Parashat Hashavua

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No it's not outdated at all - ancient maybe, down to earth maybe, in a 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

Portion Lech LeChah - Weddings and Warriors

Portion Lech LeChah - Weddings and Warriors
I Went to a Moroccan Persian wedding this week.  Last night the couple came by because I am letting them store their gifts in my storage room for a month until  they can move into the apartment they rented.
I had to also speak to them a bit - aboout communication and communicating feelings. Also always a good review for me!
As to the portion - so Abraham - how did he get so many friends,
 after moving to a new country - enough to raise his own army?
And an old man at that! 75!
He made friends - NOT with Pharoah or the Philistines,
but Aner Eshkol and Mamre - 
whose names are preserved forever around Hebron - to this day!
This was a tough week for me, attending
A memorial for an old friend who passed away- 
after nearly half century of marriage
And This Morning after prayers an
Other guy mentioned he got divorced this summer 
after 50 years of marriage - but the 2 years of CORONA were hard!
Corona has left a path of "destructed" people and families!
G-d protect us from any more!
SO - Why was I invited to tha t wedding?
My job was to connect some estranged people ... and
It seemed to work!
Besides that a couple of 55-60 year old guys were amazed - and
ASKED ME How I Was Dancing with the mostly 20-25 year old guys
(the women were dancing on the other side of the room...)
But I still was able to motivate some of the older  ? (Old 50-60's) 
semi drunk crowd keep dancing as long as the music played!
So the 75 year old Abraham has to go rescue his kidnapped nephew who was hanging out with some nasty characters - too much for most people?
So he raises a posse - do you think they were all 75 year old geezers?
They were BELIEVERS and followers and friends!
Rebbi Nachamn of Breslav teaches :
Never Be Old
Dont act old
Dont think old
Keep dancing ... and helping to rescue the world
Think of all the ways to keep 
BECAUSE you have some holy work to do ALL YOUR DAYS!
I was wearing a cap on the bus, and this lady says to me
What teams do you follow?
She says "me and my husband are from Chicago 
and we are 91 year old 
CUBS fans.
I don't even know if the team still exists - but she ceratinly does!
Shabbat Shalom - stay healthy and think POSITIVE
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Noach - Facebook and the Flood (not IDA)

Portion Noach - Facebook and the Flood (not IDA)
Actually I had a good friend named Ida, a neighbor-friend -
and Armenian whose family escaped the Turkish murders in the 1900's.
Bless her soul - from her and her family and Armenian friends,
 I learned one part of the Noah's Ark story:
that even if you are living simply or creating beauty -
cruel hating people are creating horrific violence - anywhere allowed!
Another part of the story:
Mount Ararat is where the Ark landed ,
and there are those that believe they found some of the beamsof that SHIP high up in the Mountains!
So too ALL the Torah stories are not really removed from reality - 
they just depict a PART of the STORY - and LESSONS for ALL to learn.
And what about the COLLAPSE of the FACEBOOK and its "story "?
This week we learned how a single company can MANIPULATE -
(And we don't even know,
 what part of those billion users' lives it controls!)
Need a ferry ? An Ark? Umbrellas dont work in hurricanes.
Reading between the Armenia story, the Canaanite story, 
the AFGHANISTAN story -
that so many ignore or take for granted?
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion BuraySheet - Starting the Torah Year Differently

Portion   BuraySheet - Starting the Torah Year Differently
The Creation Stories in this week's portion (Garden of Eden, Cain and Abel, etc.)
begs a response:
How do we Examine the beginnings of Human History from a Spiritual Analysis in 2021
The Yalkut May Am LoAyz brings Midrashic and other explanations of:
Heaven, Earth, Angels, and G-d's Creations - which may be a bit much to modern people.
So then it says:
Dont waste more time than these statements-
because you will never know what's really in Heaven, etc.
But then it explains some of the history of the world -
starting with Adam and the fig leaves!
After eating from the tree of knowledge the Almighty gives Adam and Eve some CLOTHES.
The Yalkut May Am LoAyz brings  an explanation: 
It connects all the names presented ... from Adam thru Abraham...
and I give just a taste of it here.
The clothes from G-d aren't like our regular clothes - they are IMMORTAL G-dly clothes!
Adam passed them down to be used for a good purpose - 
but they were stolen by Cham son of Noah
who passed them down to Nimrod - the bad king who used them for War
When Abraham started to teach about G-d - Nimrod got worried - and tossed
Abraham into a fire - but Abraham escaped,
and he and Terach his father had to leave town -
So it's not the CLOTHES that make you IMMORTAL -
because Nimrod and his cronies aren't here -
It's the 
Shabbat Shalom from Jerusalem
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Haazinu - Moses' Great Song Tops the Charts

Portion Haazinu - Moses' Great Song Tops the Charts
Moses is the greatest example of Rebbe Nachman's Rule Number 1!: don't be old!
How did he actively stay young? By EXAMPLE he taught :
Sing and heal thyself (as I have heard many have done) and
Dance and heal thyself - as Rabbi Carlebach taught!
So here a a portion - Haazinu Hashamayim - singing - but also WARNING - You Gotta Watch out too!
Play by the Almighty's Rules - and the Teachings of Moshe Rabaynu - our teachert - and
Contribute to G-d's plan!
I hope everyone had a meaningful Yom kippur,  and are feeling well - and
a little lighter (unburdened by extra spiritual worries and maybe a pound or two   :)   ?
Shabbat Shalom - Getting Busy for Shabbat and the upcoming holiday
(and my flight home, please G-d)
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion VaYay Lech - Joshua takes over ... and With Yizkor coming up ...

Portion VaYay Lech - Joshua takes over ... and With Yizkor coming up ...
Changes in life - and the antidote-
In the portion Moses blesses JOSHUA in passing him the baton ...before leaving this world.
SO - Did Moses' kids say Yizkor for their Dad? And for all those that died in the 40 years in the desert?
But here the portion takes on another direction - 
Getting the people together - as a jump start to "moving on"- and Moving into Israel
it's the Mitzvah called Hakhel (the King would read the Torah in the Temple every 7 years)-
 where for TODAY the Lubavitcher said - we must set up groups to study together - read Torah - and call it HAKHEL - 
(because the desert years are NOT a paradigm for the Jews
 (as it IS for the children
 of Ishmael who to this day are a desert people -BUT they received a gift of OIL... - 
so was that to reward Abraham their forbear?)
MOVE AHEAD - AND AS  Reb Shlomo CARLEBACH SAID FOR this next holiday
Yom Kippur we ask G-d to forgive us for not going "through the (spiritual) gates".
(At the time of) Neila, G-d tells us, “Nvo’a sharekha” Come inside, 
Stop standing at the gates asking for forgiveness. Come Inside” (close to the Almighty)
based on an article from AISH - in memory of Rabbi Packouz    Kalman Moshe ben Reuven Avigdor
 problematic about Yom Kippur: how can anyone honestly come back year after year and say the exact same words, asking God for forgiveness for the same sins time and time again? At what point is it no longer believable?
The problem is rooted in trying to change their behavior – 
when they really should have been focused on trying to change their perception of themselves!
Our mission on Yom Kippur is to explore who we really want to be and commit to being that type of person. 
That is, once we define what we want our essence to be then we can naturally align our behavior to meet that new reality.

This is exactly what repentance is supposed to accomplish. 

Because Yom Kippur is the day when we search for who we are and commit to living a life that follows our self-definition,
Ultimately, when the work of Yom Kippur is done correctly, it leads one to self-fulfillment. This is why the Talmud describes it as one of the most festive days on the Jewish calendar. Reconnecting with who you truly are leads one to incredible self-satisfaction and a sublime sense of joy.


Portion Nitzavim - Standing (on line?) Before the Almighty

Portion Nitzavim - Standing (on line?) Before the Almighty
Questions from this week-
Are we here to teach others?
Are we here  to make the world a calmer place?
Are we here to FIX the mess that is today's world?
and to all these and more questions - HOW?
In the portion Moses speaks to the people - at the time just before their entering Israel to fight the Canaanites
and settle the land of Abraham their ancestor.
So - there's a couple of million people- is Moses -who is 120 - SHOUTING to them?
He says "we are ALL here" - but Are We ALL Here? Is EVERYBODY listening?  AND -
Is there a parallel for today - a warning message and a PRAYER for 
a paradigm for communication as a healer - and for making Israel and the world BETTER?
So waiting on line at the airport to get my flight - with 2000 others -Wednesday night,
there was a lot of fighting and running ahead - because the security was NOT laid out properly-
and young understaffed security group kept moving groups ahead of the hundreds waiting to be checked patiently,
Until the throngs surged - and walked up to the El Al counters
It was midnight and boarding had started already on a few flights!
Security for El Al started yelling and telling the people at the counters NOT to process people THEY did not send in
I tried to talk some sense and calm into the security guys - who had messed up - 
I went on with the surge - and was talking to
 a few not-religious people who were being bullied by security
and with one Rabbi type who was telling young yeshiva guys to run ahead.
So we 4 talked a bit - calmly - about the above issues - while trying  to move from line to line
who assigned us seats and took our suitcases and let us go fast -
even though we couldn't all find all our approvals needed to board!
Was the push and the shouting a parallel to the  Fire and Brimstone Messages of
Moses (who worked with no audio visuals?)
Our talking calmly among our little group seemed to work be cause - well we all got here safely!
SO Are we Here to Teach the World or not?
Moses' words seemed to work
because for
14 years they all listened to Joshua!
Maybe the Meditations of Rosh Hashing and Yom Kippur?
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Key Tavo ... of Curses and Songs

 Portion Key Tavo ... of Curses and Songs
It's not easy to explain a torah portion filled with blessings - and also curses.
Just the historical side could take volumes.
It says ...
Blessed are you in your towns and in the country -...
Which soon leads into
Cursed are you in your towns and in the country...
And what did the Israelites understand from these words of Moses anyway,
Remanded to them again on entry to Canaan - with 14 tough years Staring at them in the  face ?
As we now look to the imminent High Holy Days
Also staring at us in the ongoing pandemic
I would like to borrow a few words from my teacher Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Who said
For the King's birthday party the rich people brought expensive gifts
But the poor people had nothing
So they decided to sing and dance their way into the party
And the King waa happy with their song
Entering Canaan or
Entering a Synagogue
Or entering the new Jewish Year
Go with a song in your hearta and on your lips
And grab the blessings
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz

Portion Key Tay Tzay: the Warrior and the Woman

Portion Key Tay Tzay: the Warrior and the Woman
Life - it mimics the Torah - or it loses!
The torah has the SPIRITUAL SIDE
And also the Rules of Engagement!
So while waiting in the sun for my bus today, after reviewing the weekly OU portion commentators,
I look up to see a young father trying to jam a
Baby carriage into a stuffed bus baggage compartment.   But he didnt succeed, and sat there  in the gutter , looking perplexed.
After 2 minutes of other busses honking and trying to get around that " number 402", I gave one last look at the 50 people ignoring the guy, walked over, moved a couple of bags, and helped the thankful father put in the carriage
As it says in the middle of the portion if you see the donkey of your brother not fitting into the baggage compartment ...uhhhh ... faltering under the burden ...
Where was the wife n baby? Probably doing their part, keeping the driver from driving off.
What's that to do with the portion? That starts out "if you go to war and capture a woman ..."
Some Rabbi I Heard this week quoted the RamBaN (not Rambam maimonide s ) who reminded us (900 years ago) that since the portion always comes before the High Holiidays, that we should take a look at our maybe not best spiritual ways -
In preparation for the spiritual introspection  part of
"getting holy for the high holy days"!
Note: the torah rule:
If a warrier decides he wants to marry a captive she has to live in a Jewish home for 30 days with no makeup and recant and renounce and mourn her parentage...
And then he can marry her or release her but Not Abuse or Enslave
Okay - in war a lot goes down,
The portion also talks about divorce rules ... and
Zohar (kabala) goes deep as always - into the supernatural forces ,
The Dark Side -and "the other" ...
And the Fixing - when possible
If a divorcee remarries....
"The Other"- is the "dark side" from him or from her...
But which is the left side amd which is the right side...?
Right there is enough To Start for all my High Holiday
Torah Rules
And the Spirit
And preparation for High Holiday Introsoection
Shabbat Shalom - stay healthy
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz