September 26, 2018

Rosner’s Torah Talk: Parshat Shelach with rabbi Benji Stanley

Our guest this week is rabbi Benji Stanley, the Rabbi of Westminster Synagogue, an independent shul in the middle of London. He is passionate about getting  stuck into texts and has taught and helped to build the Limmud Bet Midrash, Open Talmud Project, Kehilat Kentish, and Willesden Minyan. He is married to Rabbi Leah Jordan.

This week’s Torah Portion- Parashat Shelach (Numbers 13:1- 15:41)- features the famous story of the twelve spies sent to examine the land of Canaan. It tells about how the people of Israel cry and grumble against Moses and Aaron, asking to go back to Egypt, and about God’s declaration that they will spend 40 years in the wilderness. The parasha ends with a set of commandments concerning offerings to God and with a curious story about a man who is stoned for picking up sticks on Shabbat. Our discussion focuses on the character of Joshua as a model for leadership development and as an example of our ability to change and improve ourselves.

 

 

Previous Torah Talks on this parsha:

Rabbi Michael Melchior

Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz

Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin

Rabbi Shana Mackler

Rabbi Marci Bellows

 

For the Kids

We Are All Kings

We are told in parshat Shelach to wear tzitzit, a fringed garment. This is so central to Jewish identity, that the white-and-blue tallit became the model for the Israeli flag. Wearing fringes on the edge of your garment was, in ancient times, a sign that you came from nobility. So, why are the Jews instructed to do this?

Everyone wears certain clothes based on where they are going or what they are doing, such as going to school, temple, parties or the beach. Jews who wear tzitzit always remember that they are like the holy priests, always striving to act like noble and generous kings and always remembering their relationship with God. You, too, can wear or imagine yourself wearing the holy fringes.

Over the next few weeks, we will be publishing essays and poems by children who won the San Fernando Valley fifth-grade writing contest. The theme of the contest was: My Special Friend. Awards were given out on Sun., May 25, at the Encino Community Center, by the California Writers’ Club. Here are a few excepts of a third-place essay by Jacob Rooks, 10, of Woodland Hills.

Happy, My Imaginary Stuffed Dog
Friend

My stuffed dog, Happy, is always going on adventures with me. For example, I remember the time Happy and I went to Shambam Waterfall (which is really the back of my bed). He almost fell off, but made it back in the end. Another time, we went to Hinkytwink Forest (which is under my bed). Cocoa Volcano is located near my night table and the Himper Pits are in front of my bed.

Happy is happy, energetic and playful. Sometimes, Happy gets lonely when I’m at school. Recently, I bought a stuffed tiger that I named Hobbes. Now Happy has someone to play with.

How did I get Happy? The neighbors gave him to me after their dog bit me! So now I have my very own dog, and he doesn’t bite!

I want to tell you what happened at Shambam Waterfall. We decided to visit the waterfall because the other stuffed animals said it was really pretty. Happy wanted to climb it. At first I said no, but in the end he talked me into letting him climb. When he got about halfway up, he found a cave behind the fall, where he sat for a few minutes. The he climbed all the way to the top. He tripped on a rock and fell, but I caught him.

I hope that soon Happy and I will go on another adventure!

Creating a Picture of Unity

Here is something exciting for all of us to participate in:

The Jewish Dream Network (JDN) would like Jewish children worldwide to send in Prayers for Peace, accompanied by a digital photo of themselves. These will become part of a photo mosaic, which will be sent to the Western Wall next Chanukah. It will also be housed online and reproduced as posters and cards. Tobey Herzog, founder of JDN, says that “this is a way to create a picture that shows that we [Jews] are a family, and we take care of one another.”

Please send your prayers and photos to: tobey@jewishdreamnetwork.org .

Parshat Shelach

Moses sends out 12 spies to check out the Land of Israel. When they come back, two of them say: “It’ll be a challenge to conquer, but it’s real beautiful there, and worth it!” The other 10 say: “Uh uh, no way. The people who live there are giants. We might as well go back to Egypt, rather than trying to enter this land.” You can look at the cup and see it half-empty or half-full. Think of a time when you tried to do something new. Did you give up in the middle because it seemed too hard? Or did you persist until you could snowboard down that mountain, do long division or play that piano piece?