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Home » Messages from Rabbi Shaw

Messages from Rabbi Shaw


Rabbi David Shaw

Rabbi Shaw Messages

A message from Rabbi David Shaw

A message from Rebbetzin Renee Shaw

Dearest Ladies

Chodesh Tov!  I wish you all a blessed new month, good health and nachas from your loved ones.

Tonight and tomorrow night is Rosh Chodesh. This is considered a minor holiday for women, a celebration of sorts especially for us, and twelve times each year. It was designated as amini festival for women, as their reward for their righteousness and loyalty to G-d,  in having not contributed in any way, anything towards the construction of the golden calf, one of the worst episodes in all Jewish memory.  There is an additional reason for the reward in that because when women immerse themselves in a Mikvah each month and endear themselves to their husbands, they are symbolically spiritually and physically renewed, just as the moon is in its monthly cycle of waxing and waning.

Celebrating Rosh Chodesh is an easy and fun Mitzvah, in which we women play a way more significant role than do the men.

I love Rosh Chodesh, it’s one of my favourites, It is our custom for us women to dress a little smarter, to refrain from mundane work (yes household chores are mundane enough to qualify!) and to make an extra special dinner or in fact any meal we share with family and friends. When Rosh Chodesh coincides with Shabbos, one should add an additional something special, a delicacy or treat to your menu, some dish your family will enjoy in honour of Rosh Chodesh.

If any of you special ladies, no matter what age or stage you are in life would care to have a refreshing Mikvah experience or would like to find out some more about it please call me or Lynda Romain. Please save my number on your phone for this or anything I can do for you. My number is 071 3579607. Linda’s number is 083 2668149.

On Rosh Chodesh there is great merit in saying Psalm 104, Barchi Nafshi, Bless Hashem, O my soul…( Artscroll pg 172) . The theme of this Psalm is Hashem’s mastery over all creation. A good thought to begin the new month.

Best wishes always and hope you have a fine Rosh Chodesh and month ahead.

Love to you all.

Renee Shaw

Hello from Rabbi Shaw

My Dear Chevra

This world, say our sages, is judged four times each year. On Pesach, for the crops. On Sukkot, for water. On Rosh Hashana, we are judged for life. And on Shavuot, we are judged for the fruit of the tree.

I heard once in the name of Rav Shach a quote in the name of those who long preceded him, that the festival of Shavuot is not merely an annual commemoration of the giving of the Torah but it is also the Rosh Hashana, yes for fruit, but also for Talmud Torah. It is literally the day of judgement regarding each individual’s stake in Torah, living, learning and knowing, in the new cycle, post the Chag.

Just as we pray on Rosh Hashana for a sweet, healthy and prosperous new year, we can pray for a good and sweet year of learning and growing. It is a good time to daven on the first day of Shavuot during the service and reading the Torah.

I have a tradition that because everyone was cured of any maladies at the giving of the Torah it is a really good time to offer prayers for those who need a refuah shelaima, as we relive that momentous moment just before the reading of the 10 commandments. The reading of the 10 commandments will take place on Sunday morning a little after 9am.

It is all in the notices but just to remind you to bring your children for the Kohanim’s blessing and Bikurim (Fruit Baskets) Procession on Sunday and again to be blessed on Monday morning.  Special Ladies Shiur at 10am with a Shiur called "12 Rules from Life - A guide for tomorrow" by me.

Yizkor on Monday morning at about 10:15am.

We welcome Bonang Mohale to our Shavuot dinner and Rabbi and Rebbetzin Pogrund. Rav Gideon is our special scholar in residence. I’m looking very forward to welcoming you too!

Prayer For Your Family

Shalom Uveracha! Peace and Blessing to you!

Rabbi Horowitz,  a 16th century kabbalist wrote that on the eve of the first day of the month of Sivan i.e. today it is a most auspicious time to pray for the physical and spiritual welfare of one's children and grandchildren, since the month of Sivan was the month that the Torah was given to the Jewish people. He composed a special prayer to be said on this day, known as the Tefillat HaShlah "the Shelah's Prayer".  In modern times, the custom of saying this prayer on the appointed day has become very popular with Jewish parents. While it may be recited anytime the best time is right now. May Hashem answer all our payers for good!

I am so looking forward to seeing you over Shavuot!

G d bless!

Rabbi David Shaw

Prayer of the Shelah Hakadosh

You are Hashem, our G-d, before You created the world and You are Hashem, our G-d, after Your created the world.
Forever and ever You are our G-d. You created Your world so that your divinity would be revealed through Your divine Torah, as our Sages said (may their memory be blessed): “Bereshit, in the beginning for the Torah and for Israel”

For they are Your people and Your inheritance which You chose above all people. And You gave them Your holy Torah and brought them close to Your great name.
Because of the creation of the world and the creation of the Torah we received from You, Hashem our G-d, two commandments:

You wrote in Your Torah: Be fruitful and multiply, and You wrote in Your Torah: And you shall teach them your children, and the meaning of both of them is one and the same.
You did not create the world in vain but to be inhabited, and for Your honor You created, You formed and You also made so that we, our children and the children of all Your people Israel will know Your Name and learn Your Torah.

Therefore, Hashem, King of kings of kings, I will come to You and will beg You, my eyes raised to You, to have compassion and hear my prayer and bestow on me sons and daughters that they shall too shall be fruitful and multiply, they, their children and their children’s children, until the end of all generations, so that they and I, and we all should engage in the study of Your holy Torah
to learn and teach, to guard, to do, and to fulfill all the words of study of Torah with love.

Enlighten our eyes to Your Torah and bring our hearts to cling to Your mitzvot, to love and fear Your Name. Our Father, merciful Father, grant us all long life endowed with blessings.
Who is like You, merciful Father who remembers His creatures and gives them life in Your compassion? Remember us for eternal life, as Avraham, our father, prayed: “that he may live before Thee.” And our Rabbis (may their memory be blessed) interpreted this as “ in fear of You.”

Therefore, I have come to ask and beg before You that my children and my children’s children shall be, eternally, worthy. That there shall not be in me or in my children or in my children’s children, for all time, anything unfitting. Only peace and truth, goodness and justice in the eyes of G-d and in the eyes of man.
May they be masters of Torah, masters of the written Law, masters of Mishna, masters of Talmud, masters of kabbala, masters of mitzvot, masters of chessed, masters of noble character,
and may they serve You with love and true fear, not with false fear. Grant each one of them all that he needs with honor, give them health, honor and strength, give them stature, beauty, grace and kindness. May there be love, brotherhood and peace between them. Bestow on them worthy spouses from the offspring of the “talmidei chahamim, students of the sages” and from the offspring of the “Tzaddikim, the righteous ones.” And may their spouses be like them in all that I have prayed for them, for they are all one for eternity.

You, Hashem, know all the secrets of the heart and before You is revealed all that is in my heart. For my purpose in all this is for the sake of Your great and holy Name and for Your holy Torah.
Therefore answer me, Hashem, answer me for the sake of our sacred fathers Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov and for them save the sons, that the branches shall resemble the roots.
And for David, your servant, the fourth wheel of the divine chariot, the poet who sang with divine inspiration: “Song of Degrees: fortunate are all who fear Hashem, who walk in His way.
The toil of your hands, you will eat the fruit thereof and it will bring happiness and be good for you. Your wife is like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons are like olive plants around your table. Behold, thus will be blessed the man who fears Hashem.

He will bless you, Hashem, from Zion. See in the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life. And see your sons of your sons; peace over Israel.”
Please, Hashem, who hears prayer fulfill in us the verse:“ As for me, this is my covenant with them, says Hashem, my spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, says Hashem, from henceforth and forever.”

May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart be favorable before You, Hashem, my rock and my savior.

Pesach Greetings

Shalom Uveracha

Here are 5 questions and answers for you for this Pesach.
1. Must all firstborn males fast on Erev Pesach? Answer: No! They may attend the Siyum after davening on Friday morning. 1 minyan at 7am, followed by the completion of a tractate of Talmud.
2. Will there be a Kiddush after services? Answer: Nope, not this year. You can go home early and spend quality time with your mishpacha!
3. Will there be a Shalosh Seudot on Shabbat after mincha? Answer: Yes!
4. Should we all ensure that we are in shul with our children and our children’s children to be blessed by our Kohanim each Yom Tov day? Answer: Absolutely yes!
5. When is Yizkor? Answer: On the 8th day of Pesach (Sunday the 8th April) at approximately 10:15am.
Please check this week’s” Kugel” for the exact times for candle lighting and services.

The very last words of the Haggadah are the Aramaic song, Chad Gadya. The Sfat Emet reveals to us that we repeat Chad Gadya, Chad Gadya over and over again because of the similarity of the words Chad Gadya to Chad Haggadah, One Haggadah. Go figure!
You see at the Seder when we are all with friends and family, each individual coming from a different place, each with their own thoughts, life experiences, and stories. Each travelling on separate paths. We need to know though that we all come from Egypt. One story! One beginning! One future. One Haggadah!
We may think that since we are all so different and we all come from so many disparate places we have no connection to one another. However, the Hagada reminds us at the very end when all is said and done, that all our all of stories are one story. Where we began and where we will end up. We are connected.
There are 15 stages in the Haggadah. This concept of unity and connectedness at the Pesach Seder is so vital that The Kotzker Rebbe linked each stage as follows
1. Kadeish, if one wants to be Holy, and
2. Urchatz, one wants to cleanse oneself, then
3. Karpas, one should abide by the rule alluded to by this word which is a mnemonic for Kal Rishon Pe Satum, the first principal being to keep ones mouth shut. However,
4. Yachatz- Maggid, if one has to say something; one should cut it in half and be concise in their language. Once one has attained this level,
5. Rachtza, if one wants to wash oneself further,
6. Motzi – Matza , one then needs to rid oneself of strife (another meaning of the word matza) and machloket because when there is disunity,
7. Marror _ Koreich, bitterness wraps itself around such machloket. If one succeeds in doing this, then,
8. Shulchan Oreich, one's table is set in this world, and
9. Tzafun, what is hidden in the next world,
10. Bariech , will be blessed as one will get there and say
11. Hallel so that
12. Nitza, they will be accepted by Hashem!
Renee and I wish you all dear dear Sandton congregants a Chag, Kasher Ve’samayach.

Warm Pesachdikeh Greetings

Rabbi David Shaw

Staff Collection

Dear Congregants

With the end of the year approaching swiftly , we are appealing to our congregation to again open their hearts and pockets and to ask you to
generously donate non-perishable food items that we can  distribute to our staff and security personal who are there for us always! All ways!

Please put a little (or large) parcel together and bring it to the Shul office.

It’s a good thing to do!

Chag Sameach - some handy tips for Sukkos

Shalom U’veracha

I want to say hello and to bless you all with a really good year.

I think that we are still on a high from the gorgeous services here at our Shul.  I’m not sure about you but I am definitely inspired and uplifted when praying together with many hundreds and sometimes even well over a thousand of our community in one place.

I am writing to invite and to encourage you, together with your whole family and friends, to join us for a sensational Sukkot experience.  Our Sukkah is by far  the largest communal Sukkah in Johannesburg.

Here is just a sample of some of the highlights:
1st Night Sukkot – 04 October
Candle lighting                    17h51
Mincha                                  17h50
Maariv  18h00 followed by Kiddush in the Sukka with Avron and our choir

Birkat Kohanim this week and next week Thursday and Friday morning is where our Kohanim bless the community, especially our children, under the largest Talis in the southern hemisphere

2nd Night Sukkot – 05 October
Candle lighting -     not before 18h51
Shabbat Chol Hamoed - candle lighting before  17h52 from an existing flame.

Enhance your life with G.R.A.C.E. 
Talk by Roslyn Basserabie- author of her new book “From my heart to yours”.
Tuesday 10th October at 19h30 in the Sandton Shul Sukka.

Hoshana Rabba on Wednesday morning at 5:45am

Shmini Atzeret is on the Wednesday the 11th October and on Thursday there will be Yizkor at approximately 10:00am. Simchat Torah follows on the 12th commencing at 18h15 and at 18h45 all the children who come to celebrate with us will receive the customary flag and chocolate – Join us for Hakafot, yummy hot dogs will be served in the foyer from 20h00.  Lots to eat!  LOTS TO DRINK!! Followed by a sing along... drink along Tish!

On Friday morning the Kohanim will bless us at approximately 08h45 during Shacharit.   All the children under the age of Barmitzvah will be called up to the Torah for the Kol Hanearim Aliyah.

The as yet, still secret Chatan Torah and Chatan Bereishit extend a special invitation to everyone to join us for our traditional Simchat Torah Braai where no-one goes hungry!!

A concise guide to help you navigate through Sukkot
Rabbi David Shaw

  1. Construction and decoration of your Sukka must be completed before Sukkot begins.
  2. The Four Species should be prepared and the myrtle (hadassim) and willow (aravot) branches should be tied to the lulav before the festival begins.
  3. Since Shabbat falls immediately after the first two days of Sukkot, each home must prepare an Eiruv Tavshilin to allow us to cook and light candles from an existing flame before Shabbat for Shabbat.  See Artscroll siddur page 654 for details
  4. We make two blessings on candle lighting on the 1st and 2nd night of Yomtov.  See the grey panel in the Artscroll siddur on page 296.
  5. In the Sukka we welcome the seven Holy Guests  ( Ushpizin) in  Artscroll page 720 followed by Kiddush at the bottom of page 722

I bless you and wish you a Happy and fulfilling Yom Tov!

G d bless

Gmar Chatima Tova

Gmar Chatima Tova
I hope your Yom Kippur experience with us will be meaningful and memorable. May Hashem forgive us and bless us with an altogether brilliant new year. May He answer all our prayers for good!
We abstain from 5 activities on Yom Kippur.
1 No eating
2 No Drinking
3 No Leather Shoes (Yes you may wear a leather belt or watch strap)
4 No anointing yourself with oil etc.
5 No Sexual intimacy
A few points to make your Yom Kippur more meaningful!

  • Say sorry to anyone you may have wronged.
  • Bless your spouse.
  • Bless your children.  Don’t rush. Nothing is as powerful as a parents blessing. (See the English text on page 33 in the Artscroll Machzor.)
  • Forgive your spouse.
  •  Forgive your children.
  • Give charity generously. What you give from you heart will come back to you manifold.
  • Don’t speak unnecessarily in Shul. Please!
  • Be physically and spiritually present in Shul. Men and Women. Come early and don’t leave till the end.
  • Talk to G-d. The confluence of Yom Kippur and Shabbat are a most potent holy combination.
  • Sing along! You know the melodies.
  • While it’s important to act properly between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, it is perhaps more important to act properly between Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashana.

Mincha Erev Shabbat is at 2:30pm.

The Fast Begins at Friday at 5:48pm

Kol Nidrei at 6pm

The End of the Fast is on Saturday night at 6:38pm


G-d bless you dear friends
I look forward to welcoming you HOME later!

Believing is not enough! We need to belong!”

Bullying is Never Ok!

Bullying is Never Ok! 

By Rabbi David Shaw


Every now and again, and again, I hear about an episode of bullying or of intimidation, or of mistreatment, maltreatment, oppression or victimization of some kind, somewhere.  I offer these words neither to the perpetrators nor sadly, to their victims. I am not absolving myself of responsibility to reforming the bullies nor of giving tools to the bullied to defend themselves because by the time I hear of it it’s almost always too late. In this short article, I would like to address all the bystanders. Oh! There are always lots of them. Those who witness something being done that is just blatantly wrong. Hurtful by action or even verbal, and who simply do nothing.

It was the late Eli Wiesel who said upon receiving the congressional gold medal of achievement at the White House in 1985 “In extreme situations when human lives and dignity are at stake, neutrality is a sin. The opposite of love, I have learned is not hate, but indifference. Jews were killed by the enemy but betrayed by their so- called allies, who found political reasons to justify their indifference or passivity.”

Bystanders, by definition can be as large as a nation or simply a lone individual or a couple of schoolmates or teammates who witness events and make the choice to ignore them. Here is a scary fact I came across by Professor Ervin Staub, that, motivated me to write this article. You know I am sure, that before the Shoah, almost no Germans protested the ill-treatment and intense persecution of Jews. The vast masses clearly co-operated with the Nazi’s, boycotting Jewish stores, breaking up relationships with Jewish friends and taking over their businesses, homes and jobs. It did not take long for so many of those who were initially passive bystanders to join, heart and soul with the most evil perpetrators, becoming perpetrators themselves of the most heinous deeds.

Bystanders, by doing nothing actually encourage the perpetrators. An extreme example of this is how the Nazi’s were actually surprised at the lack of response by the German public, to their initial acts of violence and intimidation against the Jews and their property. It spurred them on to greater viciousness. When the Community of Nations at the Evian conference refused to take in Jewish refugees from Europe and stood by, knowing all but doing nothing, Goebbels (Yemach Shemoh) recorded in his diary “the whole world wants to do to the Jews what the Germans were doing, but does not have the courage “

It works like that with nations, with groups, teams and learners in a school environment. In formal and in informal settings. And it is always the same. If your child simply stands by and watches another child bully someone, anyone, thinner, fatter, taller, shorter, smarter faster, slower, it is only a matter of time before the bystander become a bully themselves – and no one likes a bully! No one!

One of the most valuable life lessons that we can pass on to our children is that if they or their friends see someone bullying, speak up and speak out. Tell a responsible adult, a parent, teacher, madrich or yes even your Rabbi.

Bullying is not ok! Bullying is never ok!

