Friday December 30, 2016
4:35 pm Candle Lighting
4:30 pm Mincha
5:15 pm Arvit
6:00 pm Young Couples Shabbat Dinner
Saturday December 31, 2016
8:48 am (9:27 am GRA) Latest time for shema
8:45 am Shaharit
10:00 am Torah Reading
11:00 am Drasha by Rabbi Shlomo Yisraeli
11:30 am Kiddush sponsorship is available.
4:10 pm Mincha at Westwood Kehilla
5:39 pm Shabbat Ends
6:30 – 7:30 pm AVOT U'BANIM HAS BEEN POSTPONE TO NEXT WEEK
7:45 am Shaharit followed by breakfasts and shiur
Monday & Thursday
6:30 am Shaharit followed by breakfasts and shiur
Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday
6:45 am Shaharit followed by breakfasts and shiur
The holiday of Chanukah is often misunderstood. People imagine that it was a fight of military prowess and for political liberty. Yet neither of these is true. Chanukah, rather, tells us that we can accomplish miracles when we truly dedicate ourselves to G-d.
The Greeks of that time glorified the external. They celebrated physical prowess and great works of art, all in the service of their idols. Olympia was the site of the games, because it had a "sanctuary site" for their gods, and sculptors and poets would gather there during the Olympiads as well.
When they invaded Judea, they did not expel the Jews or enslave them. Rather, they attempted to eliminate Judaism, to make the Jews no different than other, idolatrous nations. They targeted three Jewish practices in particular, because each of these differentiated the Jews from other nations: Circumcision, Sabbath Observance, and Sanctification of the New Moon. The first two of these differentiate Jews physically and in their practices. The third is tied to the Jewish belief that we ourselves can impact the spiritual realms, by determining the times of our holidays.
Many Jews went along with the Greeks and even participated in idolatrous practices, but the Maccabees refused. And as we say in our prayers, G-d "gave the strong into the hands of the weak, the many to the few, the impure to the pure, the wicked to the righteous, those who provoke to those who involve themselves with Your Torah."
Each of these phrases is important in our understanding of the true nature of Chanukah. The Jews of that time did not win political independence – they did not become the dominant force in a turbulent region, and continued as a vassal state. But they secured religious liberty and freedom to practice as Jews.
Physically, it denies logic to imagine that a small band of Jewish priests should be able to overcome the mighty, well-trained and well-armed Greek army. Spiritually, it also makes no sense. The entire world of that day was pagan, devoted to idolatrous gods. Rather than persisting with their unique ideas and study of Torah, the few, persecuted Jews should have succumbed to the popular ideas of the day.
And yet, of course, what happened is the very opposite. The Greeks and their gods are gone, while the Jewish ideals of ethical monotheism and morality have spread. On Chanukah, we celebrate the ability of small points of light to push back a world of darkness.
1st Aliya: The year is 2229 and Yoseph has been in prison for 12 years. Pharaoh has two similar dreams and demands their interpretation. The wine steward remembers Yoseph and his gift for dream interpretation, and Yoseph is rushed into Pharaoh's presence.
2nd Aliya: Yoseph interprets Pharaoh's dream and suggests to him how to best administrate the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine. (The extent of Yoseph's brilliance will first be revealed in next week's Parasha.)
3rd Aliya: Yoseph is appointed viceroy over Egypt, and puts into effect the plan that he had outlined to Pharaoh. He marries the daughter of Potiphar (the daughter of Dina) and has two sons, Menashe and Ephrayim.
4th Aliya: The seven years of famine begin, and the only food available is in Mitzrayim. Yoseph, unrecognized by his brothers, recognizes them when they come to buy food. He accuses them of treachery and imprisons them for three days.
5th Aliya: Yoseph demands that Binyamin be brought to Egypt and keeps Shimon as a hostage. The brothers relate their adventure to Yakov who refuses to send Binyamin. The increasing famine forces Yakov to concede to Yehuda's guarantee that Binyamin will be safe, and the brothers return to Egypt.
6th Aliya: The brothers are reunited with Shimon and invited to eat at the table of Yoseph. All appears to be forgiven and Yoseph sees Binyamin for the first time in 22 years.
7th Aliya: Yoseph hatches his final plot against his brothers. His famed chalice is planted in the Binyamin's saddlebag forcing the brothers to return to Mitzrayim and a confrontation with Yoseph. The year is 2238.
The story in this week's Haftarah is among the most famous in all of the Navi. In 2924 – 840b.c.e., Shlomo became king. Shlomo was twelve years old when he ascended the throne of Dovid, and his reign lasted for 40 years. During his reign, the Bet Hamikdash was built and an unprecedented era of peace and scholarship ensued.
The Haftarah begins after Shlomo's fateful dream. During the dream, G-d granted Shlomo anything he desired. Shlomo asked for wisdom and G-d granted his wish. Shlomo's wisdom would earn him the title of, "the wisest of all men."
The very first test of Shlomo's genius was the classic Solomonic resolution of, "Cut the child in half." The nation was awed by his divinely inspired wisdom and recognized their young king as the true heir to the throne of Dovid.
The connection between this story and our Parasha is the relationship between dreams, destiny, success, and international recognition. In both the Parsha and the Haftarah, dreams are divine indicators. Yoseph's interpretations of Pharaoh's dreams are reflections of his divine inspiration and wisdom. Shlomo's insight into the psychology and love of a mother were equally a reflection of divine wisdom.
"Ladies Night Out" is in the process of being planned! If you have any ideas to share please email Nahal Rayn