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Victor Hugo and Tzaraat

04/21/2020 07:20:57 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

I recently read that when Victor Hugo wanted to learn how Les Miserables was selling, he telegraphed his publisher a message consisting only of this: ?.

His publisher knew exactly what Hugo wanted to know, so he replied just as tersely:  !

In other words, Les Miserables was selling well!

Interesting that Hugo, a man of many words refrained from...Read more...

The Comfortable Sameness of This Passover

04/12/2020 02:01:52 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,


We have all expressed with bewilderment how this night will be really, really different from other Passover nights. 

While we note the disruptive difference of this season, I would like to emphasize the comfortable sameness of this time as well. 

The moon is full on...

Causes To Celebrate

03/27/2020 05:15:39 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We do have cause to celebrate! Sure, we are enduring a global pandemic. Yes, the economy has taken a major hit. Of course, we are deprived of the physical closeness to family and friends which is so important to human beings.

We celebrate nonetheless, for we marvel at the human capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. This includes us. We at EHNTJC have adroitly transitioned to virtual classes, services and...Read more...

Coronavirus Message

03/08/2020 01:49:23 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,


Uncertainty prevails in the book of Esther, the biblical story that gives us the holiday of Purim. The Jews of Persia feel events are beyond their control. Ultimately, though, they gain control of the situation, and all ends well.

We too face a measure of uncertainty as we face this coronavirus, also...Read more...

The Wise King of Nineveh

02/06/2020 05:28:11 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,


An Egyptian stands at the edge of the sea, watching his countrymen drown in its waters. He grieves for the dead firstborn, including in his own family.

He hears the Israelites singing. “Mi chamocha ba’elim, Adonai? Who is like you among the gods, Eternal God?” And this Egyptian, nurtured in the...Read more...

Complicated Lives of our Biblical Forebears

12/05/2019 08:27:04 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Va'Yetzei, this week's Torah portion, presents a challenging passage concerning intense sisterly rivalry, one woman's sense of self vis a vis her husband, and the subservient status of another woman. 

Rachel is in extreme distress for not bearing a child. “When Rachel saw she had borne Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister and she said to Jacob, ‘Give me children or else I will die'” (Gen....Read more...

Respecting Boundaries

09/06/2019 04:37:58 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

An interesting mitzvah about boundaries appears in this week's Torah portion, Shoftim. “You shall not remove your neighbor's landmark” (Deuteronomy 19:14). The Hebrew term is “hasagat gevul,” crossing a boundary. In other words, do not encroach on another's property. 

This mitzvah (commandment) can be applied to our own personal relationships. We must respect others' boundaries (“your neighbor's...Read more...

Magen David Adom

08/16/2019 08:30:22 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

I am excited to announce that EHNTJC will host the dedication of a new ambulance for Israel's rescue service, Magen David Adom, next Wednesday, August 21, at 6:30 pm. This dedication is special, as it is dedicated to the memory of a lone soldier who died while serving with the IDF several years ago. 

Magen David Adom abides by its principle to provide emergency services to all, regardless of religion or...Read more...

Fear Not – Strive To Be Happy

07/11/2019 10:17:56 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The Israelites seems to have perfected the art of complaining. In this week’s Torah portion, Hukkat, we find the Israelites STILL complaining. 

It was one thing for them to complain when they were newly freed slaves, for sudden freedom can be jarring and daunting. 

But now decades have passed. These complaining Israelites are not weak slaves. No, these were relatively young Israelites, strong...Read more...

Talk in the Wilderness — Then and Now

06/26/2019 10:19:53 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Reckless talk abounds during the Israelites’ long slog through the desert. In last week’s Torah portion, Miriam slandered her brother Moses. This week, in Shelach Lecha, the scouts publicly express fear of the Promised Land, causing a destructive grumbling campaign. Next week, Korach et al will publicly challenge the divinely-ordained leadership of Moses and Aaron.

A reckless – if calculated – use of...

They Are Human Beings

06/26/2019 10:19:37 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

My family and I recently engaged in an interesting conversation about immigrants. It is wrong, my daughter Ruthie asserted, to refer to any human being as illegal.

I suggested to her that the word merely describes reality, that people who come to this country through a porous border have, in fact, acted illegally, as have those who overstay their visas. Illegalsare those who have acted...Read more...