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.*


The Torah says “You shall not stand idly by the blood of your neighbour. I am the Lord.” (Vayikra 19:16)


*Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

Encyclopaedia of Genocide


If we really understand the past Behaalotcha

Grow up not down!  

By Rabbi David Shaw

If we really understand the past, surely, we will be better equipped to understand the present and perhaps even the future.

The Torah informs us of the spiritually elevated and intellectually lofty level that our ancestors who left Egypt were able to reach. The generation that experienced the Exodus and the plethora of overwhelming miracles at the Red Sea and subsequently during the course of their 40-year sojourn in the desert, saw with their very own eyes all that G-d, our G-d, did on their behalf, transcending every known law of nature. In the light of what they experienced first-hand, it is altogether perplexing how quickly they fell from this pedestal of knowledge and how they segued into a bunch of cry-babies and super complainers. How puzzling it is how quickly this all occurred. From saints to sinners, from a nation whose hand maidens at the sea had a clearer and deeper understanding of G-d, even more so than the greatest of our prophets, greater than Ezekiel’s famous vision of G-d’s chariot and how He conducts Himself in this world.

In Beha’alotcha we find our familial precursors complaining bitterly and reminiscing selectively about the “good old days in Egypt”. Good old days!! What good old days?? Pinch me!! The Children of Israel were battered and bruised, starved, denied any human rights. Their children were   brutally murdered in cold blood by the cruellest of regimes in history. And yet, they rebel against Moshe and against Hashem Himself and recall the free fish (as if….) and cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. Its incredulous!

Rav Moshe Rosenstein, the late Mashgiach (Spiritual Head) of the great Lomza Yeshiva in pre-War Europe, explains how the Jewish people could fall so swiftly from being the most G d conscious and aware generation ever, to becoming a bunch of whining, snivelling, complaining rebels. They went from one extreme, to the other. From such heights to the lowest lows over such a short time.

His answer is marvellously deep and has ramifications for us all. All our leaders, prophets and sages, all achieved their elevated levels through extraordinarily hard toil and immense effort. True greatness does not come easily. Ever! They literally clawed their way up the ladder of success centimetre by centimetre. The exodus generation, suggests the Mashgiach, did attain, neither their prophecy nor their greatness through their own efforts. Majesty and greatness was, as it were, foisted on them instantaneously by Hashem, the people did nothing. Hashem infused them with this spiritual greatness Himself in order to lift them appropriately preparing them for the receiving of our Torah. It came easily, a gift from the Almighty’s own hand. The lesson is so clear. If one does not work for it, whatever “it” may be, one does not truly transform oneself neither completely nor permanently, and therefore the nation fell. And so, can we. Because they never worked for their greatness, the handmaidens remained handmaidens. All they had been vouchsafed to see, all the had experienced became blurred and so quickly forgotten and all they remembered was onions. There is simply no lasting growth without genuine effort.

Shabbat Shalom U’mevorach

The Laws of The Priestly Blessings

The laws of the Priestly Blessing – A summary by Rabbi David Shaw based on the Chayei Adam and the Kitzur Shulcan Aruch.


  1. It is a mitzvah from the Torah for Kohanim to bless the people. In Israel every

day but in the Diaspora only on the various Yomtovs and only in a Minyan.


  1. The Priest should not drink wine or any alcoholic beverage before going up to

bless the people.



  1. The Kohanim must remove their shoes and have a Levi pour water upon their hands until their wrists. If there is no Levi then a first-born son should pour the water.  If there is no Levi nor first-born the Kohein should wash his own hands and not have it done by a Yisrael.  The Levi should wash his hands before washing the Kohanim.


  1. When the Chazzan begins the prayer of Rezei, the Kohanim should go up to the Aron Hakodesh, they therefore should insure to have been washed by then.


  1. The Kohanim say the Modim de Rabbanan after which they say the Yehi Ratzon prayer while the chazan recites Vechol Hachayim.


May it be Your will, Hashem, our G-d and the G-d of our fathers that this blessing that you have commanded us us to  bestow upon Your people  Israel be a full blessing that there be in it neither stumbling block nor sin from now or forever ( Hebrew page 694 in the Artscroll siddur).


  1. The Kohanim should end this prayer together with the Chazzan in order that the congregations Amein will apply to their prayer as well.


  1. The Chazzan says Elokeinu Veilokei Avoteinu in an undertone except for the word Kohanim which is a call to the Kohanim to begin their blessings. The Chazzan says Am Kedoshechah Ka’amur in an undertone.



  1. The Kohanim now say the blessing” Baruch atah A-donai  E’loheinu melech

Ha’olam asher kidashanu bikdushato shel Aharon… and then turn towards the congregation and conclude the blessing… vetzivanu levareich et amo Yisrael be’ahavah to which the congregation answer Amein.  The Chazzan should not answer Amein.


  1. If there is only one Kohein the Chazzan does not call out the word Kohanim. The Kohein should turn by himself.


  1. The Kohanim should raise their hands to shoulder height and then spread their hands forward. Now separate their fingers so there should be five open spaces between them. Therefore between each two fingers there is one open space. There should be one open space between their thumb and index finger of both hands.  That makes four spaces and then the space between the two thumbs make five.  The right hand should be slightly above the left the right thumb above the left thumb but not touching and palms towards the ground the back of the hands raised towards Heaven.


  1. The Kohanim should not look around nor lose concentration. The congregation should face the Kohanim but not gaze at them nor should the Kohanim gaze at their own hands.  We cover ourselves with our talit as do the Kohanim.



  1. The congregation should not be behind the Kohanim but should be in front or even in front to the side.


  1. The Chazzan recites Birkat Kohanim word for word and the Kohanim repeat each word until they conclude the first verse to which both Chazzan and congregation respond, Amein. This applies to the second and third verses of the blessing as well.



  1. At the following words the Kohanim turn towards the right at Yeverechecha then left for veyisharechah, (to the right) eilechah (to the left) vi’chunekah (to the right) eilecha, (to the left) lecha, (to the left), shalom (to the right).


  1. On festivals that do not fall out on Shabbat, the congregation (not the Chazzan) say the Ribono shel olam paragraph before the last word in the bracha i.e. Veyishmareicha, vichonekah and shalom.



  1. Only the Kohanim sing the traditional Ai yai yai melody while congregation recite the Ribono shel Olam, but not on Shabbat.


  1. The Chazzan begins Sim Shalom and Kohanim turn to face the Aron Hakodesh and say Veyehi Ratzon found on page 698 and 700 ( English 699 and 701).



  1. Again the Kohanim should endeavour to end their Yehi Ratzon with the word Bashalom said by the Chazzan, in order for the congregation’s Amein to applies to both.


  1. The Kohanim always turn to the right.


  1. A mourner does not bless the people unless he is the only Kohein present.



Catching Up!  The week that was and the week that will be.

I am still on a high from last Shabbat’s unity Shabbos, unity Torah, El Al Ambassadors, the always outstanding Rabbi Amdurer, the service, Kiddush, panel discussion, yummy lunch, celebrating Josh Gordon’s 21st, with the largest whiskey bottle I have ever seen, and of course a luncheon celebrating Maish Preskow’s 7oth birthday and his 40 years in the choir, 36 as conductor.

This Shabbat after Kiddush, Chai FM’s popular and erudite Israel correspondent, Anthony Reich will address the community in the main Shul.  He is an expat South African who now lives in Ra’anana where he runs a hedge fund.  His topic is “The move of the USA Embassy to Jerusalem:  The facts and the fiction”.  I highly recommend that you join this conversation.  Anthony is here to celebrate his uncle and aunt, Mervyn and Dianne Mittel’s 50th wedding anniversary.  On behalf of all of us a huge Mazeltov to them.
Shabbos a fortnight… the 24th, we will be hosting a guest Chazan, Rabbi Phillip Heilbrunn, also an expat South African who is here for a 50th King David matric reunion which will be taking place right  here on campus.

On the following Shabbos (3 from tonight) the 4th of March, one of the stars of the Chief Rabbi’s  Sinai Indaba, Rabbi Reuven Leuchter will be our scholar in residence.  I know that you will love him and his innovative approach to growth and spirituality.  I will let you know more details closer to the time.

Our  state of the art  Mikveh is open again. Please daven for rain so we can fill up the the Keilim Mikveh.

Please let us know if you know of anyone in need of our prayers for a Refuah Shlaima.

Renovations to the upstairs Shul are on track. Please G-d they will be  complete in the next few weeks.

Please check out our website  for the latest news, forthcoming Yahrzeits, shiurim by Rabbi Treger and a sound-byte with a proper pronunciation for mourners Kaddish.

This week we read Parshat Yitro which contains the Ten Commandments (not suggestions hey!).  Yitro is the smallest Sedra in the entire book of Shemot.  There are 620 letters in the Ten Commandments 68 are the letter Aleph and there is not one letter Tet.  If you know why, please let me know.  It is interesting that there is not one single new idea in all the Ten Commandments.

Surely we know not to take G-d’s name in vain, to honour parents, not to murder, not to steal etc… so why the big deal?  The reason is because we don’t keep them because they make good sense to us or that they are logical. Really, we should keep them because they are from G-d. We observe them because that is what G-d wants.

Looking forward to another special Shabbos in Sandton and hope to see you later!

Shabbat Shalom


P.S:   Purim is three weeks away and Pesach is seven!

A Special Shabbat

A Special Shabbat at  Sandton Shul


Sandton Shul hosted a very special Sefer Torah this last Shabbat, Parashat

Beshalach and Tu Bishvat as well as a dynamic group of EL AL ambassadors.


The Torah was written by an expert scribe and was inspired by an address by

the past President of Israel, Shimon Peres in the Bundestag, the German

Parliament in Berlin. The Chief of the Israeli Airforce General Eliezer

Shkedy was there together with a number of prominent Israelis while Mr Peres

addressed the parliament in Hebrew. He thought to himself, what could be

more symbolic than the head of State of Israel standing before the lawmakers

and the leaders of Germany, giving a speech in Hebrew, flanked by senior

military personal from the IDF, wearing berets with a Magen David, the Star

of David conspicuously displayed. All that was missing was a Sefer Torah.

Here in the least likely place in the entire world. The irony was palpable.

When he took over as the president of EL AL he set about to create a unique

Torah that would symbolise the unity of the Jewish people and our eternal

connection to the scroll, to our nation, uniting past, present and future

generations. Leading Rabbinical Sages, Nobel Prize winners, athletes,

members of the Knesset and thousands of Jews all over the globe, took part

in this ambitious project. The Torah was in fact written in so many

significant sites, both positive and negative for the Jewish nation. Letters

in this holy scroll were inscribed in the old city of Jerusalem, in the

Knesset, in Auschwitz, in the Wansee Villa, by Titus' arch in Rome and even

on the Great Wall of China. Thanks to Naomi Hadar and the IUA, EL AL flew

the Torah in a special case to Sandton Shul to join EL AL ambassadors on

this Shabbat who joined the community for a unity Shabbat, to spread

incredible goodwill and positive stories of the Holy Land. The exquisite

mantel of this Torah was designed by acclaimed artist Yaacov Agam.


The Community celebrated with a scrumptious Kiddush and shared this special

occasion with Josh Gordons 21st and the kehillah honoured Maish Preskow's on

his 70th birthday and  his 40th year in the Sandton Choir with a sit down

summer cholent luncheon.


Hinei Matov Umanayim Shevet Achim Gam Yachad.


How wonderful to sit together in celebrating this wonderful confluence of

all these most special smachot in this place at this time.


Rabbi David Shaw


Shalom U’veracha

Veyechi, unlike any other Parsha in all of the Torah begins punkt in the middle of a column directly after last week’s reading with no break at all.  Usually a break between paragraphs in the Torah is an indication of where, when G-d dictated the Torah to Moshe, Moshe stopped to intellectually digest what Hashem had just told him.  Here, our sages explain that this lack of a break is symbolic of a lack of perception or understanding of what was about to unfold for the Jewish people in Egypt in the wake of Jacob’s death.

