Parashat Hashavua

Portions Vayakhel Pekuday ...and a New Month to All

Portions Vayakhel Pekuday ...and a New Month to All
This Double Portion is perfect for architects and accountants ... 
(Because Moshe gave an exact accounting of ALL the donations to the Temple in the Desert AND
then he and his helpers AND ALL THE ISRAELITES set it up - 
quite a feat - if you look at the details in the portion!
But we mortals may get more satisfaction by looking at the spiritual side of - yes its coming in two weeks - Passover!
Practically speaking, crumbs are Chametz. SO
Why get rid of ALL crumbs?
Believe it or not, the Talmud says demons hide in crumbs. WHAT?
According to my teachers, the Talmud talking about demons in crumbs means germs and disease in rotting food... 
from a time period with little knowledge of sanitary issues.
Sorry here. You need to get rid of the crumbs, BUT
No, dirt is not Chamets! 
And we dont "sell the dirt" - only the bread-cookies-pasta stuff.
But the BIG question that stares us in the face (from the MAFTIR -
the last and SPECIAL Aliya this week -
What did our ancestors do that fateful night waiting anxiously for "the signal" from Moses,
"Yes!  We're Leaving Egypt"!
Were they sweeping out the crumbs? Vacuuming?
Eating the Passover BbQ?
Or telling over stories way back from the time of Abraham?
So I heard from Rav Levinger (the evening-before- maariv-class teacher here) that his Rebbes ordered:
That there are 3 stories we are ALL supposed to repeat this Shabbat before the New Moon (month) which comes on Sunday.
But I will not push my luck -
And will relate only  one each week,
for everyone to tell over one story each of the next 3 Shabbatote.
But first - Some Passover Rules
New clothes -for the Emperor? No - for EVERYONE for PASSOVER!
Yes new clothes before and FOR Passover
Special charity - give to those needy - especially now there are so many 
AND Clean out crumbs, but 
you can SELL - save - the booze in a separate place...
But the STORY-
About 200 years ago - and maybe 200 years before that-
 the booze runners had lots of ways to escape the "revenooers"
 (the tax collectors)
But they were always afraid - and
Sometimes got caught!
So this Jewish liquor runner stored his stuff 
(before Passover, to sell to the local Jews) - and
the Authorities found out
so he ran to the Rebbe - Rebbe Elimelech of Lizensk
What are you afraid of? askeed the Rebbe
The "merchant" answered
"But but they know I stored the wine in the shul/synagogue cellar!
And they are coming!"
"Dont be afraid ," said the Rebbe.
"ut but but," said the booze runner!
Only be afraid of ONE said the Rebbe
Huh? But then he got it - the ONE AND ONLY Almighty
The police Came to the Lizensker (Elimelech) Rebbe and said
We heard of the illegal wine you are storing!
Go taste it, said Reb Elimelech.
And they did - but it tasted like Just Fresh Water!
And there was a Great Passover Festival that year in Lizensk
Because the water turned back to wine!
How ?
.Faith in G-d
Maybe only a little faith in the holy Rebbe  Elimelech
(And maybe because the wine smuggler was so thankful,
he was giving kosher wine discounts for pesach?
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Key TeaSah - When and How to Threaten - G-d? Yes - it's in the Portion!

Portion Key TeaSah - When and How to Threaten - G-d?
Yes - it's in the Portion!
But first -
Years ago on my first trip to Israel, I was privileged to visit a college buddy who took me one time to
Pray the afternoon prayer at his neighbor's house.
I didnt know how privileged I was until a few years later - when in yeshiva -
I realized the neighbor was Rabbi S.Y. Zevin
Editor of the encyclopedia talmudica!
He was also the Author of the book "SipooRay Hassidim" which has a story based on this week's Portion (I repeat it in short).
One time the holy BAl Shem Tov went for Shabbat to a little village -
but he wouldn't let the townfolk EAT their shabbat meal!
Until they all said Psalms until midnight - and then he let them go-
More or less the next morning the local gentile town drunk came by and asked for a drink - 
after which he blabbed -
The local LORD didn't let us eat or drink all night
He was just giving all the villagers guns and swords,
saying in the morning we would attack the Jews!
I myself, said the drunk, argued you are all nice people -
and always give me a drink when I ask!
But the lord there didn't listen until an old friend of his rode by
just before dawn -  and told him the same thing -
So he told us Told us to Go Home.
The Bal Shem Tove told his students, that
 the friend who rode by had passed on 4 years BEFORE -
BUT THE LOCAL LORD didn't know - and so I had everyone pray hard - and
the Almighty sent the old friend back as a messenger.
The Bal Shem Tov said he was a little "testing" the Almighty,
being there with the people who might have been wiped out!
Like Moses after the Golden Calf told G-d -
if you want to destroy the Israelites - take ME TOO!
And Moses sort of calmed down things - and the Almighty wants us all to
BE TOGETHER (and pray together)
So maybe don't "test" G-d too much - and
NEVER threaten the Almighty -
and just lets pray a little - for each other and prepare for 
the Almighty's holy Passover!
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion TeTzaVeh and Purim Joy

Portion TeTzaVeh and Purim Joy
This is One Odd Portion for modern people to relate to - so I'll start with something FUN - Purim!
Here Are Two items quoted by the famous Rabbi Sholom mayer Valach
HE QUOTES the Saba of Kelm :
You know, Haman was constantly nudging the king to kill the Jews, 
So the king ordered all his ministers for advice, and They all agreed and said :
Dont you know what happened to Pharoah? 
But Haman told the King who "the G d of the Jjews is old ....who is afraid of ...
So see what happened to him and his sons ...
The Second story is from Talmud Taanis
There was a 
Bad Drought ...  with people dying of thirst.
The law is - you have to declare fast days and prayers.
Chief Rabbi Eliezer ordered prayers and fast days but no rain came.
Rabbi Akiva asked to lead the prayers... and said 
Avinu Mal Kaiynu like Yom Kippur "ayn Lanu melech"
Almighty is our King,
And it rained!!
Not because Akiva was better-
Just got everyone to pray straight from the heart!
So the portion Tetzaveh about the Priesthood 
But their role we learn in line with the previous ideas
The End (of the portion) says Only Burn Incense on the
Incense Alter - 
But once a year sprinkle the blood of yom kipur sacrifices -For "atonement of Priests and Everyone
You need to relate to life and
The kohanim priests were needed tio light the incense-
But also to be aware 
That some people out there are dying-
And dont get too carried away with yourself like wicked Haman
And Pray that we  have blessed rains-
And blessed awareness-
And end to sufferings !!!
Purim Joy to the World and
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Terumah - By the Dawn's Early Light

The portion is about building the Tabernacle in the Sinai Desert

What's that go to do with pouring rain – and some snow in Jerusalem Wednesday night?

And why is the Almighty showing how to train a philanthropic soul the way to fix the world?

According to the Kabala view, each of us is on this planet to contribute something special.

The portion starts out with EVERYONE of the Israelites contributing something in the desert.

EVERYONE! Some gave gold some gave silver, some wove threads for the curtains.

So – knowing human nature – we need to ask - but were there some character  just giving advice ?

Actually - almost yes! The Almighty? Wasn't he the planner and just telling Moshe what had to be done?

But the Medrash tells us, that when Moses did not know how to make something – the Almighty  did it forUS-FORhim-FORtheWORLD.

Yes when it came to creating a lamp of pure gold, the great teacher Moshe couldn't figure out how to make it of "ONE BEATEN PIECE OF GOLD" so

G-d speaking "Throw it into the fire and it will come out as I told you," –

And the Almighty Himself created that beautiful Temple Menorah –

The symbol of light and wisdom and holiness FOR THE WORLD –

Which over a thousand years later, the Roman Legions carved onto the

Arch of Titus (the wicked destroyer) as if to say "we have defeated

light and wisdom and holiness FOR THE WORLD" – BUT HAVE THEY? COULD THEY?

NO! And every time our "giving nurturing volunteering" soul does ITS PART –

We fulfill the message of that menorah –

Bringing light and wisdom and holiness FOR THE WORLD.

Whether it is bringing soul to the desert, Torah to the corrupt Canaanites, creating

"The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave" (drop the revisionist detracting please)

Bringing water and healing to Africa, or volunteering for people with disabilities …

Neither snow nor rain nor … nuclear threats can stop the Israelite Vision of

The Menorah of the Almighty – from shining into the world.


Read the Portion to see how much work goes into that!


Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz -  from snow and slush covered Jerusalem!  


Portion Mishpatim - the Girl and the Baby Carriage?

Portion Mishpatim - the Girl and the Baby Carriage?

So here we are still with Challenges and Problems with Israeli Semi Lockdown - so what does the Torah portion say?
Let's Just take the busses in Israel:

Yesterday I thanked one driver that yelled at a couple of people who did not put their masks over their mouth and nose, which is required - But was I right?

I did not say a word about the obese person with the shopping cart who did not swipe her ravKav (like the NY metroCards),
But was I right? Was I doing what is right in the eyes of the Almighty?

So here, I wish to focus on 3 sentences/ideas in the portion

Enemy (donkeys)
Dogs and Holiness
Shouting at G-d
(Which appear in reverse order in the fifth aliya of this week's portion)

But first hear this: yesterday in Bnei Brak (similar to Boro Park) I see a maybe 20 or 21 year old girl with 2 kids - 
one in a baby carriage and the other a toddler under 2 -
and when I heard a mother scream - I stopped the toddler from running into the street...

But did I break "the code" about not seeing females?
Okay, so I helped them get into the crowded bus when no one else lent a hand -
But what about the "code of the "ultra" separation of males from females?

Maybe those people in Bnei Brak didnt read this weeks portion yet,
But it's written "even your enemy 's donkey you have to help!"

But crowded uncaring busses in RED zones during the Pandemic?
The portion points out here that we even reward dogs for not barking when we left Egypt ... 
So ...Young kids having lots of kids - okay - an issue in itself -but young husbands not helping the Wife and kids go where- maybe to grandma 's?
Maybe even do a mitzvah for the reward?

Okay, maybe the father didn't know, and the people standing around were doing or planning other mitzvas...

But it also says the Almighty will not ignore the shouting of those abused ... -
is it because no one else really is listening? Or is it hard with all the noises from the street...?

In Israel there are so many hurt lately - why are all the politicians Doing their Regular Politicians Things?

Maybe they really ARE all thinking of the general good - BUT WE SHOULD ALL HAVE STRENGTH TO

AND maybe the politicians - and we - should all read the Torah too 
And try to live by all the Good and Great ideas in this week's portion

Shabbat Shalom and Blessings from Jerusalem

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Yitro: Honor and love for the great men wise souls and fighters for goodness

Portion Yitro: Honor and love for the great men wise souls and fighters for goodness
I am taking this opportunity to connect Jewish Soul
With WorldWide soul (not web)
Yitro the Gentile deserves Honor and Glory -
He teaches Moses about administrring justice to a whole people!
(Okay he joins with the Jews too ...etc
Okay he is the father of Ziporah married to Moshe - etc
But was he an African as rhe torah says about Ziporah his daughter???)
And so the Almighty honors him with naming a portion in the Holy Torah - and what a portion!
None less than the portion of
If only the world would follow more of his wisdom....
So this week was a bit hard ... the world loosing So Many People... And
I want to connect two great souls to Yitro and to Justice
One Jewish and one Gentile
To Honor and express love for: arthur the great man wise soul and fighter for goodness
(And see below)

If anyone doesn't remember  how for years
he stood up in court for simple justice for the Carlebach family and synagogue and community
And He defended that community from greed, and from "justices" (often Jewish) with no wisdom, who were ready to evict both family and synagogue
Until an African American judge called "set em loose Bruce"- 
said to the Goldman Group
"The Nerve of you trying to dislocate a whole community"!
Know all that I witnessed Arthur the great defender
bring a bit of sanity to the New York courts,
As the judge told the wealthy building owners
"Get out of my Court".
Arthur and Bruce will forever be remembered 
before the Creator - as  heroes from NY.
May Portion Yitro be a blessing for justice forever
Shabbat Shalom ... Health and Courage to All
Andy Eichenholz, Rabbi 

Portion Beshalach - Holy Trees Holy Water Holy Women

Portion Beshalach - Holy Trees Holy Water Holy Women
TOday Thursday is Tu Bishvat ... the Jewish New Year of the Trees
Yesterday behind my house the local kids planted 31 trees in our "park" - all the community could get in the local town budget
The trees symbolize renewal when the cycle of life seems coldest, when the least sun is shining
The Tree new Year symbolized the date of giving Holy Fruit Tithes to the Levites working for All Israel... in the Holy Temple and elsewhere. And the Almighty called for a celebration of the Fruits and Land of Israel.
A wonferful Dutch convert lady married to a Moroccan Israeli who studied archaelogy from the same wonderful American professor as me (the professor also later converted)  initiated our "park" ... bless you Iris!
Continuing a theme from last week
Animals ... Why were Pharoah's and others' animals targeted in the ten Plagues ... And at the Dead sea?
These were the war-horses - and the Animals drowned with the cavalry.
Didn't those Israelite slaves feed and wash and walk the horses? Did they all forget tose kindnesses?
Holiness begets rewards and war mongers ... well
Participating in war begets punishment. 
So ... didn't the holocaust (Rememberance Day was this week) happen because the world-especially the British Prime Minister- appeased Hitler?
Last week we saw that the Egyptians who trusted Moses protected their animals!
This week we have so many themes in the portion... and while
That of
Reward and punishnent is not always clear
... true Holiness will always shine...
Miriam ...How did she get all the women to dance at the Red Sea?
Her holiness shined ...they all knew her and
Trusted her - 
the faithful and fearless
Midwife who saved their babies
A Levite Leader of her family - who also saved Baby Moses ...
So at the Red Sea the men Sang and the women
Danced ...  
and the Torah says right after:
They brought down the Shabbos
To The World
Shabat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Bo - the Animals?

Portion Bo - the Animals?

Most commentators on this portion focus on Moses and his(verbal) wrestling with Pharoah-
(Recall Jacob wrestling with the angel?)

I am wrestling with how this portion gets us out of Egypt THEN-
And NOW!

Egypt in Hebrew means "restrictions"

And there are - all over -Lots of restrictions now because of coronavirus...

At the end of this week's portion we are induced to re-play "going out of Egypt " FOR OUR CHILDREN

Actually - Moses' argument in the BEGINNING of this portion is ALSO about
taking the CHILDREN out of Egypt to worship the L-rd.

Hey - he also argues for taking out the ANIMALS of the ISRAELITES! (sheep goats and cows...)

Let's focus on how the portion starts with ANIMALS and ends with ANIMALS
and starts with CHILDREN and ends with CHILDREN!

Everyone knows how Pharoah messed up BIGTIME - but nobody answers WHY!

In a nutshell (because it's also Shabbat soon) - the Almighty is signalling to Egypt:

You started this thing by ENSLAVING THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL (Jacob's family)

and by drowning the little ones - and worse - to the ones you could catch.

THE FROGS AND LICE AND WILD BEASTS were sent as a warning - but you didn't listen

EGYPT: listen NOW - MY children will FOREVER tell the story of your WANTON EGO (and EVIL)

and the creatures? - every dog and donkey will be remembered with a MITZVA;

for the parts even they played - as well as every sheep goat and cow

(not just the lions and the elephants)

And Egypt - you will be immortalized by CRUMBLING PYRAMIDS AND CRUMBLING MUMMIES!

While the children of Israel will usually be touted by the world at the Nobel Prize Awards
(Even Bob Dylan was awarded ...)

Shabat shalom -Health and Joy

Rabbi Andy Eichenholz


Portion Va Aiy Rah – Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Frog?

Portion Va Aiy Rah – Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Frog?

Heard it all before – right? Before last Passover? Really, now!

Like my daughter said to me, "How many times do I have to listen to rabbis on the radio talking about– the story of Israelites in Egypt?"

But Like Rabbi Fanger said on the radio Monday – imagine Pharoah's wife, seeing Moses and the snakes of the sorcerers – AAAHHHH! OIY! And then Moses' snake turns back into a stick – and EATS the other snakes! Ugh uch yech!

So she yells  "Let the Israelites GO already!"  Okay – sweet and cute. Imagination helps.

In Hebrew school – and in Israel – before Passover - kids sing about Pharoah in Pyjamas and about the Red Sea splitting like in the 10 Commandments movie.

In this morning (Friday)'s Talmud class we read "Rabbah Bar Bar Chana saw a giant frog, and then a flying snake ate him…"  
Was that about Israelites in Egypt – or about Marc Antony Ceaser and Cleopatra – OR
A prophecy about Al Kaida and Osama Bin Laden and Iran – and Obama and Biden?
This portion raises questions - did anyone miss Moses 40 years while he was raising his family in Midian? How fearful of the Egyptians were the Israelites? 
How is a 3000 year old story relevant to today's issue

Rabbi Kram (may he and all not well people get well soon) says "Egypt and Israel" is a story that proves there is something Beyond the Natural that is watching over Israel – and the whole world.

When I was a kid I knew most of the names of the countries of the UN – our "world".

Then Africa became 20 or so countries, and - then Russia – the USSR - split into a million pieces – and we learned they ALL had seats in the UN. And there were China and Taiwan. And North and South Korea. Rhodesia? The names sometimes change. Who cared about nukes in Iran?

And terror organizations? How many people can name 3 or 4?

And in Israel the Beduins served in the Israeli Army (IDF) then. But this week Beduin kids sprayed graffiti and overturned tombstones in a Jewish  Cemetery near Beer Sheva – where Abraham and Isaac lived!

I really wanted to write this week about fear – and the statements of Rav Kook in the 20's and of Roosevelt in the 40's. The Egypt saga last week had Israelites complaining to Moses and him complaining to the Almighty. Was that about not knowing things TAKE TIME?

Rabbi Kram says "Egypt and Israel" is a timeless  story that proves there is something beyond the Natural that is watching over Israel

I think Israel in Egypt is about all the pangs  of Nation Birth – where unfortunately all the world says it's about Power and Money. The Almighty has other plans for the world.

Kindergarten kids know about Big Bird. But "out there" today  are DRONES and ROBOTS and flying snakes (flying cars that can deliver to hospitals not just deliver bombs?) grabbing the scary giant frogs just before they wreak havoc (and as Rabbah Bar Bar Chana implies – we have to believe the Israelite People are CONSTANTLY saved by G-d alone).

And also about – well, the funny side of the Bible – and the challenges of Moses growing up in a palace but creating the Sabbath REST - and a new nation conceived in dedication … well

There's a lot to read and think about in this week's portion. Enough to hopefully save another generation of our people from forgetting….?

Shabbat Shalom – Health and Peace and Knowing What's Beyond Our Regular Boundaries


Portion Shemote - MOSES - Why do stray bullets kill Kids?

Portion Shemote  - MOSES - Why do stray bullets kill Kids?
Okay. MOSES never lived in the Bronx or BedSty
But he did kill the Egyptian who was beating up a Jewish guy
Couldn't the "Prince Moses of Egypt" just order a stop to the  beating?
Moses himself says later that he is a stutterer. Probably nobody would have anyway listened to his talking ... So he had to take action.
I remember when a drunk tenant of mine tried ro beat me to death 2 blocks from my Brooklyn home - because his  77 year old father sold his house to me Instead of dying and leaving it to that  son. Why violence? Drunkenness - or Hatred?
Moses was probably in disguise anyway, As
It says in the portion "he went out (of the palace) -out to see  his brethren"
-something dictator Pharoah would not have approved...
Probay he would have been killed for opening up his mouth,
 as any Egyptian guard who was beating an Israelite would do -
As Reb Shlomo Carlebach said,
The WORLD had to learn about Auschwitz! But today? The WORLD - has it learned -or changed?
"Kill the Whitey,  kill the Whitey " they yelled from the curb, as my years of karate saved my life, just 2 blocks from my house in Crown Heights.
I had been struck quite by surprise as the attacker - who weighed about 60 pounds miore than me, kept pounding and \i kept blocking what I could ... just outside that house. (The neighbors later told me he had "done time" for manslaughter, too.)
So what about kids in tough spaces?
They have no chance. The are like Israelites-of-Egypt held by the slavery of hundreds of years.
Why Egypt? Why Auschwitz?  ...And all the many many cases of ... well ... we all know
I think Biden and Harris - and cuomo and DiBlasio etc ... need to start an initiative -
 to pair up big brothers from the Jewish ghettos
 with underprivilged kids drom their own ghettos ... playing basketball or checkers and talking
Across that street  a few  months before,
I had given a baby outfit to a different tenant, who had a grandchild in South Caroline that week.
She cried! So I asked why?
She answered "Nobody EVER gave anyone in my family a gift!"
Did that act of kindness maybe save me?
Or was it the karate training that maybe Moses had in the palace -
that taught him to protect others?
And the next day he did not answer to the hateful words of "those that watched the fights ...
and DID NOTHING! (Read in the Portion).
More about Egypt and the Jews and Moses next week...
Love AND Shabbos and Health
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz
Shabbat Shalom