Blessing Of The Animals

05/27/2019 10:47:58 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Whereas in the Book of Genesis the animals of the land, sea and sky were created prior to the creation of human beings;

And whereas each species of these animals entered Noah’s Ark – two by two – and were thus saved from the great flood. (This no doubt included Labradoodles.)

And whereas in the Book Numbers a wise talking donkey scolded his abusive rider, who happened to be a prophet;

And...

Seder Night in London

04/23/2019 10:47:56 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

When we sat down at our seder tables recently, we took a break from the hectic secular world. 

Israel Zangwill (1864-1926), British Jewish writer and Zionist, captured the dichotomy of the world out thereand our ancient Passover rite in his poem “Seder Night in London.”

Zangwill’s poem is a sonnet: 14 lines in iambic pentameter (ten syllables), often with a thematic break after line eight....Read more...

Learning Opportunity -- Talmud and the Afterlife!

04/16/2019 10:47:54 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

As we anticipate Passover and our courses of chametz-free meals, we might also happily anticipate meals and courses of a different sort, namely the “dessert” of our Talmud at the Table class. This final series of Talmud at the Table will be “Afterlife in Talmud.” Tasty as an afikomen! 

I have been working with our friend and teacher Rabbi Yehoshua Karsh of the Avner Torah Learning Center to plan...Read more...

Olam Hafuch – An Upside-Down World

03/14/2019 10:47:52 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Purim reminds us that we live in an olam hafuch, an upside-down world. To wit, in the book of Esther Mordecai rises to the position occupied by Haman, while Haman hangs from the gallows built for Mordecai, and the doom decreed for the Persian Jews is visited upon their enemies.  

On Purim we embody this upside-down world. Men dressing as women! Students teasing their teachers! Wild revelry...Read more...

Where Prayers Are Accepted, Where Love Abides

02/27/2019 10:47:50 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We have been experiencing a wonderful example of textual convergence, as both the weekly Torah portions and our readings in the Land Beyond Torah class describe our people’s most holy building projects.

On recent Shabbat mornings, we have been reading about the building of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary our biblical forebears constructed in the desert. Meanwhile in Land Beyond Torah (Thursdays, 11 am) we...Read more...

Koleinu Together

02/22/2019 10:47:48 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

One of my Koleinu band mates and I were talking this week, excited about our upcoming Koleinu service on March 8th. We both agreed that we would benefit from the spiritual uplift, camaraderie, sense of community, and just plain fun that the Koleinu service delivers each month. 

Aren’t we all in need of some of that by the time Friday evening rolls around? Let’s create Shabbat ruach/spirit and uplift for...Read more...

Communal Joy

01/31/2019 10:47:45 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

This week’s Torah portion, Mishpatim, includes a host of laws written in the singular. “You (singular) must not oppress a stranger,” (Exodus 22, 20), for instance, and “You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk,” (Exodus 23, 19), and so on. 

YetMishpatimalso describes our essential nature in the plural – “A holy people you will be to Me” (Exodus 22, 30). 

Judaism is a...

The Wisdom Of Solomon

12/20/2018 10:47:43 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

wisdom. His wisdom was "superhuman" because G-d poured it into him. This great divine gift endowed Solomon with an enormous breadth of knowledge and, according to our commentaries, the ability to apply one area of knowledge to another, to synthesize ideas and, of course, to solve seemingly intractable problems.

But Solomon possessed another quality that increased his wisdom even more. Our sages teach that Solomon...Read more...

Door Bolts and Menorahs

12/10/2018 10:47:41 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The Assyrian Greeks commanded the Jews, “Inscribe on the bolts of your doors, ‘I have neither portion nor heritage in the G-d of Israel!’” So the Jews pulled the bolts from their doors. They then commanded the Jews, “Write on the horns of your oxen, ‘I have neither portion nor heritage in the G-d of Israel!’” So the Jews sold their oxen.

This story – from a collection of ancient midrashim about...Read more...

Thanksgiving Thought

11/21/2018 10:47:39 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Once again, Jacob has left the past behind. In Va'Yishlach, this week's Torah portion, twenty years after leaving Canaan for Haran, Jacob leaves Haran for Canaan, the land of his birth. On his way back home, before crossing the Jabbok River, Jacob must wrestle with a man. This man's identity is not clear to Jacob. Perhaps he believes the man is a river demon, a common motif in ancient literature. Jacob soon learns,...Read more...

After Pittsburgh: Shaken, Unbroken

11/01/2018 10:47:36 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We have experienced a tragedy. Eleven innocent human beings killed for being Jewish. This has been a convulsive tragedy for our community. 

We are shaken, yes, but we are not surprised, for antisemitism in America is on the rise -- a 57 percent increase in reported antisemitic events last year, according to the Anti-Defamation League. We are also not surprised because we are uneasily aware of that narrow...Read more...

Goldie At 100

08/24/2018 10:47:34 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The wise Abraham Joshua Heschel did not live to a ripe old age. He passed away in 1972 at 65 years old. Yet, wisdom does not necessarily depend on direct personal experience. It is born as well from a thoughtful, sensitive mind.

Heschel employed that sensitivity in his article To Grow in Wisdom. “The years of old age,” he wrote, “[are] rich in possibilities to unlearn the follies off a lifetime, to see...Read more...

Haters, Stop Hating!

07/24/2018 10:47:32 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We have begun the month of Av. It is painful month because tradition holds that major calamities occurred on the Ninth of Av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. 

The destruction of the Second Temple pains us the most. Why? Because we did it to ourselves. Yes, the Romans did the actual destroying, but our tradition is clear; our sinat chinam, our baseless hatred toward each other, really caused the...Read more...

May Salvation Arise For Our Leaders

07/24/2018 10:47:30 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Aaron has died. Miriam has died. Moses too will die before his people enter the Promised Land. In Pinchas, this week's Torah portion, G-d commands Moses to stand Joshua before the entire community and instill into the younger man some of Moses’s own spiritual authority. Earlier in the portion, Moses stands before the community with Pinchas himself, who eventually would become High Priest. For the Israelite people, new...Read more...

Al Talmideihon – For Their Students

07/03/2018 10:47:28 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

In our final Land Beyond Torah class of the year, we completed the book of Second Samuel. As is customary upon the completion of a sacred text, our class of about 30 rose to recite Kaddish d’Rabbanan, the “Rabbi’s Kaddish.” 

This Kaddish – in Aramaic, like all Kaddishes– beseeches G-d to bestow blessings upon teachers of Torah and upon their students. “Al rabbanan,” we intone,...Read more...

Men's Club Shabbat & The Ruebner Torah

06/15/2018 10:47:26 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We are all excited for our Men's Club to lead our Shabbat morning services this Saturday, once again on Father’s Day weekend, just as our Sisterhood so ably led last month on Mother’s Day weekend.

Removing the Torah from the Ark is, for me, the heart and highlight of our services. The Torah tells the Jewish story, part one. That dramatic story continues with the admonitions of the prophets and the wisdom...Read more...

No Defect? No Way!

05/05/2018 10:47:25 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Not all priests of ancient Israel were created equal. If a priest was born with a defect – or if he (yes, always a “he”) developed a defect through accident or illness – he would not be permitted to function as a priest at the Temple. Note this week’s Torah portion, Emor.

כָּל־אִ֞ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־בּ֣וֹ מ֗וּם מִזֶּ֙רַע֙ אַהֲרֹ֣ן הַכֹּהֵ֔ן לֹ֣א...

Statement of Gun Violence / Niles Township Clergy Forum

04/26/2018 10:47:23 AM


Rabbi Weill

Statement on Gun Violence


We, the undersigned members of the Niles Township Clergy Forum, believing in the sacred value of each human life, abhor the gun violence that has killed so many innocent people throughout our land.

In October we were shocked by the carnage in Las Vegas, the worst mass shooting in American history. Little more than one month later we were shocked again, this time by the murder of 26...Read more...

Filipino Koleinu

04/18/2018 10:47:21 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Many Jews speak of being “cultural” Jews. What does that mean? Often it has much to do with food.  Bagels, lox, and cream cheese? Jewish. Chicken soup? Jewish.  Pastrami with mustard? Jewish. With mayo perhaps? Not so Jewish.

One can argue, though, that these delectables have virtually no connection to what it means to be Jewish. First of all, they are really from the Ashkenazic tradition....Read more...

Tue, August 3 2021 25 Av 5781