There are 85 verses in Vayechi, making it the shortest of all the Sedras in the Book of Genesis.   While Genesis comprises about 26 per cent of all the verses in the Torah, it contains only three of the 613 mitzvot, less than half a percent of the Torah.

Even though the portion is short, it contains some power concepts.  Jacob’s blessings to his children and grandchildren, (words which we still use today to bless our own kids on each Shabbat).  You can find the blessing on page 354 in the Artscroll siddur. Jacob dies and is buries in the cave in Hebron and 147 years old.  Joseph dies at 110, after prophesising that G-d himself will take his descendants out of Egypt.

At the end of the reading we say chazak, chazak venitchazeik! Be strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened!  The word chazak is said three times and is then repeated by the Ba’al Koreh. We pray for strength.  We were strong in the past!  We are strong in the present! And if we remain a “WE” in other words, if we are united, concerned for each other and together in our service of G-d, we will be strong no matter what they try  do to us in the future as well.

We are having one Minyan in the Big Shul this Shabbat followed by delicious sit-down Kiddush.

The daily Minyan has relocated to the Youth Centre while the Upstairs Shul is being refurbished.

  • Candle lighting:  6:15pm *Shabbat ends at 7:39 pm

Welcome home.  Welcome back to Shul.  You have no idea how much I missed you!  G-d Bless!

Shabbat Shalom!



Dear Sandton Shul Family

Shalom U’veracha. Peace and blessing to you!

If you are back home I look forward to seeing you in Shul on Shabbat, rested and relaxed. If you are still away, know that you are very much missed and I hope to welcome you back soon.
After last week’s cliff-hanger at the end of the Torah portion where Jacob’s twelfth son Benjamin was falsely accused of having stolen the viceroy of Egypt’s goblet, an act which would draw a lifetime of slavery upon the lad, this week, we see how the viceroy reveals his true identity. I am Joseph! Is my father still alive? Everything is going to be ok!! It is all as it is meant to be! The Torah continues and describes Jacob and Joseph’s reunion and his family’s relocation to the land of Goshen, setting the scene for the rise and fall and rise again of the Jewish people and our ultimate redemption with the Exodus from Egypt.

Vayigash is the 11th of 54 Parshiot in the Torah, and the penultimate Parasha in the book of Bereishit. It contains 106 verses with no mitzvot listed but lots of valuable life lessons.
The Fast of the 10th of Tevet falls out on this coming Sunday, the 8th of January.
There were three significant tragedies in the month of Tevet and our sages condensed these three sad days into one commemorative day so as not to make their observance too onerous on our people. What happened? On the 8th of Tevet, Ptolemy II forced seventy sages to translate the Torah into Greek. On the 9th, both Ezra and Nechemiah, who were both at the forefront of the rebuilding of the Second Temple, died.  On the 10th, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Yerushalayim, paving the way, eighteen months later to the destruction of the First Temple.

  • Candle lighting this week is at 6:15pm on Friday evening.
  • Shabbat ends at 7:39pm on Saturday night.
  •  The Fast begins at 4:05am on Sunday morning and end at 7:23pm.
  • One Minyan on Sunday morning in the upstairs Shul at 7:30am.

 I wish you a pleasant, restful, safe, delicious and altogether Holy Shabbat, wherever you are! G-d Bless!



And then the entire community lifted up their voice and gave it free rein, and the people wept all through the night. Then all the sons of Israel murmured against Moshe and against Aharon… (Bamidbar 14:1, 2)

The Gemara in Taanit (29) tells us that this took place on the ninth of Av. The Jews were murmuring. Again! They were grumbling for a change but come on, was that really so bad?

What’s wrong with a little grumble now and again? I mean, think of it, when you stub your toe or bump your keppie doesn’t saying “Ouch” help just a little bit? So why the fuss? When the Jews complained upon hearing the negative report of ten of the twelve spies, weren’t they entitled to a little whine? And yet we see that Moshe Rabeinu was incredibly disappointed in the people, just as Hashem must have been. Doesn’t everyone need a little moan once in a while?

I would like to suggest that it wasn’t just only the moaning, groaning and constant complaining that exasperated Moses, but that it was in fact the loss of opportunity and potential because of what they could have been doing in the time they chose to complain. It makes sense to me, to suggest that in the end of the day the people could have used the time better by learning, growing and Davening rather than murmuring and plotting and being so negative. I think a proof for this may be that on Tisha B’Av we are precluded amongst other things from learning Torah. Mida Keneged Mida, measure for measure. You want to moan when you shouldn’t instead of learning when you should, said Hashem, then there will be a time when you will moan when you shouldn’t have to, instead of learning. When? Tisha Be Av.

We often tend to focus on negative emotions and deleterious actions, when, if only we would take the time and think and do good instead we would be way happier and would induce those around up to be the same. So yes, an occasional kvetch is ok, but don’t do it for a living!

Renee and I wish every one of you a Shabbat Shalom !

Rabbi David Shaw


“And for the Miracles and for the Salvation, and for the mighty deeds, and for the victories and for the battles which you performed for our forefathers in those days at this time” This is the beginning of the introduction to the additional paragraph we say on Channuka during each amidah. G-d’s name is conspicuously absent from this short paragraph, which is really strange, considering the purpose of its inclusion in the first place. Namely to praise and thank G-d!I saw a comment by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky shlita, one of our contemporary Gedolim that perhaps the reason for this is that it is a continuation of the previous paragraph of Modim Anauchnu Lach, where we mention explicitly “it is you who are Hashem, and we thank You and relate Your praise, for our lives, and for Your miracles, that are with us every day etc. evening, morning and afternoon. That is why , explains the Mishna Berura that the Channuka paragraph begins with conjunctive “vav” i.e. the word ‘and’ linking it to what came just before. It is most interesting to note that if we would inadvertently leave out this paragraph which has a focus on the brilliant miracles of the festival of Channuka, it is not imperative and one need not repeat the whole amidah. You see this paragraph has tremendous nissim, miracles at its core, and the incredible salvation from the Greeks. The miraculous victory of good over bad, of the tiny Jewish army against the superpower of the day, the Greeks. How amazing! How marvellous! However if we left out the phrase in the previous paragraph, about the everyday miracles that G-d does in his infinite kindness for us all , every evening ,morning and afternoon , the seemingly ordinary mundane serendipitous occurrences, we most certainly have to go back and say it again. It seems to me that the daily wonders in our lives are more significant than the once in a while wonders that come along now and again.

