Parashat Hashavua

Portion ShehMote - Who did Moses Smote? (uhhh - smite?)

Portion ShehMote - Who did Moses Smote? (uhhh - smite?)
What ties us together? Us and Moshe?
And what ties us to the Temple he Built -
and the ones he Didn't? (In Shiloh, and in Jerusalem?)
In Shiloh you can see where the giant tabernacle stood for 369 years) -
(Right Art and Don?)
The impression dug up by archaeologists is the exact measurement as in the Torah!
And the Temple mount - over 3000 years holy to our people - even called "holy" in Arabic-
because almost every holy place for Jews has had the name of the place preserved by even the Arab conquerors (who came around the year 650 and defeated the earlier conquerors).
How can the world see obvious facts and make up lies about Israel Israelites and Judaism?
So - in this week's "Rabbi Ashkenazi class" on the Tanya Chapter 4,
he  stated the historical facts of why Moses wasn chosen to lead our people - ( NOT RELATED to why Abraham was Chosen before Moshe)
As appear in our portion:
It was the act of saving the Jewish slave from being beaten by the Egyptian
And trying to break up a fight between 2 Israelites.
Even if we are not all leaders we need to learn the lessons-
and then teach basic morality to the world.
Is that why there is so much anti-Semitism - because the world has a dearth of morality - or doesn't teach morality? (Or is it simple jealousy - like the stories of Joseph, or greed like the stories of Laban? Oh - those were from portions in the previous weeks...) to remember ... )
Why is there so much abuse in the world? Moses could not walk around and see beatings and fights whenever he left his "ivory tower" - the palace
And yet there are so many abusive societies and so many drug cartels, etc..
Do we have too many politicians? Not enough moral leaders?
Do we have to go back 3000 years to search for SIMPLE moral truths?
I guess the Almighty wants us ALL to read the Torah every week to remind us to remind the world about basic morality.
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion VaYeChee - How to Give Blessings

Portion VaYeChee - How to Give Blessings
Rabbi Carlebach taught his listeners how to give blessings - and said that is the only thing that "works" in this world.
So this week we read the Portion of the week of Jacob giving Blessings for all his family and for eternity (all time) and for ALL THE WORLD -
SOOO let me start
by blessing all my family and friends and students and congregants,
all the people of Israel and of all the world - to be healthy and happy and to ADD TO THE GOODNESS OF THE WORLD.
But are Blessings just a bunch of words - or hard work - or patience - or sometimes a struggle?
As a connection to Jabob's Blessings :This week we can learn so much about the Almighty and the Torah by hearing stories from the Yahrzeit's (this week)  of great Hassidic Masters of the past , like
Rabbi Natan of Breslav, who wrote down the notes and published the work and teachings of Rebbe Nachman ( and you can see some of these as explained by Rabbi Yaskil, peppered throughout my book
"Seeking Reb Shlomo"). 
He wrote in the introduction to the Second printing of Likutay Mohara"N (Rebbe Nachman's Magnum Opus):
"The first printing had errors - even blank spaces which confuse the reader - and some of the typeset is corrupted- so I had to make the corrections ..."
What's the big deal? He was the editor, so of course he would make the corrections!? But at the time, 
He was writing his own works, 
yet he felt obligated NOT to give Rebbe Nachman's book to someone else to correct - but to guarantee it himself.
In this Portion, Jacob, Joseph, and the children - all accept the tasks -
Of making the Israelite Nation a spiritual light to the world FOREVER.
Joseph - who ran the country of Egypt, he had time? And
The other brothers who worked together to protect and build "ISRAEL" -
they were all "busy" - but they worked together to fulfill the
challenge of the task and blessing of Israel/Jacob.
And it was  also the Yahrzeit of Mordechai Yosef of Ishbitz (Ishbitzer)
And here's a litle anecdote about him:
A Former student of his, beset by misfortune, went to his NEW Rebbe,
who said "go back to the Rebbe Mordechai Yosef", which he did
After Explaining all his Misfortunes, that Ishbitzer Rebbe (a believer in TRUTH -
only truth and nothing but ...) asked
"If I give you a blessing to get over all the financial woes, will you come back to be a follower at my Hassidic Court?"
But the Hassid said he wouldn't come back, and wouldn't falsify anything.
BUT THE ISHBITZER REBBE blessed him anyway - 
and the man again succeeded in many ways greater than before.
Did he get the blessing despite his refusal to return -or because of it?
Because of his truthfulness - or because the Rebbe valued his honesty?
And it was just the Yahrzeit of the Sanz-Klausenberger Rebbe
(read about him in Chapter 16 in my book..."Seeking Reb Shlomo").
Somehow he kept with him a tiny set of Tefilin even in Aushwitz ... 
until some SS guards found them ...., 
For which he was soundly Beaten...
Though he always kept a cheery countenance, the others in his bunk saw him cry, and talk as if to the Almighty saying
"I accept whatever you have sent me, 
but I cannot  accept that I am prevented from performing your Commandments"
The next day an SS officer came to that bunk, and asked "are these yours"?
"Yes" said the Rebbe, not sure if he would be in for another beating, but totally truthful.
The officer gave them back to him! And then
He said "just dont let anyone else use them"!
(To all those Corrections Officers out there - did you 
 ever  do a search and find contraband? What did you do or have to do?
See in my work - in -  progress,  probably to be titled 
"Thank You Sol Wachtler")
Power of: Dedication
Connection with the Almighty
All these were our blessings from our forefather Jacob -
in his BLESSINGS to ALL his children-
To help us ALL through our people's long and lonely exiles, and 
As we see from some of our great spiritual masters, that it
Doesnt matter what they did or didn't do - for us - we can only bless each other - and work to try to connect to holiness and truth of the Almighty
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Vayee Gash - the last stop before 250 tough years

