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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.

Read more...

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...

Yom Kippur 5782        September 16,2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Gemar Tov – May our fasting and prayers today bring us to a good conclusion.
Rabbi Ed Feinstein of California tells the Hasidic story called, “The Storyteller.”
When the Ba’al Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidism died, his disciples gathered to distribute his worldly possessions. One was given his tefillin and another his shtender/lectern. One received his books and another his kiddush cup. 
At the end of the line waited...Read more...

Kol Nidre 5782                     September 15, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Tzom Kal, May all of us have an easy Fast.
We have been fighting this Pandemic of COVID 19 for a year and a half. As we sit here with masks and socially distant, we wonder what has changed over the past 18 months? But if we pause to think about last Yom Kippur and this Yom Kippur, we can see that we have come a long way.
Last year, we had to blow the shofar in our parking lot, and we needed to do Yizkor online and in advance. We were...Read more...

Rosh Hashana Day 2, 5782        September 8, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

L’shana Tova U’metuka – I wish everyone a happy and sweet new year.
Five years ago, I was watching the news, shortly after Donald Trump became President of the United States. The news commentator had a problem. The President had said that day something that was undeniably false. It could be proven wrong. There was clear evidence that the President had told a lie. The commentator didn’t know what to do. It felt wrong to call the...Read more...

Rosh Hashana Day 1, 5782            September 7, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

L’shana Tova U’metukah – May we be blessed with a sweet and good New Year.

There is a story, perhaps a myth, told by Dr. M. Scott Peck in his book, The Different Drum. It is called The Rabbi's Gift. 
The story concerns a monastery that had fallen upon hard times. Once a great order, all its branch houses were lost and it had become decimated to the extent that there were only five monks left in the decaying mother...Read more...

Ki TetzehAugust 21, 2021 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom, 
It never ceases to amaze me how simple Halachot/Mitzvot/Laws of the Torah can have significance throughout the ages. Even if we think that they have long ago passed into disuse, somehow, they always find new meaning in a different era. This week’s parsha has no less than 72 mitzvot in it, more than any other parsha. As the Torah comes to its end, this parsha serves as a catch all for the miscellaneous laws that...Read more...

Shoftim   August 14, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.

It was Kellyann Conway, an advisor to former President Trump who coined the phrase, “Alternative Facts”. It was an amazing change from the time of Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who reminded his colleagues that “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”
This is now the world that we live in, a world where people argue about what the real “facts” are. This is the era...Read more...

Parshat Reeh August 7, 2021 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom.
Rabbi Mordechai Silverstein is a good friend of mine; we attended Rabbinical School together and have stayed in touch even after he made Aliyah to Israel where he has lived and taught Torah for many years. He now has a Torah Blog that appears in the Times of Israel and this week his insights were not only sharp, but important as well.
In our Parsha, at the very beginning of Chapter 14 of Devarim, there is a commandment...Read more...

Parshat Ekev  July 31,2021 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

There is a radio podcast on NPR called, “This American Life” that is narrated by Ira Glass, a not very religious Jew who had a pretty religious background. I have listened to it from time to time, but I don’t really have much time to spend listening to radio. Dr. Neil Brooks, our member, told me that I should listen to a particular episode of the podcast, and if I can’t hear the whole thing, I should check out...Read more...

Parshat V’etchanan        July 24, 2021

Shabbat Shalom.

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Eleanor Rigby
Died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie
Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved
All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?
The Beatles song, “Elinor Rigby”...Read more...

Parshat Balak Bar Mitzvah of Lucas Carlson   June 26, 2021 

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom 
Lucas,
We can talk all we want about Talking Donkeys, blessings, and curses and how to obey what God tells us but there is a very important underlying message in this Parsha that I want to call to your attention. 


Balak is a king who is used to getting what he wants. He also knows that when someone wants him to act on their behalf, they will have to come with some kind of a bribe to convince the...Read more...

 Parshat Hukkat June 19, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom
There are two things that stand out in Parshat Hukkat. One is the law of the Red Cow. It is striking because the law seems to contradict itself. It makes someone ritually pure no matter how severe the impurity might be, and yet, whoever handles the ashes becomes impure. How can something that purifies also be a source of impurity? I will leave that discussion for another day. 
The other part of the text of the...Read more...

Parshat Korah  June 21, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

During the time of this pandemic, I have taken advantage of our time together to open discussions about issues in the Jewish community to let everyone have a chance to speak what is on their minds so we can learn from each other, and I can tailor my message to where you find yourselves today. I have greatly enjoyed these discussions. I know that not everyone is ready to speak up about their feelings on many of these topics, but I do think...Read more...

D’var Torah – Second Day Shavuot/Yizkor                      May 18, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

The great Rabbi Akiva did not begin his studies until he was 40 years old. He had to go to school with his young son to learn to read. It is not recorded how embarrassed he was to be in an elementary school class at midlife, but he was determined to be something more than an illiterate shepherd. His wife encouraged him to be more than what he was, and as he learned the wisdom inside of him became apparent to all. 

On this holiday...Read more...

Torah Study: First Day of Shavuot   May 17, 2021

Rabbi Randall J. Konigsburg

Bex Stern Rosenblatt, who’s words have appeared frequently in these study sheets, last week raised an important issue that we should contemplate on this first day of Shavuot. Shavuot is the holiday we celebrate the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. A close reading of the text may cause us to wonder if this was a book/scroll handed to us by God when Moses stood on top of the mountain, or if the teachings that God taught to Moses became the...Read more...

Yom Kippur 5780. October 9, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Gemar Hatima Tova – May we be sealed for Good in the Book of Life.

 

The late Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi used to tell a story about a man who heard that Shabbat, in the town of Libush, when its rabbi was still alive, was...Read more...

Kol Nidre 5780. October 8, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

I wish everyone a Tzom Kal – an easy fast

 

African story of the Sky Maiden: tribe notices that someone is stealing milk. Young man stays up all night to catch the thief. Just before dawn, beautiful woman comes down on beam of...Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5780. September 30, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Hag Sameach

Many years ago, when my children were young, they decided one Sukkot that they wanted to sleep in our Sukkah. The sukkah was in the back yard; there was a solid fence around the yard, and it should have been a pretty safe place for children to spend the night....Read more...

Nitzavim: Prehistoric Teshuva. September 28, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Text:

וּמָל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶת-לְבָבְךָ וְאֶת-לְבַב זַרְעֶךָ לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל-לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁךָ לְמַעַן חַיֶּיךָ.

Then the Lord your God will open up your heart and the hearts of...Read more...

Ekev.  August 24, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

When I was very young, my family lived just over a half mile from our synagogue. We walked to shul every Shabbat and Holiday. We lived so close that when visiting speakers needed to be housed for Shabbat near the shul, we always offered our home. And yet,...Read more...

V'etchanan.  August 17, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbis always face a hard decision every Shabbat. Sometimes the news calls us to speak out about injustice in the world. Judaism is about justice and we need to remind our congregations about our commitment to justice. Sometimes terrible disasters, man-made...Read more...

Devarim.  August 10, 2019

Rabbi Randall Konigsburg

Shabbat Shalom
As we returned from our trip to Great Britain, we had a selection of movies to help us pass the time on the long flight across the Atlantic. In the classics section was the famous movie, “Casablanca” with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. It was a good opportunity to connect with a favorite movie, so Michelle and I settled in to “play it again.”
There is a long set at the beginning of the movie where the...Read more...

Sat, July 2 2022 3 Tammuz 5782