Maybe that’s why we have an eight day festival for a seven day miracle. Seven days to commemorate the miracle of the oil and one day to commemorate the miracle that oil even burns.

Rabbi David Shaw


I was always under the impression that the reason why there is only scant mention in all of the Mishna of the Hashmonaim and the laws and customs of Chanukah was because Rebbi, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi was not so happy with the Hashmonaim.

They were priests, yet they held on to the political and religious leadership of the nation for some 200 years until the destruction of the second temple. King David’s descendants should have led the nation of Israel and because of that, Rebbi “fined” them by leaving them out of his compendium of our Oral law.

I just came across a suggestion by a contemporary sage, Rabbi Nissan Kaplan which attributes a much more noble rationale to this question. Rabbi Kaplan submits that the real reason Rebbe did not write a specific tractate of mishnayot on Chanukah was in fact to win an eternal victory over the Hellenists and their Greek overlords. How so? Well, the Greeks were after our souls more than our bodies. If our ancestors would simply convert out and became Hellenized the Greeks would be as happy as “pigs in Palestine” (no one is after their bacon, if you know what I mean). Theirs was a war waged against our Torah and holy commandments including the oral tradition upon which all of our religion is based. Rebbi felt almost two thousand years ago that it was necessary to commit our Oral tradition to written form to prevent it from G-d forbid being forgotten. In a sense the Greeks won that battle. Our oral tradition was committed to writing. However Rebbi felt, that at least our victory over them and the subsequent holiday our sages created in the wake of this miraculous triumph of good over evil and right over wrong, would be that that tradition should be passed on in a totally pure, oral and therefore unadulterated form, as all Mishna as was meant to be, until our enemies made it impossible.

So the reason there is no Tractate Chanukah is because this is the celebration and festival of our Oral law. At the very least these laws, we will transmit from generation to generation in perpetuity, in the very form they tried to uproot.

I like it lots!

Chanukah Samayach Lekulchem.

Rabbi David Shaw


Those who pay careful attention to the Parsha while reviewing it or during its public reading on Shabbos will note a curious fact: unlike almost every other Parsha in the Torah, Parshat Vayeitzei contains no breaks from start to finish. It is written in the Sefer Torah without any of the customary spaces which indicate the beginning of a new section within the parsha. As there are no coincidences in the Torah, what is the reason for this anomaly?

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz explains that Parshat Vayeitzei contains a number of subplots: Yaakov’s flight from Eisav, Yaakov’s dealings with his tricky father-in-law Lavan, Yaakov’s relationship with his wives Rachel and Leah and the interactions between the two women, the birth of the tribes, and Yaakov’s flight from Lavan back to the land of his parents. When examining any of these episodes in its own light, a number of difficult and seemingly unanswerable questions present themselves.

The Torah intentionally structured Parshat Vayeitzei as one long and continuously unfolding narrative to teach that it is impossible to split up the various events contained therein and judge any of them in a vacuum. Rather, each episode is just one small piece of a much larger picture, one which can only begin to be understood when one steps back and views it in the context of the bigger picture.

The Sefer Darkei Mussar relates a profound story about a Chassidic Rebbe – Rav Shimon of Yaroslav – merited living until well past the age of 100. When he was asked in what merit he had enjoyed such a long and healthy life, he responded with words packed with wisdom: “Don’t think that I’ve had an easy life. I’ve had my share of difficulties and pain just like everybody else. If anything, because I’ve lived longer, I’ve had more occasions and opportunities to suffer. It would have been very easy and natural to complain to Hashem, ‘Why did this have to happen? Why couldn’t that have turned out differently? However, I was afraid that if I began demanding a justification and explanation of Hashem’s ways, the Heavenly Court would say, ‘If this Rabbi wants answers so badly, let’s call him up here and give them to him!’ So I never asked any of these types of questions. I didn’t have any more answers than anybody else, but because I never asked for them, they let me stay down here for quite some time!”

As the Torah was written for all generations, it is clear that the lessons contained therein are applicable to every person throughout the ages. The lesson of needing to view events in the context of a larger perspective can be extrapolated to the situations which occur in each of our lives. We should realize that although we don’t always understand the ways of Hashem, we nevertheless must trust the processes. In the end , it will always make sense.

Rabbi David Shaw


The Vilna Gaon, the preeminent Torah sage who lived in the 18th century taught that Mankind’s primary occupation in this world is to refine our characters. To take our natural predispositions and to work on them, on ourselves, to ensure that we become more than what we have in fact become. This implies that YES!! Human beings can with effort actually change and change for the better. We can change, fundamentally, in our mindsets in our hearts and in our souls and not merely temporarily in our external behavior. That’s good news I think! We have within us a capacity to improve every aspect of who we ultimately are. We can reengineer ourselves for good. We are, my friends, but 1 month away from Rosh Hashana, who will live and who will die, who will be rich and who will be poor, who will succeed and who will struggle. Health, wealth and happiness. The stakes are humongous.

All Hashem asks of us is to veer a little in His direction, He will do the rest to make the connection strong and secure. May I suggest that one good way of preparing for the Yemei Din, the days of Awe is to be religious about not speaking bad, neither about one another, nor to one another? The merit of this will go a long way to bring great merit to us as individuals, to our families and to our precious community.

