Chavarah- Jewish Community Learning

A blog of Jewish study and traditions. Notes from classes: Torah Study with Rabbi Marder, Toledot and Shabbaton as well as other details found of interest.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Choose Life and Survive

David Meir-Levi led our Torah Study through one of the highlights of Deuteronomy:

‘Choose Life so you and your children will live’

The discussion wrapped around many different historical perspectives of how we have ‘chosen life’ in the face of challenges.

The reminder of this is in our own sanctuary on the curtain of our ark. Powerful words with much meaning.

"It is not in Heaven" - it is up to us as people to assure our survival:
Hassidic story The Oven of Akhnai
– I found it at this website with interesting analysis:

The end of the session comment seems to wrap up the discussion:
From Antiochus to Arafat, from Haman to Hitler – they didn’t want us here...

Why don't they like us? Maybe it is our chutzpah. BUT

Chutzpah has kept us alive as a people!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Deuteronomy 30: 11 – 14

It says we can ‘get it’. It is not beyond our reach or our understanding.

Leading to a discussion on ‘wisdom’ and our abilities to comprehend Torah, this part warrants further exploration.

Job 28:12 - where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?

Ecclesiastes 7:23 - I tested all this with wisdom, I said: 'I will get wisdom'; but it was far from me.

A Hasidic Story – The hunter says to Elijah that he doesn’t have sufficient intelligence to understand Torah.
Elijah responds; You were not born with the skills to hunt and yet you acquired those skills. The same way you can learn Torah.

It is based on need and motivation.

We need to both understand and be motivated by Torah. It is not enough to think or feel it, we must ‘Do It’.

While it is within our grasp and our ability, it is complex and deep and requires our commitment to study.

Book mentioned: Finding God In Physics by Roy Masters

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

France - New President - New Jewish Connection

France's new president & an interesting Technion connection.

"Sarkozy's grandfather, Aron Mallah, nicknamed Benkio, was born in 1890.
Beniko's uncle Moshe was a well-known Rabbi and a devoted Zionist who, in
1898 published and edited "El Avenir", the leading paper of the Zionist
national movement in Greece at the time. His cousin, Asher, was a Senator
in the Greek Senate and in 1912 he helped guarantee the establishment of
the Technion ? the elite technological university in Haifa, Israel. In
1919 he was elected as the first President of the Zionist Federation of
Greece and he headed the Zionist Council for several years. In the 1930's
he helped Jews flee to Israel, to which he himself immigrated in 1934

(information from ATS)

Heart and Soul

Deuteronomy 30:1-10
What “Heart and Soul” mean?

“Heart and Soul” is repeated several times in different ways in verses 2, 6, 10 and other places in Torah as well. Moses keeps reminding us that we must accept this as part of our lives as a true commitment and understanding. “Heart and Soul” is beyond behavior, beyond intellectual or emotional. It is an internalization of the mitzvot, it is integrated into your character and governs your behavior.

Moses speaks of the future. God will “circumcise the heart”. We also explored the meaning of this phrase in verse 6. It is a metaphor to cut away any obstruction. We will "open the heart". Moses tells us that it will not be easy and that bad will happen. He urges us to use the law as a ‘guide in the darkness’ ahead.

Looking at the view of Chafetz Chaim and Samson Raphael Hirsch - both were anti-Zionism and believed that we cannot bring about a return from exile ourselves. Chaim says that ‘all things are not random and that all the curses will happen’ and we must wait for repentance. Hirsch sees this as a ‘blueprint for living’ That Torah is eternal - it is part of the past, present and future. We must keep going through the exile.