Parashat Hashavua

VaYeshev - a Secret from the Kabala - from my friend Yoel the Yemenite!

VaYeshev -  a Secret from the Kabala - from my friend Yoel the Yemenite!
 How many ways can you go wrong – and still be in the right place at the right time?
It all depends on how you look at things - 
If you look at it one way – it's this – and if you look at it the opposite way  -
It can be STILL like this!
The Hebrew word is NATAN (which means "to give" or Gave" – and it's also the Hebrew for the name Nathan) –
And if you look at it forward or backward - in English like in Hebrew - it's spelled the same and comes out the same.
And you can learn the deepest truths from every word of the Torah!
Et Achai Ani MeChapess – I'm searching for my brothers – from this week's portion - is a song recorded by Aron Raizel
  Joseph was "searching for his brothers" - for the GOOD  in them.
 " Because of My Bothers - and Sisters - and friends" – Words by King David and tune by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
a song that continues "Please let me ask – peace to you".
When you do somthing for someone ....
My friend Yoel said this morning he (about 60) invites his elderly mother every shabbat to be with his family - and he knows the more he gives to them all - the MORE HE RECEIVES!
  So the word NATAN is N T N (no vowels in the Torah) in Hebrew - and the secret is - if you see you are giving - and you see you are receiving - you have learned the secret of that word from the Torah! 
Jacob gives Joseph a striped coat - why ? Because every stripe stands for a different brother - each one being different  ... and Joseph goes looking for them at his father's request to bring them some home-cooking while they are out watching the flocks. To GIVE - but he never gets to give them anything -
He knows there's a danger - but he's looking for them - for the good in them. And he ends up in prison.
As my friend Rabbi Sholom Brodt wrote this week about the Joseph story:
These stories are about opening our hearts to our children, opening our hearts to our brothers and sisters.
 Joseph ended up being in prison for 12 years [one year for each of the twelve brothers, including himself]. Where he learns toGIVE to the needy ...
"The Torah is teaching us these stories so that we should know what we have to fix, that we have to fix it and how to fix it."
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

A Torah for the Winter - the Second Book of the Five

A Torah for the Winter - the Second Book of the Five
Portion of Shemos

Is the  burning bush a symbol for eternity - or a flashy way to catch Moses' - and our - eye or imagination?

Pharoah's Daughter saves Moses - why in the world?

Moses kills an egyptian Bully - what got into his head - this guy brought up as an Egyptian?

Moses argues with the Almighty - he sounds too scared to redeem his people - or just wants to stay home with his wife and kids?

There are so many questions - and they're all at the bottom of "what really makes a Jew a Jew (or a non-Jew want to convert)!

Moses is the archetype of Jewish Leader – considerate and kind and brave!
Batya the daughter of Pharoah is the archetype of person who joins the Jewish people – considerate and kind and taking risks (how did she convince Pharoah to let her raise a Jewish child when he was killing all the others?
Aron is the archetype of humble priest – happy for his brother's connection to G-d – and helping to confront the Egyptian taskmasters
Miriam is the wise and brave Jewish woman whose quick response to Pharoah's daughter saves her brother Moses who was floating down the river in a tiny basket...
And G-d -  reflected in the burning bush – the eternal flame, the eternal quest to bring  holiness  INTO THIS WORLD –  
 a challenge to us all to "get Pharoah to let the people go AND BECOME MY SERVANTS IN THIS WORLD "
 It allbegins this week in the portion of Shemos - And the story will continue to unfold in the coming weeks …
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion od Vayera - portion of war and peace - plagues on Egypt?

