Showing posts from 2018

Speaking The Truth: Parshat Pinhas

Shalom to all!

Enjoy my weekly Torah Video Commentary and let me know your thoughts!

B'vrachah and Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yonatan

L'Chaim to Mayim, L'Chaim to Miriam!


An Argument for the Sake of Heaven


The Big But



Shabbat Shalom Everyone!

Click below for my weekly video on Parshat Beha'aotcha.
May God's Face Be Lifted Unto You...
Parshat Naso 5778

Artwork by Joel Amit

The blessing known as Birkat Kohanim / "The Priestly Blessing" is one of the best known and most powerful blessings in the Torah. There is much to say about this blessing, but I would like to focus on one expression in the third and final line of the blessing. 

יִשָּׂא יְהוָה פָּנָיו אֵלֶיךָ .   May God raise up His face to you.

What does it mean for God to raise up His face to you?
First of all, many translations of the text render panim as countenance, which is another way of saying face, but can also mean "support." Did the translation mean to indicate that the expression -- "raise His face" means, "May God support you"? Translation is, after all, an interpretation of the text, and this helps to explain the anthropomorphic language as merely figurative language. So, if we are not intended to understand these words literally, what does the blessing mean when it says, &quo…

Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach from Australia!

Vayikra/Leviticus 23:15
וּסְפַרְתֶּם לָכֶם מִמָּחֳרַת הַשַּׁבָּת מִיּוֹם הֲבִיאֲכֶם אֶת עֹמֶר הַתְּנוּפָה שֶׁבַע שַׁבָּתוֹת תְּמִימֹת תִּהְיֶינָה.
15 And you shall count for yourselves from after the day of rest, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the waving; they will be seven complete weeks...
As we approach the Holiday of Shavuot and count the last days of Sefirat Ha'Omer (the counting of the Omer) that began almost seven full weeks ago, I would like to reflect on our own personal countdown. Seven weeks ago, our family was still waiting to receive our visas to move to Australia and at that time we were still living in Omer (Israel)! During that first week of Passover, while visiting family in North America, we received the news that our visas had been granted and we began counting down the days to moving to Melbourne, Australia -- in parallel to counting the days of the Omer. We arrived here in Australia just in time for the Holiday of Shavuot after counting seven weeks. O…

What Do You Do When It Just Gets Old? Parshat (Behar) Behukotai

ויקרא כו:י וַאֲכַלְתֶּם יָשָׁן נוֹשָׁן וְיָשָׁן... Leviticus You shall eat old grain long stored... 

How do we deal with the  despair that we feel when things just "get old" and we begin to lose our passion for what we are doing? Perhaps you chose a career that at first made you jump out of bed in the morning but years later, you can barely muster the energy to put on your shoes! You loved what you were doing and had great hopes for changing the world. But years later, you lost that passion. Does this loss of passion come from the mere boredom of pure repetition or is there something else getting us down? 
My father retired from his law practice after thirty years, as it happens he went back to working as a pharmacist after that. When I asked him why he was hanging up the towel, he simply responded-"I just don't have the fire in my belly for practicing law any more". Did my Dad just get tired of doing the same old thing? Heavens no! He spent thirty years trying to r…

A Spiritual Defect...Moom--Parshat Emor

Leviticus 21:21
כָּל־אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ מוּם מִזֶּרַע אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן לֹא יִגַּשׁ לְהַקְרִיב אֶת־אִשֵּׁי יְהוָה מוּם בּוֹ אֵת לֶחֶם אֱלֹהָיו לֹא יִגַּשׁ לְהַקְרִיב׃
No man among the offspring of Aaron the priest who has a defect shall be qualified to offer the LORD’s offering by fire; having a defect, he shall not be qualified to offer the food of his God.
It might seem strange that according to the Torah a person who has a physical defect is disqualified from serving God in holiness. After all, God created all of us with our so-called physical imperfections, right? 
How can we explain this?
The following commentary by Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra (biblical commentator 1089-1167) helps us to see this in a light that takes us beyond the literal understanding of a "defect"  being a purely physical manifestation.
אבו עזרא וטעם מום בו. כמו אביו ואמו קלל:
The reason there is a defect in him. For example, he cursed his mother or his father.
The commentary ab…

Rabbi Raysh Weiss

This is Rabbi Yonatan and Shalom from Chicago,

This week at the World Rabbinical Association Convention I am posting two short drashot by my colleagues (and cousins); Rabbis Jonah Rank and Raysh Weiss (who happen to be married). Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom from the Windy City!

Rabbi Jonah Rank

This is Rabbi Yonatan and Shalom from Chicago,

This week at the World Rabbinical Association Convention I am posting two short drashot by my colleagues (and cousins); Rabbis Jonah Rank and Raysh Weiss (who happen to be married). Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom from the Windy City!

A Message from Merav and Rabbi Yonatan on Israel's 70th Anniversary Celebration

Remembering the heroes...bringing them with us into our historic 70 year celebration since the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

Yom Ha'atzmaut Sameach everyone!

Yom Hashoah Thought from Whitwell Paperclip Museum


Moadim L'simcha! Happy Passover...Greetings from Chattanooga TN!

Moadim L'simcha and Happy Passover everyone! A few thoughts coming into the final days of the Holiday...

B'vracha Rabbi Yonatan

Click below to see the video:

Passover Blog Post 5778 M'arat Hamachpela


Torah Inspiration from Jerusalem Rabbi Yonatan Parshat Tzav 5778

Shalom from Rabbi Yonatan! This week the video D'var Torah was  shot at Yemin Moshe,

the first Jewish neighborhood built outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem in 1860, on a hill directly across from Mount Zion.

This week we read Parshat Tzav;  [beginning of Leviticus chapter 6]. This week is also Shabbat HaGadol! The "Great Shabbat" that precedes the holiday of Passover. Traditionally a long sermon is given in the afternoon of this Shabbat to discuss the halakhot (laws) relating to the upcoming festival. There is even a tradition to begin reading the Haggadah on this Shabbat afternoon!
For those of you who are interested in reading the Torah texts that I mentioned or quoted in the video, I have included them below!
Shabbat Shalom! Rabbi Yonatan

Leviticus chapter 6
1  And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2  Command Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the Torah of the burnt offering; It is the burnt offe…

Torah Inspiration From Kornmehl Goat Farm, Israel from Rabbi Yonatan Parshat Vayikrah 5778

Shalom from Rabbi Yonatan. This week I chose to present you with a short video Torah thought rather than a long written blog. Merav, my beautiful and brilliant spouse, shot this at the Kornmehl Goat Farm near Sde Boker in the Negev desert of Israel. (I inadvertently said Sderot in the clip, but definitely meant Sde Boker!) This place is very special and you would have to know that it exists in order to find it! It barely has a sign on the road blending into the desert landscape and you have to do some off-road driving to make it up the hill to arrive at this quaint little spot. The highlight is the little restaurant and cheese/dairy shop on the extremely isolated desert hill. I recommend their incredible goat cheese pizza, which they make from their very own goats! (all of their dairy products are hormone and antibiotic-free)

Photo Gallery from the Kornmehl Goat Farm

For those of you who enjoy my normal text study, I have included the Torah texts and commentaries that I mention or was i…

Shabbat Parah! Good-bye Useless Guilt!

Holy Cow!  It's Shabbat Parah! Ridding Ourselves of Useless Guilt
Parshiot: Shemot, Vayakhel/Pekudei Maftir: (Bamidbar/Numbers 19 (1-22) Haftarah: Ezekiel 36 (16-38) (16-36 for Sefardim)
Do you suffer from pangs of guilt or shame? Do even really old memories bog you down and leave you feeling guilty or ashamed? What can you do about it? First, we all need to realize that nursing our "regrets" and being stuck in a place of guilt or shame stands in our way of serving our holy purpose in this world and that untreated guilt or shame continually works to extinguish the holy spark in our neshama (soul). You probably think that Rabbi Yonatan forgot what time of year this is, sounds like a homily for Yom Kippur! But don't forget that according to the Torah, the first month of the year (Rosh Hashanah) is only about a week away! It is what we now call the Hebrew month of Nissan, the month of Passover, the month of Spring (in Israel) and a time of new beginnings. As it is written: ״I…