The true meaning of Shabbat

We are blessed to be having company for Shabbat dinner this week.  We will be asking our guests questions as part of

We will find a positive spin on the craziness that has been this week.  Shabbat is a gift to us.  It is an opportunity to be apart rather than a part of the regular news cycle.  It is a time to separate from all that drives us berserk and allow ourselves time to recover.

This week let us find calm.  Let us find peace.  Let us find Shalom.

The root of Shalom is Shalem, שלם meaning wholeness.  When we find true peace, we feel ourselves a little more whole.

Tonight we are having a dinner that blends east and west.  We will have Sesame Chicken, Veggie Lo Mein, challah, brownies.  The recipes are Americanized versions of Asian, Jewish, and wherever brownies came from cuisine.  I think it will be delicious.  When we come together, we can create new opportunities.  Blending these different elments and flavors is not just a hodgepodge, but a statement of identity.  It is a reminder that we all look different.  We all come from different places, but we can find ways to sit down together.  We can talk to one another.  We can love one another.

Shabbat Shalom!

Beshallach and Blizzards

Kol Yisrael construction photo: Rabbi Weintraub

This week in history our ancestors made it to the sea, crossing over and rejoicing in song.  Yet the moments before that crossing were rather tense. Even with the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night, even being led by the Holy One, our people were unsure of their path.  When Pharaoh’s chariots (what might seem to us like the shock and awe of tanks and drones) arrived, they were terrified, even saying in Ex 14:11Was it for want of graves in Egypt that you brought us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt?” (

Tomorrow, there may be a little snow in our area.  Stopping at the grocery store this morning–we really were out of bread and milk–I saw many very stressed looking people.  Were they worried over a few inches of snow?  Being stuck home with antsy children?  Afraid of the lost income of another missed day of work?  Why do people get so concerned over normal winter weather?

We have experienced a very mild winter.  Call it global warming/climate change or just changing trends, the last few years we have seen abnormally warm weather and relatively little snow.  Yet when the snow comes–it is a panic!  We are not crossing the sea.  We need no miracle.  We just need a little bit of preparation and flexibility.  Maybe we also need a little faith.

Kotel Photo: Rabbi Weintraub during previous CAI congregational Israel trip

14:13 But Moses said to the people, “Have no fear! Stand by, and witness the deliverance which the Lord will work for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will battle for you; you hold your peace!”

However, this summer you can join me in Israel: I don’t expect Gd will be battling against a blizzard tomorrow, but the plows certainly will!  What Moses really said is that we must take a step back, to see that while we can only exist in a single moment in time, there is so much more to our existence.  We must see beyond what seems like a threat to the opportunity and the promise.  For our ancestors, it was Israel.  For us, it may be spring.

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