Parashat Hashavua

Portion VayikRa and Purim in the Sinai - The Original 2-Days of Fasting?

Portion VayikRa and Purim in the Sinai - The Original 2-Days of Fasting?
What changes and What stays the same?
Does Fasting and Prayer relieve the pain of the world?
What? Still war in Europe? Just like in the middle Ages?

Remember the Afghani war dance:
"Russian in ...  Russian out .... America in .... and then Drop Arms and Run Out"
And we read in the portion - about the wicked Amalek in Parsha Zachor on Shabat.
So you think you heard it all before? YET - The Almighty speaks to us in so many ways. HOW?
In this week portion the Almighty CALLS to Moshe - to start the third book of the Torah!
AND sacrifice as atonement.
So what (or WHO) will Putin sacrifice this Shabbat?
Is there ANYTHING We can fix now? And How?
Years ago I brought my little band and a Megilla Reader to some Israeli bases in the Sinai.
We came on the Esther fast day - and started the evening in a base on the Suez Canal.
After Megilla they asked us to play while the soldiers ate. Okay.
After that they took us to another base. Okay.
After playing there, the kitchens were closed and we didn't eat.
In the AM we read Megilla again - and on the way to breakfast -
the driver told us he was taking us back to the airstrip 
so we could be home that night -
because a hundred soldiers were lined up waiting for the flight back to the airbase.
We got back to Jerusalem in time to hear the Megilla again! 
And after 2 days of fasting, were able to eat a PURIM MEAL. Hopefully after healing a little bit of the sadness of soldiers far away from home.
Happy Almost Purim.
So send
Prayers for all our brothers and sisters - especially our Holy Brothers and Holy Sisters - all over.
Health and Peace to the World
Shabbat Shalom - and Maybe Spend some Time praying for a Little World Wisdom!
Hear that world???? Too noisy while you are fighting? Maybe Take a Break from Strife and learn TORAH!
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Pekuday - who Remembers the Waltz of "Russia in Afghanistan"?

Portion Pekuday - who Remembers the Waltz of "Russia in Afghanistan"?
Why should we study Portion Pekuday about how the Temple in the desert was set up?
Especially as a war is raging and people are running and hurting!
The waltz -dance  in my lifetime was always:
 "Russian in ...  Russian out .... America in .... and then Drop Arms and Run Out"
And the Russian Crushin' of Hungary? And all eastern Europe.
Who in the Stupid State Department is telling Biden to Pay the Iranians to fund rocket attacks on the Gulf States and from Lebanon and Gaza?
And we built temples in the desert in our minds eye?
So the question is often asked, why in the world did there have to be sacrifices in the Temple(s)?
And animal rights activists get frothy about innocent animals being offered on the altar.
But then in our portion
The Almighty says the people donated EVERYTHING for the Temple
and Jewish Artists formed the Desert Temple exactly as G-d's Plan,
And the Temple in the desert was considered a microcosm of the Total Universe and
That we need to relate all the portions of the Temple Services to OUR UNIVERSE!!!
And indeed the world keeps offering up innocents in so many ways - no just animals -
The sacrifices of our TEMPLES WERE OF 2 KINDS -
the Olah sacrifices - which were to be burned - TO TELL THE WORLD to
SEE - this is what you are ALL doing - 
And sacrificing PEOPLES' LIVES on your ALTARS OF GREED!
I think there is much to teach 
From This Portion
the world about how to plan out a better world!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz
תשובהתשובה לכולםהעברה

Portion VaYakHail :OUR Temple from the Desert to FIX a Bully-style World ? FRIDAY AM

Portion VaYakHail :OUR Temple from the Desert to FIX a Bully-style World ? FRIDAY AM

Ukraine? Russia? EU? Biden? Come on guys - what's really going on?

In the Holy Spheres - who knows?
But Rav Yaskil - based on Rebbe Nachman -brings a Parable

All his soldiers rebelled against the King - except ONE.
When that ONE saved the kingdom-
The RULER appointed them all Dukes.

Rebbe Nachman says,
MOSHE stands between Destruction - and G-d's WILL

Heavy Kabbalistic stuff - but to take a STAB at it -
I think:
If the Mishkan - the Tabernacle in the desert
Is supposed to be a microcosm of the world

How do we -
After destructions of ALL our temples -
Work to fix our world?

Things are moving very fast in Ukraine - and
as an Israeli teacher friend of mine
(Sefaradi - not related to holocaust sufferers)
noted a couple of days ago - about the holocaust -
The Ukrainians murdered over 100000 Jews before the Nazis took over -

So he feels this war is not our concern.

Except on a MACRO HISTORIC level -
as another friend of mine noted -

Putin is a gangster acting like ALL the other historical gangsters -
who cause useless death and destruction. (Stalin was no nice-guy).


which served us 40 years - and then was moved to SHILOH
and served us another 369 years

Are we supposed to ask: IS studying it a help to
keep Russia out of "our little desert" - and the whole world?

Or are we supposed to invite Putin and Zelensky to

the Western Wall for a Peace Conference?

PORTION VAYAKhEL Starts Out with - yes - SHABBOS!

The Zohar (Kabala) in talking about King David
Amon and Moav - desert kingdoms near Israel -
which fought the early ISRAELITES

contributed to the Eternal Royalty
Of the House of David!

OIY! But it happened over generations -
and we probably don't have that much time.

So the whole world OBVIOUSLY needs - you got it -

Shabbos !

Maybe the Chief Rabbi of Russia (or Poland?)
can invite Putin for a Shabbos Dinner -

(I do not think that historically "Peace Movements"
HAVE ANY RELATIONSHIP to lasting peace-

but I DO think that SHABBOS in every way

can have a lasting impact on PEACE.

So here's another little item:

One of my friends actually came to Jerusalem,
brought some good stuff to the Great Synagogue Kolel,
and I got some things as well, and

During a break between classes all the participants at my Kolel
made blessings -
over the fruits and nuts and burekas and halva we brought,
and after some words in memory - a few of us drank a short "L Chaim",
in memory and for uplifting of the soul of
Aharon Layble
Harrow Of Barrow ("street" -how I like to remember him) )

And May The Peace of Shabbat
and Peace of GOOD MEMORIES
soon FIX the WORLD!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Key TeeSah - the Calf and Us - Rabbi Nachman on Eating Crow

Portion Key TeeSah - the Calf and Us - Rabbi Nachman on Eating Crow

As I wrote to a friend, this was the first WHOLE Torah portion I read at age 15 because my bar Mitzvah was on a Thursday so no guests would have to travel on Shabbat -and that means only 3 Aliyas

Each of the first 2 Aliyahs in the portion is long enough and complex enough to rival some whole portions in the Torah!

And included is the story of making the Golden Calf ...

Now jumping over to one of my weekly study sessions:
In a story by Rebbe Nachman, a crippled businessman is left by robbers to die in the forest after his helper runs from the robbers.
Having no other survival plan, he lives a few days by rolling on the ground and eating grass (eating "crow").
Seeing some good looking plant, he rolls over to eat it for lunch, and when he pulls it up, he finds a diamond tangled in its roots!

You might ask, what's a HUNGRY cripple to do with a diamond in the middle of a forest where Robbers Run Loose?

Leaving that open ... and Moving right Along, we learn from
Zohar (kabalah) which brings this teaching at the end of this portion:

Moses - the most humble human- goes up Mount Sinai to receive the 10 Commandments.

(You might ask who is more humble than a cripple surviving on grass in a forest?)

So any way, Moshe Rabaynu, Moses,
Encounters - and is stopped by - angels who dont trust Humanity with the Holy Torah!

The Almighty himself gives Moshe strength to get past them, to the "place of 40 days and 40 nights" of learning the Whole Torah.

And then the Golden Calf infects the camp below, causing a little riot - and G-d is displeased -

As opposed to: (and this is still the Zohar)
While at the red Sea EVERYONE saw the hand of G d!

But then,
After the Calf incident, and
After the Almighty sends Moshe back down with the words:
"Your People Destroyed (G-d's plans which WERE a GOOD thing)"

The people were all too ashamed to even look Moses in the face-
Even with getting the second set of 2 Tablets of Torah commandmentsè ...

But Moshe knew it was still his job to teach them for the next almost 40 years

Dealing with Angels as well as with sinners - humble Moshe just did his jòb!

And the humble Moshe built a "Jewel of a Temple" in the desert ... for us to read about -
With the allegory in Rabbi Nachman's story adding a dimension -
about humility,
and how the Almighty takes care of things for ALL.
And in next week's portion - my brothrs bar mitzva portion (- so Be Well Joe! Thanks Sheryl!) we learn more about the mishkan!

Questions about cripples and diamonds can be addressed to me in NY please G-d in a couple of weeks

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz
Preparing and Packing for Purim


Portion TeTzaVeh - on Graft Negligence and Responsibility

Portion TeTzaVeh -  on Graft Negligence and Responsibility
Right now Israel news is mostly about police spyware checking telephones illegally
No judge or politician or police leader has opened up about how when and why it began
Was it negligence of 20 years that led to this loss of integrity, as some are saying?
Leadership is at a premium today in the world.
Statesmanship - always sparse in supply - seems to have given way to simple greed
What is going on with Russia, with Venezuela, with the new anti-semitic vice president in Honduras (a Palestinian), in the Yemen war - and Afghanistan - etc? 
So this week was Moses' birthday - and Yahrzeit (anniversary of passing).
What lessons can the world learn today from Moshe our Leader?
Was he a great leader because he followed Yitro's advice?
Was he a Statesman who kept the 12 tribes from clashing with one another?
Was appointing his famous brother as High Priest (a job Moses held until the Mishkan/Temple was built) a move approved by the masses - 
or simple nepotism (even though Moses/Moshe Rabaynu COULD have appointed his own sons - even to be priests - which he did NOT)
So my friend STUIE brough to our attention what Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach taught about Moses from this week's portion: (Reb Shlomo speaking:)
Parshas Tetzaveh, is the one Portion where Moshe Rabainu’s ( Moses) name is omitted from the Torah during his lifetime.
Tetzaveh stands as an eternal tribute to Moshe Rabainu, It is the Torah’s own testimony to Moshe Rabainu’s greatness in giving up every thing in order to preserve his bond and love with his people and restore them to their G-d.”
“Include Me Out*
See here my beautiful friends, Moshe Rabbeinu came down and brought us the Ten Commandments. When he came down it says that no one could look directly at him "Ki Karan Or Panav", gevalt was he shining like the sun. We realized that whatever he is telling us is only a fraction of what he really heard in heaven.
So here I want you to know something. What did Moshe Rabainu hear in heaven which he really didn't give over to us just yet? Humanly speaking, during the forty nights G-d was sitting with Moshe and telling him what all the laws really mean, mamesh what the whole Torah really means. Gevalt was it real.
So when did Moshe Rabainu give over to us this inside, the real meaning of everything?
After the golden calf, G-d says "I'm going to wipe out the Yidden -I'll wipe out the Yidden, and you will be the only one alive." So Moshe Rabainu says "If you wipe out all the Yidden, 'Mecheinei Na', then wipe me out from your book!" The way it's translated is "Take me out from your Torah." But here all the Rebbes say the same thing.
"Mecheini" comes from the words "Mei Noach", the waters of Noach. What's the connection to Noach? So everybody knows that Moshe Rabainu had a nitzotz (spark), a little part of Noach in him. So what was the problem with brother Noach? When G-d told Noach he would destroy his generation, Noach didn't pray for his generation. Here comes the tikkun (the spiritual repair); Moshe Rabainu says if you wipe out your people, then wipe me out of your Torah -"Mecheini" - "Mei Noach." Wipe me out because I'm not going to let another mabul (flood) come to this world. I’m not interested in starting a new world like you did with Noach. Moshe Rabainu learned to love the world, Mamash can we learn from Moshe Rabainu how to love.
Good Shabbos
So Moshe loved the people - and put his neck on the line for them.
But I would like to add how this week's portion with next week's - teach 
Moses is commanded to get together all the people
WITH WISE HEARTS - to build the Mishkan.
Leaders must lead - but also delegate responsibly!
And in this Portion the Priestly family is INDUCTED -
but with responsibility, not just privilege - to work for the PEOPLE
And Next  Week's portion The Almighty suggests 2 individual "chacham Lev" people
(wise hearts)
So the Holy One puts in place another layer of technical management-
and Moses and Aron and Joshua do not object!
And the priests and the judges (appointed with Yitro's advice) and
the artists and the wise-hearts who will construct the Desert Temple -
With no complaints from Joshua, or from Moses' family -
that worked in the desert, and upon entry to Israel -
And we can learn from this model for all time -
and maybe remind the world-
of this model of Statesmanship, coordination, and taking responsibility
Shabbat Shalom
תשובהתשובה לכולםהעברה

Portion Teruma - the Pirate Ship and Laser Defenses - and the Desert Temple

Portion Teruma - the Pirate Ship and Laser Defenses - and the Desert Temple
How did Israelites in the Sinai Desert "build back better"
And how did the Israeli Prime Minister this week  release a New Level of Laser Defense, while the Defense Minister keeps running abroad - wanting the Prime Minister job of some future date
And how does Rebbe Nachman's story about the Kaiser's daughter-turned-pirate bring us, peace of Shabbat - and the world to a new level of Spirituality?
Was there a HO HO HO and a BOTTLE OF RUM in the desert?  NO! No rum in the Desert Temple (the Mishkan)
 (drunk Priests could NOT serve the Almighty)
This portion details the DONATIONS needed to build the
Mishkan  in the desert - goatskins and gold,
wood copper and silver - and a few spices
There is a dispute among Torah Sages whether everything in the desert Temple, Solomon's Temple, and Ezra's Temple had to be similar.
Rashi (800 years ago) wrote that the same tables and implements had to be in ALL the future Temples
Ramban (about the same time) disagreed - as not relevant  - but implied maybe Solomon's Temple maybe kept the Style of the Mishkan implements
Ohr Hachaim (200 years ago) mentions that  argument,
But in His wisdom thinks Maybe the SPIRIT has to 
Or maybe the functioning?
But us?  Our Synagogues? Spirit? Function? or Details?
How do we carry on the tradition and PURPOSE of all the 
previous Great Holy Temples of our people?
Maybe our Temple Histories are "captured" - 
In a pirate story by Rebbe Nachman of Breslav
A Princess gets separated from her betrothed Prince - 
and they both end up searching for each other passing through a DESERT
But obviously they are each traveling in the WRONG DIRECTION
(like the Prime Minister and the Defense Minister?)
(Rebbe Nachman says the Princess represents the holy spirit of G-d
and the Prince is the Peoplehood of Israel)
But the beautiful Princess needs to escape all those trying to capture her
and tie her down to prosaic or political life!
So what's a smart girl - a holy princess - got to do?
She Steals a Ship (and brings some talented girls on board)
But they are captured by pirates (sort of like our Holy Temples)
but the spirited girls outwit them all!
And she and 11 girl sailors sail away-
tossing the pirate silver and copper -
With keeping only jewels and the GOLD of the pirates -
And maybe Rebbe Nachman is telling us 
For building the third Beit Hamikdash Temple!
(Oh and if you ASK, I can tell you how the Holy Spirit gets 
the People of Israel to see the Flowers - uh in the Third Temple ...
uh - stay in touch
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Mishpatim -Why Make Laws that No One Follows - Students, Women, Feminism - or a story about JUSTICE

Portion Mishpatim -Why Make Laws that No One Follows   -   Students, Women, Feminism - or a story about JUSTICE
Big Portion with a Lot of Laws this week -
and a little more connection to the Sinai experience
I will try to cover a few things while I write freezing in an unheated room at a relative's home.
I may not get to the other issues - please forgive me if this computer freezes up!
So what you may ask? Why more connections to the Sinai experience? JUSTICE???
Below is a story of ILLEGAL ARREST which this week is reported in Israel ,
after those illegally arrested were awarded in court 5000 shekels (about $1600) each for the 4 hours of being held by police when they were just standing around to protect a young couple in the middle of an Arab riot a few months ago
( in the mixed Jewish-Arab town of Ramla. The Arabs there WANT APARTHEID - as in most Arab villages the ruling party is the Arab Mafia). 
Overall, Itamar was left with a feeling of humiliation. Here he speaks:

“I mainly remember inexplicable physical sensations throughout that evening,” he said. “I guess the events affected me more than I thought.

“Anger was definitely there, mostly because of the humiliation. There was humiliation in a few senses – because of the very act of being apprehended, which included things like the body search, prevention of freedom of movement, the confiscation of personal belongings, and the very unempathic treatment at the hands of the arresting officers – not answering simple questions such as asking for the name of the policeman or why we were being picked up, feeling as if facing an impenetrable wall.


“In retrospect, I can understand that the police were under a great deal of stress, and it makes sense that they avoided talking to us, perhaps they directed their energies to other thoughts about how to manage the situation in general.

“But the fact is that we had come to support the residents, to do something good, and in the end we were the ones arrested.

“At the same time, there was anger regarding the lack of justice there, not for us, but for our fellow Jews, the Jewish residents of Lod and Ramla.”

So the portion sets up a basic set of laws - which have been digested, used, and updated for 3000 years!

I once taught a few college courses to police officers in New York - but I think that the job requires an annual 3 days seminar to upgrade all officers' perceptions of humanity - if possible.
As one friend said yesterday - the milk of human kindness was given to the female of the species - so does that biological fact influence the Torah views of Justice through the last 3000 years?
I doubt if it makes female judges "better" - but I think the perspective should be given a place in most legal cases.
Just a word about students here, before I get out of this freezing room and heat up my coffee and try to finish it -
Joshua was the number one student of Moses the Lawgiver.
Yet the Traditional View is that Moses first taught the justice rules to Aron the High Priest, then the other priestly families,
then to the 70 elders, and then to the whole people of the Israelites.
Where was Joshua? The tradition says he didn't budge from his teacher-master Moshe. Not that he learned everything - but he was the person selected to lead the Israelites for the next 14 years after Moshe/Moses left the world.
The Ethics of the Fathers begins with the statement 
"That Moses first gave over the Torah to Joshua ..."
"So - who gives over the Torah to us?"
I bless us all that we all seek out and learn from great teachers .
Love Health Safety Blessings and - SHABBOS!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz



Portion Yitro (Jethro) - What Really Happened

Portion Yitro (Jethro) - What Really Happened
At Sinai the Torah says:
There was
Burning fire and smoke, and the
Sound of a Shofar
And the Almighty Spoke
And Moshe Rabaynu (Moses) Spoke
And King Solomon described the scene 500 years later,
 in the Song of Songs -
from the view of the Almighty - as it were - sending up a
Super Smoke Signal -
that the world heard about (which is why Yitro-Jethro,
father in law of Moses, came to join the people of Israel!
(and why the Portion is named after him)
And you can be in touch with that feeling of of Jethro - 
and the poetic description of King Solomon - 
(updating for the Israelite Population of 950 BC- before the common era)
Reading the 3rd chapter of  the
It is described in the Talmud of a thousand years ago -
as a love letter between the Almighty and the Jewish People
(just as the Purim Megila is from 2600 years ago -
a love story between the Almighty and Israel!)
The ZOHAR teaches us about the feel of the smoke
and smell of the flowers
and the sound of the Shofar -
and that we are to remember those (as much as the 
words of the 10 Commandments)
So what is the Zohar erally trying to tell us to remember?
And Solomon?
And Rabbi Akiva in the Talmud?
Sinai? or the Love of the Almighty?
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

In Portion BO The Almighty"finished up" the Egyptian Plagues (but not yet Pharoah)

In Portion BO The Almighty"finished up" the Egyptian Plagues (but not yet Pharoah)
And then starts : the Passover Holiday! 
And  PASSOVER  is a FOREVER thing - For Israel - and for the World.
Okay, Passover laws appear in a few parts of the Torah - so who needs it here?
The wise commentators say the Torah should have just begun here - not elsewhere!
So why all the stories about Adam Noah Abraham, etc (the whole first of the 5 BOOKS)?
RASHI explains beautifully - writing in the era when -
The crusaders and the muslims fought over controlling the Land of Israel! So ???
Rashi explains right in the beginning of the Torah - that
The first of the 5 BOOKS is really to TELL THE WORLD to "Loosen Up" 
already from EARLIEST HISTORY!
Get it straight world - The Almighty Created it for US - not for conquerors!
So why, today, does the UN and Anti-Semites try to squeeze us out of OUR LAND?
I saw in the weekly from: "short, practical Lelamed Weekly Dvar
and I will paraphrase his idea that its  writer brings from
Rabbi Henach Leibowitz (Majesty of Man): who suggests (in the portion) that
The Almighty telling Moshe to “please ask them [the Jewish people] to borrow… silver vessels and golden vessels” before leaving Egypt, 
 was meant to instill a sense of self-worth within them, and compensate them for their hundreds of years of slave labor - and slave mentality, 
and (especially) to teach them (former opressed slaves) to speak up for themselves.!
G-d’s request was to begin the Nation of Israel's transformation into a nation that fights for what is right and deserved .
The writer says it can be a lesson for us as well (and) teaches us that it’s right to stand up for ourselves - MAYBE WE NEED TO STRENGTHEN OUR OWN RESOLVE!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Va AyRah : Symbols or Cymbals

 Portion Va AyRah : Symbols or Cymbals
When Moses was "announced"ת coming before Pharoah - was he 
sometimes announced with drums or cymbols? Think about  how things were done 3500 years ago.
Sometimes Moses and Aron had to sneak around the guards - because they were not always welcomed...
But - after all - Moses grew up in the palace. He must have still had "a few connections" to get around ... even though they were not so belooved any more.
Let's face it though - he and Aron walked around with BIG STICKS that could be turned into CROCODILES,
and they turned the Nile into Blood, and released frogs and lice... HUH? WHAT? Of course no one really loved them any more in Egypt!
Yes - the portion tells us here that Moses and Aron introduce 7 of the 10 plagues on Egypt.
Was there any fanfare, drums or cymbols as each plague was introduce? Not likey.
OR WAS THE ALMIGHTY SENDING SYMBOLS that some of the Egyptians finally "got"?
But what are all the plagues if not symbols? (See also the Marcus Lehman Hagadda.)
To us or to THEM?
What fanfare do WE give these portions - do most Jews even cursorily read them? Even at the Passover Seder?
Take for instance in the Zohar. (TO KEEP IT SHORT )
the whole thing with the Sticks into Crocodiles by Aron's staff.
It says in the portion that Pharoah's advisors could also 
do the "stick to crocodile thing."
And then it says that  - well, let me ask you:
Why did Aharon's staff have to swallow the magicians' crocodiles?
It's not a story - it's a symbol!
It wasn't Aron's CROCODILE that ate the the "advisors' Crocodiles".
The ZOHAR says it was a DOUBLE miracle - and DOUBLE SYMBOL
Even Aron's DRY stick (his staff turned back to a stick
after Moses' demonstration) -
 ate the crocodiles/snakes/what-have-you - that 
the Advisors to Evil (Pharoah) produced.
A warning to Egypt? Okay - for that time.
The symbol of ISRAEL Overcoming EVIL? For Every Generation!
May we overcome the snakes of antiSemitism
and the Crocodiles of a Corrupt UN and world leaders,
And Bless the World with our
SYMBOLISM that what they think of as an OLD DRY STICK (us)
is really going to revive true freedom from the Pharoahs of the world
and sprout (like later on IN THE TORAH) and 
bring forth Almond BLOSSOMS - in the desert 
And in Israel Today
Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz