Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bechukotai Text Message

Parashat Bechukotai (If you follow my rules)      

Among the verses of this parasha we find the Tochecha, the rebuke that G-d gives the people of Israel if they do not follow G-d’s commandments.
Chapter 26:36 says: “I will bring despair into the hearts of those of you who survive in enemy territory. Just the sound of a windblown leaf will cause them to run, and they will run scared as if running from a sword!
The image of the sound of a driven leaf making a person scared is extremely powerful.
Driven leaves usually appear in the fall, and it reminds me of a nice poetic phrase: “He fell in love with the flowers, but not with the roots, and when fall arrived, he didn’t know what to do…”
Roots are sometimes more important than beautiful flowers.


In memory of my beloved mother and teacher Miriam Rachel bat Israel Itzchak Z"L

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Behar Text Message

Parashat Behar (at the mountain)           

In Leviticus Chapter 25 (that holds most of the text of our section) three times we find verses that start with the following words:
 If one of your fellow Israelites faces financial difficulty,” verses 25, 35 and 39.
The first verse talks about someone who needs to sell part of his property.
The second verse deals with a person that needs to borrow money.
The third verse talks about an individual who sells him/herself as a slave to pay a debt.
What I did not mention on purpose, is that in the third verse after the words, “ If one of your fellow Israelites faces financial difficulty” there is an addition, the word עמך , (with you).
In life, we do not know when we will need money or when we will be able to lend money, but we always need to remember not to leave alone those who are in great need.
The Torah reminds us with a minor detail, “to never let alone,” how important it is to help the needy.


In memory of my beloved mother and teacher Miriam Rachel bat Israel Itzchak Z"L

Friday, May 20, 2016

Emor Text message

Parashat Emor (You shall tell)

In this section we are commanded to count the Omer. Every day between Pesach and Shavuot we add one more day.
In Biblical times this mitzvah expressed a strong agricultural relationship between the people of Israel and its land.
How can the Jews who live outside of Israel relate to this mitzvah, too?
I strongly believe that counting the Omer expresses our deep desire to be further from Egypt and closer to Sinai.
Every day that passes we are less slaves and more a holy people.

Rabbi Fabian Werbin


In memory of my beloved mother and teacher Miriam Rachel bat Israel Itzchak Z"L

Friday, May 13, 2016

Kedoshim Text message

Parashat Kedoshim (you shall be a holy nation)

There is an explicit prohibition in the Torah that has become very relevant in recent decades.
In Leviticus 19:29, the Torah forbids tattoos. The main reason for this prohibition is learned from the context in which it appears, and, it is that other nations used to have tattoos on their bodies (maybe some type of idolatry).
It is not a secret that many young people (and adults, too) have chosen to have tattoos on their bodies.
Here is where the Torah becomes more relevant.  During the Shoah many Jews were forced to have a number marked on their arms. It is difficult to understand how some may do it voluntarily…
The prohibition against making a tattoo on your body is still current, and after the Shoah, it gained a new significance.

In memory of my beloved mother and teacher Miriam Rachel bat Israel Itzchak Z"L

Friday, May 6, 2016

Acharei Mot text message

Parashat Acharei mot (After the death)

The text surprised us…
Leviticus 18:3 “You must not do things like they are done in the land of Egypt, where you used to live. And you must not do things like they are done in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you.”
So… If you are not supposed to do things like in Egypt or Canaan, you are supposed to do things like… in the desert - in the Midvar.
The desert was the place where we received the mitzvoth, where we formed as a people, where we built ourselves.
The Torah is telling us, keep building yourself every day. Do not think that the start or the end is what matters. What matters is the journey. As Antonio Machado says in his famous poem (in Spanish):  Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar. “Wayfarer, there is no way. Make your way by going farther.”

In memory of my beloved mother and teacher Miriam Rachel bat Israel Itzchak Z"L

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Fabian Werbin

Shabbat candles in Bethesda 7:48

Shabbat ends : 8:49

Friday, April 15, 2016

Metzorah text message.

Parashat Metzorah (Leper)

You will have leprosy in your houses…
In Rashi’s explanation we can find the essence of Judaism.
“Heb. וְנָתַתִּי, lit. and I will give (leprosy in your houses) This is [good] news for them that lesions of tzara’ath will come upon them, because the Amorites had hidden away treasures of gold inside the walls of their houses during the entire forty years that the Israelites were in the desert, and through the lesion, he will demolish the house (see verses 43-45) and find them. — [Vayikra Rabbah 17:6]”
The essence of Judaism is turning a curse into a blessing.

In memory of my beloved mother and teacher Miriam Rachel bat Israel Itzchak Z"L

Friday, April 8, 2016

Tazria Text message

Parashat Tazria (When a woman conceives)

The Torah speaks in this section mainly about skin diseases.  Skin diseases are usually related to impurity.
All of a sudden in the middle of the description, there is the following verse:
Leviticus 13:13:  “…then the priest will make an examination. If the skin disease has covered the person’s whole body, the priest will declare the infected person clean. If the person has turned entirely white, he is clean.”  If the disease covers the whole body, that person is pure.  If 99% of the body is affected, impure, 100% pure.

There are many interpretations to this difficult verse…
I would like to share a short story. When I was at Haifa University, I had a teacher who, in his first class, told us:  “You can only get 98 points in this class. 100 is God. 99 is the teacher…”
I didn’t like the idea of the 99, but that idea that only God is 100, I loved it!

In memory of my beloved mother and teacher Miriam Rachel bat Israel Itzchak Z"L