Portion Vayee Gash  -  the last stop before 250 tough years  
The basic idea here was voiced some years ago by Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neriya (zatza"l) - but I have to ask a question regarding the significance of Jacob's prophecy
As the song goes:
Sometimes you're up
Sometimes you're down!
And So Too the Kabbala teaches us not to get Hung Up over
where we might "be" in our lives - but to
to improve our lives and the world in general
From this week's portion I ask:
Why did The Almighty appear to Jacob in Be er Sheva
(At The Northern Tip of the Negev Desert) before going to Egypt?
(Reminding him that the going was getting tough,
but that the Almighty would always be with his descendents,
and they would return to the Land of Israel, Land of their forbears).
Why not just as he reunited with Joseph, who could use the prophecy?
Or when the brothers returned from Egypt with the first news of Joseph?
And why did prime Minister Bennet not go INTO Arab towns on his Chanuka tour of the Negev last week?
And I ask - did the 11 brothers also see or hear the prophecy?
 (or the 10 who were there - 
since probably one was with Joseph down in Egypt...)
Why not in Hebron? (Actually we are not SURE where the family was living at the start of the fateful trip down to Egypt that ended in slavery)
So I believe the Lesson in the Portion from the Prophecy could only 
be understood by Jacob - who loved ALL his family - 
despite the troubles he had gone through
The brothers were NOT at that level, as we see even years later,
as when Jacob left the world, the brothers were afraid that
Maybe Joseph would Take Revenge.
Even after freedom from slavery and entering Israel, there was a lot of rivalry and in-fighting between tribes - and
only RARELY  were leaders like KING DAVID able to UNITE them all.
Prime Minister Bennet has to figure out how to deal with Iran and Arabs (like the Beduins in the Negev),
so it seems that he may have lost track of 
Not that he asks me what to do - but
King David was a MASTER at dealing with the foes of Israel -
and UNITING all the Israelites made his whole career WORK better.
Maybe we should all help in this task this Shabbat - Uniting us ALL?
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Me Kates: The End

Portion Me Kates:  The End

End of What?
End of the line at the pharmacy like today? But why fume about it ?
ITS FUNNY - but there is always someone that gets on line behind you ...!

So while waiting at the pharmacy this morning while the pharmacist went somewhere
I was trading Talmud thoughts with the guy behind me

And another guy – with a big red clown's nose comes behind us
and recognizes the page we are talking about – and quotes the 2 lines following

How Elijah the Prophet pointed out to some Rabbis that a certain 2 people in the market
were guaranteed a very High Honor in Heaven!

And why was that? Because they were jokesters and made people laugh!

And this guy reminds us how THIS SHABBAT CHANUKAH is the COMPLETION
Of the High Holidays – and special "in the eyes of the Almighty"
For getting Holy Prayers answered (forget about that Mercedes)

So what's the connection between Chanuka and comedians and Joseph in the Portion? 
So Joseph is in prison waiting for –something? Anything? - to happen
And it's 2 YEARS since he asked the Chief Butler to remember his skills to Pharoah

But at a PARTY (there must have been CLOWNS – like in the Broadway song)
The Butler remembers, and they call in Joseph to interpret Pharoahs dreams, and

In a minute Joseph is free
And in a minute he is Viceroy – assistant to king Pharoah!

And later when he blesses his kid brother Benjamin – he uses the word Chanukah

It is called an "unclear prophecy" -
 that Chanukah will be the re-dedication of the Holy Temple
Which was located in Israel in the Portion (of Israel's land) of Benjamin

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenhz


Portion VaYayShev: Joseph and the brother (on the bus) or the hidden angel?

Portion VaYayShev:  Joseph and the brother (on the bus) or the hidden angel?
Basically, Joseph gets lost and someone unknown - maybe the angel Gabriel - directs him
JOSEPH Then  ends up in Egypt and in trouble - and
he never again sees his homeland


No - he was taken as a slave -
so why is there so much anti-semitism?
is it pushed by
control-freakiness - or jealousy - or greed? (read - hatred and politics?)
Why do some fools fan the flame of hatred - AND NEVER SEE THEM SELVES ?
(I should maybe ask bob dylan to add that to his 
"how many times must a ....look up?" song...)
Modern Day Jews DO need a - what? A transit card? OIY! (Transit to Israel maybe?)
WHO NEEDS A METROCARD  (in Israel it's called a RAV-KAV -means "for all public transit lines")
In Israel the inspectors some times throw people off the bus and give out fines for cheats ...
SO - I am on a bus at night in Jerusalem - and A twenty-something guy is asking people to take his cash and dip for his fare
because his card ran out of pre-pay
AND NOBODY HELPS  (not mean - just students and seniors cannot swipe for adults because we get discounts)
so I offered him MY SPARE REGULAR CARD (always good to have one)
and we begin talking about Maimonides and about the Kabala (guy turns out to be a Canadian student)

Through the ages our Master Rabbis taught that Angels are Messengers

-But when Jacob sends Joseph     and he gets lost    was it an
Angel (in disguise) or just a holy brother out to help ?
In Kabala-

Zohar says – joseph always acted like a brother - even when the siblings were not

Zohar says - what kept Joseph the Slave on the right path to - YES
was not his  dreams 
(who taught him how to be a Holy Brother to others -
even when his brothers were truly not nice to him (see next 2 portions)

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion VaYishLach: Asahel, Angels, and the Lie of the Prophet Elisha

Portion VaYishLach:  Asahel, Angels, and the Lie of the Prophet Elisha

In this portion Jacob (a MAJOR Prophet) returns from Syria with the family (like many, his kids were "angels", okay maybe not ALL the Time)

Hearing (from scouts – remember this is the dangerous Middle East) that his brother Esau is "on the warpath" – Jacob sends G-dly Angels to his brother. With what message?

Through the ages our Master Rabbis taught that Angels are Messengers

Do you remember Jacob's dream last week about the Angels on the Ladder? This week's ZOHAR section continues its related discussion about :

"The Shechina" – presence of the Almighty – versus the "Holy Manifestation of Angels"

Keeping things somewhat brief – I ask: where do the Prophets fit in here? Are Prophets manifesting "Shechina" or are they Messengers like Angels – or just "Holy People"?

Last week I came across how the "Story of Syria" was interfering with the "Story of Israel". Elisha the "Regional Prophet" shows up in Damascus. The King (no friend of Israelites) sends gifts in order to bribe Elisha (for sake of argument I say) for a healing blessing. The gifts are brought by Asahel, the Chief Minister, and Elisha says "Tell the King he will Live!"

BUT then he cried! Asahel asked him "why"? And Elisha says "He will die, and you will reign", and sadly, you will not be good to my Israelites." So Asahel kills the king, and becomes king!

 What level of holiness was Elisha speaking from (telling a lie)? ZOHAR says "outside of Israel" even prophets cannot expect to be at the highest level – despite their holy messages.

What Message was Jacob sending to Esau? Jacob had the power of Shechina and sent peace   messages to his warring brother, a power precisely because he was returning to Israel!

What messages are WE sending out?

We always need to check and see if we are sending out good vibes/messages.

Lesson of the portion? We need angels, and to be angels, for one another, to ease The pain of Israel's exile, AntiSemitism ... can only be eased when we are angels to one another,

And facing towards Israel.


Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion VaYeytzey: was Jacob a refugee:

Portion VaYeytzey: was Jacob a refugee:
Read Zohar - and the Laban War
Do you remember any wars?
Most Israelis have lived through a few.
My father in law - of blessed memory - today is his first Yahrzeit - fought in a few
But his attitude was always POSITIVE
But No , most Palestinians dont remember the 6 Day War (1967, 54 years ago)- 
Or starving under Jordanian conquest...
certainly do not the Israeli Independance war of 1948 and capture by Jordan
So the Torah says 
Laban and His Gang chased after Jacob and family who 
Were just going home to
The Other Grandparents
Why His Gang? The Zohar explains,
To Make War with Israel/Jacob
Would the UN have given Jacob
Refugee assistance like 
It does to Arabs who claim to be refugees?
Or to my father in law and
800000 other Jews
Who fled from Arab lands in 1948?
Now, it is  80 years later ,
And this week the US decided to keep paying UNRWA to make believe that
 3rd generation Arabs in Israel are refugees
 It is not just stupid and stealing from   taxpayers
But also promoting terrorism and
Making War instead of HEALING RIFTS
Israelites like Jacob later -were fleeing drought to Egypt - and then enslaved there
Would the US have given  aid to Israelites? Actually we were enslaved for 210 years
But we came out with G-ds help,
And brought others with us - the eruv rav
And today
No other people solvd the "covid mysteries" like israeli researchers - 
To heal the world
We need an Anti Hatred Vaccine today
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Toledot :Then Who Was That Hairy Guy?