Portion od Vayera - portion of war and peace - plagues on Egypt?
My friend Rabbi Sholom Brodt wrote about this week's portion to remind us
"Being at Peace is not just NOT being at War"
The children of Israel in Egypt
and the children of Israel today in Israel France Sweden - and yes - in the US
do not just face 9/11 's (and 7/11's) and supermarket murder-sprees-
and college campus demonstrations by Arab-oil-money backed organizations
The WORLD is not at Peace - the world needs "SHABBOS!"
Stop - WORLD - be at PEACE for a day - and see how BLESSED we ALL can be!!!
To whom did G-d tell Moshe to address his statement that he was taking the people out of Egypt?
I don't think I ever heard Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach mention Hitler's name -
Remember Rabbi Carlebach's family miraculously got out of Austria at the last minute -
I was with a group in Vienna with Rabbi Carlebach for a day -
and I felt the anti-Semitism around us-
and our group heard stories of it from the Austrian Jews who acompanied us -
But wherever Rabbi Shlomo went
and with whomever he spoke (one person or a group)
 he brought a little bubble of peace and love and SHABBOS -
as he always said "Real peace you make person to person - not government to government.
So in the begining of the portion the Almighty speaks to Moses and says 
"tell the children of Israel I will save redeem bring out - and bring you ... "
but is the message ONLY to the Israelites? Read between the lines ...
the Almighty does not say "I will destroy them ..."
and in the face of all the non-believers Moses and Aron show the signs - the plagues -
G-d says "I will bring you out with Mishpatim Gedolim" -
Mishpatim - with judgments - against Pharoah
Gedolim - AWESOME ONES - on ALL the people of Egypt - so the WORLD will hear!
The results we can learn when the Egyptians give thanks and presents to the Israelites as they leave - 
see the portion next week.
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz 

Bo El Paro – Moses - Step Up to the Plate!

Bo El Paro – Moses - Step Up to the Plate!
Remember the heroines of the portion a couple of weeks ago? 
Where are all the heroines now when Moses is in his battle of wills with Pharoah?
We will hear from them in Next week's study entitled "Dance (not) Like an Egyptian"
But remember - that when Moshe was first "called up", Moses was refusing to go to the Israelites or Pharoah!
And now he's taking big swings at the ball? How'd that happen?
In the beginning G-d sends Moses back to the plate (Egypt's palace) to take a swipe at Pharoah - But Now we need  a home run
And he's ready - because the Almighty says BO (come with me) not GO (yourself)! G-d is always with us as we battle evil slavey and inhuman behavior - and so he was with Moshe Rabeinu (our teacher).
SO - What's at the end of this week's portion? 
A new creation – the freedom of a people to worship the Unity of G-d -  the Almighty - the G-d of Abraham Isaac and Jacob – and leave Egypt's evil forever –
And to forever change he world!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz  (Inspired by Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriya -Thanks Zev for the exerpt from your Dad's book)

Beshalach – Walk Like an Egyptian DON'T

Beshalach – Walk Like an Egyptian DON'T
"By the Sea By the Sea by the beautiful (RED) sea …"
The Israelites walked in with trepidation and awe after seeing one of their leaders jump ahead as Moses parted the sea 
in the name of the Almighty
The ego and greed in the hearts of the Egyptians (not even hatred) got them to run ahead – and be destroyed by the raging waters
How were the pyramids built? By love of G-d – or by greed and ego?
How was (and is) the land of Israel built? On appreciation of the MIRACLE of our existence as Jews or Israelites, and the awe of this beautiful land the Almighty  gave us.
And who were the teachers of this appreciation? - OUR MOTHERS
as Rabbi Carlebach taught on the Zohar -  (quoted from Rabbi Brodt of Jerusalem"
As we crossed the sea, Moshe and all of B’nai Yisrael, including Miriam and all the women, sang the 'shirat hayam' (the song of the sea) to Hashem. 
Happy Shabbat Shira - the sabbath of SONG
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion of Yisro - Jethro - and the Women of Israel ...?

Portion of Yisro - Jethro - and the Women of Israel ...?

First the portion states that Yisro - Jethro - came to Moses in the desert with Zipora and Moses' 2 sons,
and then-
The Almighty appears to us and the 10 Commandments are Pronounced!
What's the connection?
Really the Torah is teaching us again that the women are the heroines! 
Here - MOSES' WIFE - ZIporah!
After all -how did Yisro find the Israelites in the desert?
Did he ask pharoah where they were? No.
Maybe he called Moses on his cell phone to ask where they were staying?
(No - he probably didn't have Moses' number).
Did he find the encampment by prophecy? Not likely for an idol worshipper priest!
It must be that Ziporah found them!
(Remember the old joke - that women are not afraid to ask directions?)
SHE GOT HER FATHER TO MOSES - and she rejoined the People of Israel
(remember - she gave her son the Bris in the desert when Moses was called to Egypt-
she was a full partner in the Israelite Traditions since Abraham!)
There is a Torah biktav - and a Torah baal peh
(the written torah - and the oral tora) -
Reb Shlomo used to say - "what's the oral torah? It's the torah that each of us has to add to the torah".
Is it our story? our insight? our teaching?
In my humble opinion the teaching of the past few weeks can be-
Ziporah is the strength of the Jewish Woman - 
Miriam is the song of the Jewish Mother -
Pharoah's daughter is the saving of the Jewish Leader who can teach the Egyptians and the World -
And Ruth is the power of faith in the G-d of Israel - and she is the great grandmother of King David.
So the 10 Commandments remind us to honor our fathers and mothers -
a great Pronouncement - for that time - and still for today!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion of Mishpatim – SO MANY LAWS! A goat and a widow? Damages or kindness?

Portion of Mishpatim – SO MANY LAWS! A goat and a widow? Damages or kindness?

What is the connection in our portion this week between a goat and a widow? How can the same portion one second discuss laws of damages and in the next laws of doing kindness even to those you may not like??
When Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach sat Shiva for his twin brother he taught us very deep principles of the Tree of Life versus the Tree of Knowledge, things which we can use every day – but I can only mention a couple today.
He said (to paraphrase) that "Tree of Knowledge" things may give you a buzz – but they don't leave a good TASTE in your mouth or in your spirit like (the principles of) the Tree of Life. G-d gave us the Torah to give us LIFE.
Again to paraphrase – He said that when we celebrate Melava Malka – a LITTLE meal AFTER the Sabbath – we are celebrating that GOOD THINGS STAY WITH US FOREVER – the TASTE of the SHABBAT should not be lost.
I (AE) want you to know IT IS NOT COMMANDED IN THE TORAH to  celebrate Melava Malka – a LITTLE meal AFTER the Sabbath – but if you REVIEW the portion the Torah the FEELING of Shabbat after sundown – you get a TASTE OF GAN EDEN, the Tree of Life – heaven on earth.
Reb Eli Chaim (said Rabbi Shlomo of his twin) added those customs that tasted the holiness of Gan Eden – heaven – and lived a heavenly life.
Every Torah law in this portion has a simple – and also a deeper AND TASTEFUL- meaning, whether it is the law not to hurt the widow or orphan, the law not to damage a neighbor's garden, the law requiring doing good for even people you may not like (we're not talking about helping evil here) – and yes-even the Mitzva of giving your firstborn GOAT to the Kohain (for his service as teacher and Temple functionary) -  is a taste heaven.
ALL THESE MANY LAWS – the whole portion -they are a part of the STORY of Israel and a taste of heaven – may we be blessed to study, understand, appreciate, and share the INNER JOY and PEACE we can derive from each of them!
Shabat Shalom

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz
3AM The Eve of Shabbat, in the cold of the New York Exile

Trumah and Adar and Purim - and who are we really

Trumah and Adar and Purim - and who are we really
The Torah is about Abraham's journey and his childrens' - all the way down to US.
The 2nd thru the 5th Books of the 5 Books of Moses are about Moses' journey - and about US.
On the surface we read this week's Portion and it is about Building a Temple on the shifting sands of the Sinai desert-
As Rabbi Neria wrote - Moses was sent a vision from the Almighty about how the Tabernacle should look. But as the work progressed it did not always seem correct - 
until he realized there were arguments between the worlers!
So he spent time smoothing out the disagreements - and then the pieces of the Tabernacle fit together perfectly.
That is our task individually and as a people  - Am Yisrael - the People of the Book - which is 
the Plan of the Al-mighty!
So - what are the tools?     PURIM teaches that!
As Rebbe Nachman taught -
By joy, by dancing, by clapping to the beat -
and by desiring to bring G-d's Holiness into this world!
As Mordechai Told Esther "Revach V Hatzalah ... Me Makom ..." -
you can interpret his words to her as
" G-d's will is done anyway - so let's be a part of it!"
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz
in frozen New York 

Tetzaveh - Make Special Priestly Garments - and on Purim - wear a Mask

Tetzaveh - Make Special Priestly Garments - and on Purim - wear a Mask
Based on a talk by Rabbi Carlebach (with my interpretation)
Amalek and Haman try to bring us down by saying :
Sure you LOOK like you're doing something good,
but on the INSIDE you don't mean it!
This week's portion commands Moses and Aron to have special garments made for the Priests to wear in the Temple
Their MAIN job was to BLESS the people of Israel - 
something that MUST come from the heart.
The garments are to PROTECT us from the OUTSIDE
so that INSIDE the heart would overflow with Blessings.
How did the blessings flow from the priests - and from ALL of us?
How do you wipe out EVIL like Haman's evil?
When your heart Overflows with Blessings.
But if the EVIL AMALEK and HAMAN come to you and say on Purim
"you can't destroy the Evil in the World because Inside you really doesn't WANT to!"
Evil throws DOUBTS at us 
and at our resolve to do GOOD and to BLESS each other.
On Purim you LEARN to tell "old man evil" that:
"Look at me? See the Mask?
See my Jewish Uniform?
It's not just "little old ME" but
that wants to wipe out Evil -
and that's the TRUTH that can't be denied!"
We ALL want evil to be destroyed -
so have NO SELF DOUBTS that we EACH are a PART of wiping out the Evil in the world.
Gutt Shabbos
Gutt Purim
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Vayishlach – Why did Jacob show his kids to Esav?

Vayishlach – Why did Jacob show his kids to Esav?
What – more  Jacob and sending  angels – or  Messengers – to his brother who's on his way to kill them all?
Now Jacob has the 12 tribes – and a daughter – but who are the angels here?
 we are – this people of Israel
Michael and the angels of Israel – a true story
I don't know if I ever told you about the guy who slipped in his hotel room in Jerusalem – and fell into a coma …
But the wonders of G-d are worked through the angels of Israel – and hopefully the whole world will some day understand why Jacob struggled with the angel of DEATH – the angel of Esav his murderous brother – 
what CHESED means – loving kindness on a G-dly level – and if you read this week's portion – maybe the reason we're all here…
So this guy slips in a hotel room – is found a day or so later by the tour leader who sent him to that hotel room -and is sent to the not-best hospital in Jerusalem –
on a noisy street with nearly the worst air quality in the city – because he's in a coma in a city where he has no relatives to look after him -  so who cares?
Well' the staff there care for Michael as best they can – the nurses the doctors the physical therapists – they're all working for a month or so to try to keep him alive as he "sleeps" close to death…but let's face it – how long? So his sister comes from America, takes his "stuff" back to the US – clothes, computer, whatever he had – and waits for the worst – and how long does the average patient last on a coma – before the muscles atrophy, and – what?
So I heard from a friend about the guy – who I knew a little from New York – and when I'm in Jerusalem once in a while I go visit, sit next to the bed, help the nurses with a little physical therapy, try to get him a drop of water, fluff up his pillow – but what do I know?
The Holy Kabalists know – and they say we are tested every day – and we DON'T KNOW WHY WE ARE ON THIS WORLD – OR WHAT WE HAVE TO DO TO CLAIM A SPOT IN HEAVEN …
Rabbi Carlebach used to tell stories of the Holy Water Carriers – the shleppers – the Jews in Europe who couldn't even thread a needle and survived by bringing water to others and thus earning their daily bread – so who knows what our great grandparents did to survive in a world that didn't and doesn't recognize the Jewish purpose in this world' to teach CHESED…?
So on and off for a few months I visit maybe once a week maybe twice – talk to Michael but never get an answer – exercise his legs and arms like the nurses ask me to –
And maybe my place on this world is to – well – here's what happens after months when the staff never gave up –
one afternoon Michael opens his eyes and I hear him mumble – "Andy get me some ice cream"! And the eyes close again. Really did I hear that? So I go get a nurse.
 She come in. Again the eyes open.  I say, Michael do you know how long you've been here?
"A week?" he says. "Three months" I think I said.
"I still want some ice cream" he says and the eyes close again. The nurse asks the head nurse and she says it's okay 
but only SUGARLESS! But where to get sugarless ice cream? and what flavor if the eyes are closed again?
So I run to the best ice cream store in downtown Jerusalem, get a couple of flavors and run back. The nurse feed him some ice cream – and thus starts a year of recovery and rehab and more loving care from people who never knew Michael but who now is in the best rehab hospital in Jerusalem – Mihael the Miracle of CHESED.
And in the portion  Jacob goes to his Father Isaac and thus continues the story of the Children of Israel in the Land of Israel … and yes – I saw Michael – walking - on a bus in Jerusalem not long ago, may he (and all of us)  live long and may we all be blessed to do acts of Loving Kindness and bring the world to know and love the angels of Israel ….because the world needs  to learn …
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz