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Weekly Newsletter Message

Are you ready for 2018?

Will 2018 be a good year for our world?

That’s totally up to you.

One of the most revolutionary and empowering ideas Judaism introduced to the world is that history does not unfold randomly and by chance, but rather it is guided or created by our actions. We are not mere spectators, observing history evolve, but rather we are active participants shaping and guiding it.

We don’t witness history, we make history!

The future depends on our actions. How we behave today will define our world tomorrow. And in this regard, it is the small mitzvot that have the greatest effect.

We recently celebrated Chanukah. Many have the custom to place the Menorah at the window in order to bring the light and message of the Menorah to the outside world. Now, if we are trying light up the world, wouldn’t we be better off creating a huge communal bonfire on Main street? Wouldn’t that be more effective than my small flames on my personal Menorah? However, the message of the Menorah is that it is precisely my small personal candles that illuminate the world. It is the small mitzvot that we each do, that determine what our world will look like in 2018 and beyond.

There was once a shipwreck stuck at the bottom of the ocean.  The crew employed a crane to lift the ship – but the crane couldn’t get the ship to move without its chain snapping.

Then one day someone dove into the water and connected one end of a thin cable to the wreckage and the other to a small hot air balloon. Everyone laughed. If the huge crane could not lift the wreckage, there’s no way this little cable could do it! But the diver wasn’t done. He dove down again, tying another cable – and another, and another.  Soon everyone got the point and they all started attaching cables. Sure enough a short while later, with hundreds of little cables attached, the shipwreck slowly rose to the surface.

Looking forward to making 2018 a great year!

Shabbat Shalom 

Rabbi Benjy Silverman  

Did you have a bad week?

That’s up to you to decide.

In this week’s Torah portion Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers and says “"I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that G-d sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But G-d sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but G-d."

Joseph could easily have seen himself as victim, sold by his jealous brothers, but instead he chose to see himself as an agent of G-d on an important mission, one with tremendous potential.  By framing events in this way, he freed himself from an emotional prison of anger, resentment, frustration and victimhood.

There is always more than one possible interpretation of what happens to us and we have the ability to choose between the different interpretations.  (According to the most up-to-date scientific research, none of us experience objective or true reality as it is, instead we each create our own version of reality. Our brain interprets reality the way it chooses to.  Watch this TED talk for some examples.)

In the words of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, when facing challenge, ask yourself “What does this bad experience enable me to do that I could not have done otherwise?”

Why choose a negative interpretation when you can choose a positive one?

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman 

 

 

Why Be Jewish?

“Why Be Jewish?” is a question we only have the luxury of asking today. In the past, the anti-Semite gave the Jew no choice. The Jew was refused entrance to mainstream society.

But today we live in a different world. We are accepted and welcomed and can easily assimilate. For the first time history our children and grandchildren can ask “Why be Jewish?”

Do we know how to answer the question?

The answer of course is Chanukah :)

No, I’m not referring to the Chanukah Gelt and latkes, but rather the message of Chanukah.

Why be Jewish?

Because the world needs you to be Jewish.

Judaism is the most powerful idea that the world has ever seen.  Might does not make right; every individual is created in the image of G‑d, and is therefore unique and valuable; humans are partners with G‑d in creation, with a mission to better the world - These are ideas the world the world urgently needs to hear.

Judaism teaches lessons that the world needs to learn. A family that keeps Shabbat is always reminded of what is really important—that there is more to life than accumulating wealth. The kosher laws teach us that we are not mere animals that must feed our every urge and desire. A mezuzah on the door tells the world that this home is built for a higher purpose.

On Chanukah we light the candles at the window facing the street to remind us that through our personal Judaism we bring light and healing to the entire world.

Shabbat Shalom

Rabbi Benjy Silverman

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