Portion Toledot :Then Who Was That Hairy Guy?
So why did Rebecca play this Practical Joke on Isaac her husband - who was blind,
sending Jacob disguised as Esau - to bring Isaac's Dinner - and hang out -
 So that The blessings from Isaac went to Jacob and not Esau?
(was it simply for the best chance of the Israelite Nation's survival?)
If you read the text you don't enjoy the DRAMA until you read ZOHAR.
The Zohar explained the kanguage "me zeh ayfoh" of Isaac, that he said when Esau comes and asks for the Blessings of the Firstborn
(even though he and Jacob were twins - AE note - if they were friends,
like maybe in the END OF TIMES - they could have shared?) AS
"How did I get Tricked? was it a G-dly Angel - or the "Angel of Death"?
A lot of stories in the Torah have many layers of meaning.
(in this story Yakov is punished with temporary exile for abusing his relationship with his father (even though his mother designed the game)
because parents don't always agree
Hashem blessed JACOB WHEN HE LEFT Laban and returned to israel
Today in the Kolel in the Jerusalem Great Synagogue
Rav Hirshler explained the end of the portion
In a couple of weeks we see Jacob did his own version of their plans
And came back to Israel with 12 sons and a daughter -
bought some land -
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Chayei Sara - Answer to Woke, SILLY!

 Portion Chayei Sara - Answer to Woke, SILLY!
In the Portion this week are stories - and DEEP MEANING from them.
Sara dies, and Abraham buys (more land in Israel)
And Isaac needs a Good Woman-
Because Abraham is not impressed by the locals-
so he sends his right-hand trusted Manager -to
find a SOUL PARTNER for Isaac (his half brother Ishmael already 
had a few wives by this time).
I don't want to ignore the MANY MANY learnings from each part of the portion
But it's time this week to focus on the ZOHAR
the spiritual underpinnings of "Everything Torah".
No it's not outdated at all - ancient maybe, down to earth maybe, in a 
way that sometimes hits you in a modernism-aint-everything way.
So just one point this week, about:
Souls - do we have one? The Zohar says YES
In a homiletical way, the Zohar (on a later portion) says,
And he showed all SOULS to Adam - and they even
They even Looked Like ANGELS!
And Adam reviewed their future histories - to all their end of days
Then they all looked to  G-d (for their "marching orders"!
So like ANGELS they/we were ALL Given a Task before 
being sent down here - to START OFF EQUAL -
and the Angels teach them/us Torah,
then "Kiss each soul" to forget most of it - 
And THEN the Angels send us off to this world -
not to make money -
and we all start to look and think differently ...
So the portion gives us lessons in BELIEF, in ACTION,
in HONESTY (not like the liar Laban), in humility,
Abraham gives gifts and blessings - and then the SAGA continues
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion VayayRa : The Angels are Back

 Portion VayayRa : The Angels are Back
When did you ever meet an angel? 
Angels are a theme in this portion and in some others.
In the daily prayers we say
"L-rd: the Angels praise you"
And this Shabbat Portion starts with Abraham running to feed a few Angels disguised as Arabs!
So what do we learn about here - about Our forefather Abraham?
Or his kindness -Chesed - to three weary drop ins?
Hey -Thats the J.jewish way of life -
but Moslems practice that Abrahamic Mitzva of inviting guests too!
Maybe We are supposed to learn
How to be angels and help Angels do their work!
So last night I am getting off the bus at 10 PM
and at the rear door,
there is a lady with lots of shopping bags - and a kid sleeping on the sidewalk
(Foolishly?) I ask if she needs help.
I said "How are you going to carry the kid and all those bags?"
She answered, "He fell asleep on the bus and i don't know what to do.
I live across the street"
So I scooped up the bags (my knapsack wasn't too heavy), 
she scooped up the kid, and I followed her across the street.
"Uh oh," she said, "Those three Arabs coming up the street frighten me. Let's go this way"
and she started off tp the right.
I'm thinking, "Maybe they are really 3 angels?" - but I don't know where we are going.
I followed her around the 2 buildings - for about 4 blocks -
 until we came to just below where the bus stop was!.
I put the bags in front of her door and said good night.
Walking back up the hill I saw the three young Arabs, and said "Hello" - and
they answered "Good Night".
So who were those three? Arabs or Angels? 
(I mean in the portion! So read the portion and find out!).
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz