Shemot - Shake It Up

by Rebbetzin Malkah

As we enter a new book of the Torah, the history of our people will take a dramatic turn due to the destiny shift of one man - Moshe.  From a royal upbringing to shepherding the wilderness of Midian, one man will hurl himself from all the comforts of the known world to search the depths of his soul and embark on a spiritual quest that will not only transform himself, but lead to the ultimate salvation of his people.

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Behar-Bechukotai - The Power of Mediocrity


by Rebbetzin Malkah

Most of us have seen pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, touted as a marvelous architectural wonder for many ages.  But I can't help but snicker when I see it.  Yes, indeed it has interesting architectural features and form.  But why give it such a heightened status when all of us can see that it is leaning. I know, the name says it all.  But I know I would be far more impressed if it didn't lean.  To me, it is a glaring reminder that the engineers did not survey the ground and become familiar with the territory, or seek to utilize their engineering skills to erect a structure that would represent their talents.  Not only is it an accident waiting to happen, but it has been the source of a great amount of effort and money to right the structure and keep the public safe.  This glorification of a botched attempt can be lethal not only in the physical realm but in the spiritual realm. If we deceive ourselves in the ways of keeping Torah, we risk building in vain and put others in jeopardy.  In this week's parasha, we are given the guarantee that if we follow in the ways of our Creator, the Divine Engineer, then that which we will build will be upright and everlasting and blessings of the land and fruitfulness will be with us.

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Beshalach - Wanted: Stonewashed Rugged Faith

by Rebbetzin Malkah

When the Baal Shem Tov was young, he lived in the mountains of southern Russia. From time to time he would walk to the top of a mountain, and lose himself in thought. Lost to the world, lost to himself, but found to G-d.Deep in this lostness and this foundness, he once began to walk where there was no ground to walk on. As he put his foot down, he was stepping into an abyss.
But before he could hurtle downward, a nearby mountain moved, and closed the gap. The Baal Shem, all unknowing, continued on firm ground:  lost to the world, lost to himself, but found to G-d. -- Chassidic tale

 

Stonewashing is a process in the textile industry that is used to give a new denim cloth garment a worn-out appearance. This process also helps to increase the softness and flexibility of otherwise stiff and rigid fabrics such as denim.  This process entails what the name implies: washing the denim with large stones to roughen up and soften the cloth. As stones represent an obstacle or hardship, the denim is likened to B'nei Yisrael's fabric of faith.  The challenges that Hashem places before B'nei Yisrael as they travel through the wilderness are meant to tenderize and increase their faith.  Moshe, Mashiach Yeshua and the Baal Shem Tov all prove to us that through this stonewashing comes a small seed of faith that can rise above the evil, chaos and doubt that prevail in our midst. Not only can we move mountains, but we can be a conduit of faith and possibility to those around us, even in the most impossible of circumstances.

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Vayeitzei - Where Eternity Kisses Earth

by Rebbetzin Malkah

There is an aggadah (legend) in the Midrash that the Roman Emperor Hadrian asked how man would be revived in the World to Come;  Rabbi Joshua Ben Hananiah replied that it would be "From Luz, in the back-bone." "Prove this to me," said Hadrian. Then the Rabbi took Luz, a small bone of the spine, and immersed it in water, but it was not softened; he put it into the fire, but it was not consumed; he put it into a mill, but it could not be pounded; he placed it upon an anvil and struck it with a hammer, but the anvil split and the hammer was broken. (Ecclesiastes Rabbah xii / Genesis Rabbahxviii).

"Yaacov arose early in the morning and took the stone that he place around his head and set it up as a  pillar; and he poured oil on its top.  And he named that place Beth-el; however Luz was the city's name originally."  Bereishis 28:18-19

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Order from Above and Below

by Rabbi Jason

G-d must be an engineer.  Well, at least I try to tell myself this.  We all look at Hashem through the lenses of our own experience.  I like to build things, and have done so to varying degrees since I was a child.  I know that one of the “hats” Hashem wears is that of Creator, Builder, and Thinker Upper of Stuff.  The Torah is filled with stories and accountings of great detail.  G-d is a G-d of order, we are all told.  But you need only open up the first story to understand the order of creation and start to apply it to your own life.

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Toldot - The First Drive-Through

by Rebbetzin Malkah

It looks something like this:  Esav pulls up to Yaacov's tent exhausted. With reckless ambition, he orders a bowl of lentil stew super-sized, pays with his birthright, and drives off gastronomically satisfied.  And there you have it:  the first drive-through in history.  Sound familiar?  While we have Esav to thank for this modern-day invention, more importantly his example is an admonition in preserving our own birthrights : our generations and our destinies.  For in casting off his birthright so frivolously, he forfeited not only generational blessing and achievement, but also the chance to merit the world to come.  If we can recognize the gravity of preserving and emboldening our present and future toldot (generations) by the very manner in which we feed our lives, not only will our very lives and destinies be impacted, but we will move the Malchut Shamayim (Kingdom of Heaven) ever closer.

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Sukkot - Luxury Outdoor Accommodations

sukkotHCby Rebbetzin Malkah

When we think about taking a holiday, we imagine pristine beaches with white sand, blue water, blue skies.  Or perhaps it is that mountain vista with ice cold streams bubbling down river rock dotted beds, deer crossing the forest laden roads and the clean quiet. But how many of us imagine a hut topped with branches so we can see the stars, walls for protection from the wind and sun, and a chance to eat and sleep in the outdoors during one of the more unsettling times of the year?  Most of us probably don't conjure up such images in the autumn, but it is precisely at this time when we read Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), enter the outdoors, and contemplate our true purpose and the meaning of life:  outside the safety and comfort of our home.

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