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Rabbi's Weekly Message

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Perashat Ki Tabo 5779

Friday, September 20, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

Imagine working in a world where there was no air-conditioned office. A world where there was no subway to get to work or a set contract which gave you a sense of security. All there was was you. And a shovel. And if you were lucky, a bull to pull your plow. Could you imagine then, after the blood, sweat, and tears, the digging, plowing, planting, fertilizing, watering and harvesting, how good it must have felt to bite into that first delicious ripe fruit? The sweet feeling of success, of accomplishment and perseverance that must have accompanied that first bite, is hard to fully comprehend in our world. Imagine. I made this. Me! From beginning to end. And then the Torah asks me to give that very fruit, the FIRST one, to Hashem. It's interesting to note the wording of the pasuk as this man hands over his hard-earned goods. The pasuk says, וְעָנִיתָ וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי ה' אלוקך , literally translated as, "and you will answer and you will say before Hashem your G-d." He then goes on to recount the history of the Jewish people almost from its inception, the trickery and malice of Lavan, the descent into Egypt and our subsequent slavery. But then G-d took us out with great miracles and fanfare and brought us to Israel and gave us the land of Israel which is flowing with milk and honey. ​ It seems as if each and every Jew is obligated to say this account, ostensibly to explain why he is giving away his very first fruits. But there is a tremendous lesson we are being taught here in the subtle subtext of the pasuk.

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Perashat Ki Tesse 5779

Friday, September 13, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

I love the New York Giants! Right now that might make me seem like a glutton for punishment. Our team was the worst in the league last year, and we don't seem to have far better prospects this season, even if, as a fan, I am obligated by some unwritten code to remain illogically and wistfully hopeful.

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Perashat Shofetim 5779

Friday, September 06, 2019 Author: Rabbo Shlomo Farhi

Losers usually cry. Marcin Dzienski is a 26-year-old athlete. His recent stunning victory left many astonished. His opponent had no tears to shed in the humiliating loss, because his opponent in this thrilling race was an ELEVATOR. The Polish climbing champion raced the elevator six flights and won in 12.12 seconds! Marcin, a 2016 world champion climber, began his journey "to the top" many years ago as a child when he would climb the apple trees in his grandfather's orchard. That childhood pastime has become his ticket to fame and fortune. I haven't asked, but I'll bet Marcin has a favorite missvah in this week's perasha. Care to guess which?

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Perashat Beha'alotekha 5779

Friday, June 21, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

Whiners. There's one in every family. If you can't find the one in your family, it might just be you! וַיְהִ֤י הָעָם֙ כְּמִתְאֹ֣נְנִ֔ים רַ֖ע בְּאָזְנֵ֣י ה וַיִּשְׁמַ֤ע ה וַיִּ֣חַר אַפּ֔וֹ And the people were like complainers, speaking evil in the ears of Hashem. And Hashem heard and was angered. The commentators point out that of the many times the Jews complained in the desert this verse is unique. ...

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Perashat Nasso 5779

Friday, June 14, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

It is a week of the underdogs. The Stanley Cup went to a team that had never won in its 52-year history, as the St. Louis Blues defeated the Boston Bruins. Game six of the NBA Finals was a nail biter down to the last fractions of a second, but in the end, the Toronto Raptors, who had never been to the finals, defeated the Golden State Warriors, the franchise of the decade, for the championship. I want to shine a light on one weird little fact about the Raptors' victory. Of all six games it took to declare Toronto king, all but the first game was won by teams AWAY from home! The Warriors ONLY won in Toronto while the Raptors won three of their four defeats in Oakland! Home court advantage over a period of ten years has shown itself to be nearly 80%! What happened?...

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Shabuot 5779

Friday, June 07, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

There is a great and often overlooked power to the holiday of Shabuot. We know it as the celebration of the receiving of the Torah which is no doubt true, but I'd like to explore Shabuot by approaching it through a different angle, offering an amplified depth of understanding of this awesome day. Our rabbis teach us that each and every holiday doesn't only live in the past, but they also resonate in our present and carry within them the energy force that was implanted in them in their first occurrence. Pesah carries within it a great and latent power of freedom. As the day that liberated our people in history, it then became that day in our Hebrew calendar which made it a fortuitous time for that specific achievement for all of eternity. Thousands of years later, we continue to have the chance to use the days of Pesah to become free once again, not only from Egypt but from all things that constrain us. Shabuot, by extension, is a day where we can acquire a new and relevant acceptance of Torah, morality, self-sacrifice and human excellence, a renewed receiving of the Torah of sorts. But, I think there is something else that doesn't get the press time that it should. ...

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Perashat Behukotay 5779

Friday, May 31, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

It was a record breaking week. 3 new world records were set, and no one could care less. Yes, a woman held a plank for 4 hours and 20 minutes, and yes, a man who is definitely very unpopular at birthday parties popped 200 balloons with a nail in 14.77 seconds. But both of those Guinness Book of World Records pale in comparison to the earth-shattering news that for the first time, a man spun a cushion on his finger for 18 minutes and 14 seconds. Life will never be the same. People train for these things. They work really hard to be recognized and seen. But in the end, what are they being recognized for? Yes they are the best, in the whole world, but at what? The beginning of the perasha talks about blessings. ...

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Perashat Behar 5779

Friday, May 24, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

Our Perasha this week is all about resting, but it is not just the regular resting of Shabbat. The same way we have Shabbat every seven days, the land has Shabbat every seven years. It is kind of like dog years, where each human year is equal to seven years for Spot. So too, each DAY in the human cycle of Shabbat is equivalent to one YEAR in the land's cycle of Shabbat. Six days of work is six years of work for the land, and the one day of Shabbat equates to one year of Shemitta Shabbat...

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Perashat Emor 5779

Friday, May 17, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

Mashiach must be around the corner. The Talmud (Sotah 49) tells us that בעקבות משיחא חוצפא יסגא, that in the time of Mashiach, Chutzpa, or insolence, will rise up. In that time נערים פני זקנים ילבינו, the young will humiliate the old. Now I've seen this teaching before, but never has it resonated with me as much as this week. ...

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Perashat Kedoshim 5779

Friday, May 10, 2019 Author: Rabbi Shlomo Farhi

Omaha, Nebraska has a pothole problem. And a pothole blessing. Since the beginning of April, the city has repaired more than 13,000 potholes. Thank God it wasn't 13,001. I read this story and was amazed. An ambulance was flying down the streets of Gretna, outside of Omaha, en route to Lakeside Hospital. The patient's heart rate was worryingly high. That was until they hit pothole number 13,001. Suddenly his heart rate plummeted back down to normal. Apparently, patients who suffer from super ventricular tachycardia develop an accelerated heart rate. It can be caused by a defective electrical system in the heart, medication, or stimulants. And sometimes, if the patient gets jolted or shocked, it can reset the heart to its normal rate. The truth is actually stranger than fiction. It is not just the unlikelihood of the occurrence that struck me, it was the perception. ...

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