mishkan/Temple would have an annual cleansing of Tumah, the ritual impurity that arises every time a Jew sins. It not only affects the sinner but a trace of it accumulates in the Temple. Once a year, on Yom Kippur, that growing stash of Tumah must be removed. The High Priest cannot go into the Holy of Holies unless there is no Tumah in the Temple. To accomplish this, two goats are selected. One becomes a sacrifice, an offering from the people to say “I’m sorry” to God. The High Priest places his hands on the other goat, placing all the sins of the people in this one animal and then he sends it out into the wilderness where it will die. Not only does this ritual cleanse the Temple of the Tumah /of sin, but it cleanses the entire people of Israel as well. We all get a chance to start over. Read more...

Tazria-Metzora 5783                   April 22, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

When Rosh Hodesh comes just a week or so after Pesach, it used to be annoying to me. After a week of extra prayers, Torah readings, Musaf and Hallel, after reading Shir HaShirim and praying for Tal/Dew, it is good to get back to normal daily and Shabbat prayer. And yet, just when we think that we have six more weeks until the next holiday, Rosh Hodesh comes along and...Read more...

Shmini 5783                    April 15, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

There is nothing more personal than mourning. When we confront the death of someone we love, no matter if that person is family or just a friend, we can feel our heart tearing apart and the emotional pain that can rival physical pain. How we handle death is extremely personal. Some will cry openly and some only cry in private. Some will respond with anger, and some...Read more...

Pesach VIII 5783      April 13, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

Some of the most difficult decisions we have to make is deciding how we will spend our time. Fifty years ago, this was not as difficult as it is today. Fifty years ago, there was only one movie theatre in town. There were only three television stations. The downtown stores were the only places one could buy what was needed. Our choices about how we spent our time was...Read more...

Pesach VII 5783       April 12, 2023 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

The Israelites, on that first Pesach, left the slave yards of Egypt and quickly “packed their wagons” to get out of town before Pharoah changed his mind again. They had to move out so fast that they didn’t have time to pack a lunch, let alone other food for the trip. Some of the modern commentators are puzzled by this quick Exodus. They had been preparing for two...Read more...

Pesach 5783                April 6, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

I remember Pesach in my home when I was a child. Beginning at the end of Purim, my mother took apart every item of furniture, opened every drawer, cleaned out every closet and cabinet, so that when Pesach arrived, there would be no trace of Hametz in my house.

My mother was also a great cook, and for days she (and sometimes with her...Read more...

Vayikra 5783                  March 25, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

The third book of the Bible, Vayikra/Leviticus begins with a call to Moshe Rabbenu. Perhaps it was necessary to call Moshe because he was outside the Mishkan. If you recall, last week, as the Mishkan was assembled, the cloud of God’s glory filled the tent and there was no room for Moshe inside. God would have to “call” Moshe to join God in the Mishkan, the Tent...Read more...

Ki Tisa 5783                          March 11, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Shalom, Shalom. We say Shalom but there is no Shalom. Not in Israel. Not in our Jewish State.

Those of us who follow what happens in Israel closely understand that we are standing in a moment unlike any other moment in Israel’s history. Politically, Israel is going through something very much like the United States is going through. There is a battle of...Read more...

Mishpatim 5783                          February 18th, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Our parsha this week, Mishpatim, follows the great revelation at Sinai. After the people have heard God speak, we can ask, what is left to know about God. This week Moses enters the cloud on the top of Mount Sinai to learn the details of the Law. It is easy to teach the Ten Commandments; it is harder to fully understand what they mean and how we are to live by these...Read more...

Beshelach 5783                                     February 4th, 2023

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.

One of my favorite sayings is “Human Beings have an infinite capacity to delude themselves.” The reason I like it so much is because it is true. We all delude ourselves in any number of ways thinking things that, if we stop to consider it, we know are not true. If you said any of the following things you are guilty of self-delusions. I am not looking for...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...

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...

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...

Mon, February 26 2024 17 Adar I 5784