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Tag: Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

Sep 30, 2022

Hurricanes, Hijabs & Yom Kippur

Those of us living in Miami for a while could tell that the rain falling on Tuesday and Wednesday was no ordinary rain. We felt the barometric pressure in our bodies. We saw the gusts of wind, which we knew were “bands” on the outer edge of Hurricane Ian.

Sep 23, 2022

Children Are Our Shofars

Why do the Rabbis feel it is important to know that creation happened on Rosh Hashanah? By linking the creation of the world in the macro sense, with our own personal stock-taking in the micro sense, we are all given the opportunity to understand our infinite potential as human beings and recreate ourselves anew year after year.

Sep 16, 2022

Rita Spector Connector with Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar

Last week the Rita Spector Connector’s featured guest, with a focus on spirituality, was our own head of CAJE, Rabbi Efrat Zarren-Zohar.

Sep 16, 2022

The Queen’s Legacy

This Dvar Torah on Parashat Ki Tavo was written by the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Ephraim Mirvis in tribute to the legacy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Sep 9, 2022

Our Struggle with Doubt

Moving against our nature, especially lifting ourselves beyond our natural impulses and desires, is a struggle, a fight with our “yetzer hara” or “evil inclination”. The Ramban tells us that this struggle to keep mitzvot is ultimately our method of refining our souls…

Sep 2, 2022

What is Spiritual about Judaism?

Judaism happens to be an ideal tradition in which to find spirituality through the physical world, because our tradition asks us to elevate (rather than deny or denigrate) the sensual and physical to the level of holiness, often through prayer and blessing.

Sep 2, 2022

“Grow, Grow”

This week’s Torah portion (Parashat Shoftim) is a touchstone text within Jewish environmentalism, as it contains the commandment “not to destroy” trees in the field (“bal taschit”).

Aug 26, 2022

The Mind's Eye

In the opening verse of this week's parsha, Re’eh, Moses speaks to the Jewish people and says: "See (re'eh), I have set before you today a blessing and a curse" (Devarim/ Deuteronomy 11:26). Why does the Torah present this information in terms of "seeing," when it would have made more sense to use the idea of "hearing"?

Aug 19, 2022

Motivated by Love of God

If you do as God tells you to do, then God will reward you. But that is only half of the story: if you don’t do what God tells you to do, God will punish you severely... As much as the rabbis try to mitigate the intensity of the portion with their various explanations of the title, it does not appear to be the loving portion we would prefer.

Aug 12, 2022

Shema, Listen, with the Intention of Hearing

In this week’s Torah portion, Vaetchanan, Moses continues to deliver his final words to the Israelites, recalling the joys and the oys of their wilderness journey. Throughout the text the command to listen, Shema, is repeated on four different occasions...

Aug 5, 2022

The Power of Words

"These are the words, the words that brought us here, the words that shaped this hard place we have come to know and yet, in this place words escape us." - Rebecca Minkus-Lieberman | Tisha B’Av/ The 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av marks the day of destruction of both the 1st and 2nd Temples and many other disasters that have befallen the Jewish people. This weeks Dvar is a kavannah for Parshat Devarim, and Tisha B'av (observed this coming Sunday).

Jul 29, 2022

Why Travel?

Now that we are “vaxxed” and boosted, many of us have just taken trips or are scheduling time to travel after a few years of laying low due to Covid-19. And this, coincidentally mirrors some of our Torah portion for this week…

Jul 22, 2022

The Crown All Can Wear

Moses was in sight of the Angel of Death. Miriam had died. So had Aaron. And God had told Moses “you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was.” (Num. 27:12–13), so he knew he was not fated to live long enough to cross the Jordan and enter the land. Who would be his successor? Did he have any thoughts on the matter?

Jul 15, 2022

Not Seeing Is The Sin

This week’s Torah portion is mostly the story of Balak, the king of the nation Moab, who hires the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites, whom he perceives as a threat. Balaam then discovers that the power of blessing and cursing is God’s alone.

Jul 8, 2022

Shrouded In Mystery

This week’s Torah portion, Chukat (Numbers 19 - 21), begins with a detailed description of the ritual of the red heifer... the Torah calls this ritual a chok - a decree, meaning a law, which defies human logic... the procedure is shrouded in mystery and is enigmatic. The intention is to purify those that are ritually impure. In the process, however, the individuals who facilitate the ritual of purification become impure themselves!

Jul 1, 2022

Korach Leadership: Taker or Giver?

This week's parashah, Korach, begins with the words "Korach took / vayikach Korach." Since the verb is not followed by a direct object, the commentators wonder what it is he took. Furthermore, Korach did not take alone -- Datan and Abiram are subjects in that sentence, as well; yet the verb וַיִּקַּח is in the singular…

Jun 24, 2022

The Big Lie

Twelve scouts are asked to go stealthily into the Land of Israel and look around. They return with samples of its rich produce: clusters of grapes, pomegranates, and figs and set them down in front of Moses and Aaron and the assembly. And then, instead of describing all that they had seen, an alternative reality is delivered as described in B’Midbar / Numbers 13:26-33

Jun 17, 2022

G!Ds Spirit Rests On You

This week's parsha, Beha'alotcha, recounts a curious incident, recounts a curious incident... the Holy One tells Moshe to gather 70 elders, Joshua and himself and enter the Tent of Meeting so that G!D can deliver a message. Then "[t]he Lord came down in a cloud and spoke to Moshe and took of the spirit that was on him and put it on the 70 elders. And when the spirit of G!D rested upon them, they began to prophesy." (Bamidbar/Numbers 11:24-25) So what does it mean they began to prophesy?

Jun 10, 2022

We Need Blessing!

One of the most exciting parts of Parashat Naso, this week’s Torah portion, is the inclusion of the three-part blessing recited by the Cohanim… These blessings have become central to many parts of our liturgy and are included in the repetition of the Musaf Amidah either by the Cantor, or in some traditional synagogues, by Cohanim (descendants of priests) themselves, to bless the people using this ancient biblical ritual…

Jun 3, 2022

Naomi and Ruth: The Vulnerability of Women & Immigrants

On all of the Festivals, the custom arose among Jews that various biblical scrolls (megillot) are read in keeping with a particular overlapping theme echoed in the holiday and the chosen piece of writing. On Shavuot this coming weekend, Megillat Rut / the Scroll of Ruth is read, ostensibly because the barley harvest is a key plot line...