May Hashem bless us all with the very best year ever.

Rabbi David Shaw


I vividly recall how as a grade ten student at a Jewish Day School here in Johannesburg, our Jewish Studies Rabbi asked my class the following question. “How many stages or steps are there in the Teshuvah process?” My hand shot up and I waited to be acknowledged by the Rabbi who was no doubt relieved that at least one of his students displayed such enthusiasm. That I was enthusiastic, was not at all hard for him to discern, I still remember how my hand reached high into the sky and I all but stood up while panting loudly, with an eager look on my face which could only mean, “I know! I really do know!” There are four stages, I blurted out. He looked at me curiously and gingerly asked for me to list them. Well, the first stage is that one has to actually sin. His smile changed to a frown and he promptly kicked me out of the class. But tell me my friends, was I not right? How can one repent if one has not erred in any way? Knowingly or unknowingly. G-d in His wisdom gave us an Elul, a Rosh Hashana and a Yom Kippurim because we all make mistakes. Every single one of us .Everyone that is, except for four who never sinned. Our sages tell who they were. King David’s father Yishai, his son Chilav, Moshe Rabeinu’s father Amram and Benjamin. Everyone else, and I mean everyone else besides these four, has something to repent for. Sometimes it is for something significant, and sometimes it is for something miniscule, but it is always there.

Now here is the biggest paradox in our whole discussion on doing Teshuva. Teshuva is simply recognizing what it is we have done wrong, regretting it if we can, and then desisting from ever doing it again. Oh Yes! If it was something between you and G-d, confess it and if between you and your fellow man , sort it out between you and them. Now here is the paradox: - the worse you actually are is simply an indication of how good you could really be. The further you fall, the higher you have the potential to climb. However no one ever told us just how great we can be.I saw in a sociology text book recently that 95% of us could not even identify a photograph of the back of our own hand if it would be mixed with photos of others. We are even worse off when it comes to knowing our spiritual potential.

The Gemara in Chagiga teaches us the story of Rabbi Elisha Ben Avuyah, known as Acher, “the other”. Once so great, and then so corrupt, that his previous Rabbinic colleagues could not even bring themselves to even mention his given name. One day in defiance of Jewish law he rode a horse on Shabbat. Walking next to him was his long time student Rabbi Meir, who still maintained a relationship with his Rebbe. Upon reaching the Sabbath boundary, the T’chum Shabbat Acher said to him, “Go back you cannot go any further. Rabbi Meir replied “You too go back Rebbe”, back to the ways of Torah in other words do teshuva. Acher replied to him in what must surely be one of the saddest episodes in all of the Talmud, I can’t for I have heard from Heaven itself that everyone else can return, except for Acher, except for me. Even would I choose to return, and ultimately do teshuva, my repentance it seems, would not be acceptable. I have gone too far. How sad and what makes it even sadder it was simply not true. Rabbi J B Soloveitchik of blessed memory explained that everyone can do teshuva, everyone can surely repent. But the communication from heaven to Acher was so clear, everyone but you Acher. And that was true. Acher can’t repent but you see, you are not Acher. Acher does not exist. You are the great Rabbi Elisha ben Avuyah. Of course sincere repentance is acceptable to G-d. No matter whom you may have been then. How comforting!

The worse you were is just an indication of just how good you could really be, if only you would stop, regret and where appropriate confess to G-d or sort out your fellow man.

Rabbi David Shaw
Sandton Shul


If Rosh Hashana is the Day of Judgement and Yom Kippur, ten days later, is the Day of Atonement, it would seem that the order of the days is out of sequence. Surely forgiveness should be sought and would be preferable before the trial rather than being judged and only then pursuing some absolution for what one has done?

In truth, there are two different elements that we seek forgiveness for. The Gemara, our oral law, explains that while King David sinned twice, he was forgiven, while his predecessor King Saul sinned but once and was not. It seems a little unfair to say the least. However, our sages explain that in reality, King David’s sins were sins of passion. It was what he did that required him to redress his actions and seek pardon. With King Saul it was not so much what he did that was so bad. It was rather for who he was. It was not for his behaviour, but rather for his character.

It is way more difficult to sort out who we are than what we do. It is the who that we are that will determine at the end of the day what we do.

Rosh Hashana is the day we make G-d King. First our king and then hopefully the King of the Universe, to who we channel all we do. We go to the very roots of our being and allow Hashem to define our role in His world. Strange as it seems, we don’t mention sin or wrongdoing on Rosh Hashana at all. Our total focus on these days is on making our lives more G-d -centric. We implode our very foundations and place ourselves firmly in G-d’s hands.

We reengineer who we are.

On Yom Kippur on the other hand, we repent and here we do do Teshuva and make right all the wrongs we did or did not do, over the course of the past year, sin by sin.

We still have a little time to reflect on what we could do, what we should do, to emerge from these days, with a cleaner slate and a clearer vision.

Shana Tova Umetuka!

Rabbi David Shaw


I don’t know why, but I had the most random thoughts while flying back from Cape Town the other night. Everyone was having a good shloff all around me, there was no one to chat with. My wife had tucked the nosh just out of my reach and I surely did not want to disturb her just for a biscuit or two. I found myself saying over a poem my late father had taught me from when I was really a very little fellow. I am not such a poetry kind of guy but this was one that stuck in my mind and I had not thought about in ages. Here it is …
For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of the message the battle was lost.
For want of the battle the kingdom was lost.
All for the want of a horseshoe nail.

My father would say this poem to me when I would maybe be a tad tardy about some task or chore that I had to do. It seems so small, so insignificant but even the most insignificant action or non-action can have devastating consequences. Try sending an email and put the dot on the wrong place! Like the NASA technicians who some years ago forgot to bolt back a $290 million satellite onto its stand with screws that cost under $10 for the lot and lost the satellite when it toppled over and crashed in the hanger where it had just been built.
We are in Elul with less than a month to go to Rosh Hashana. It is often the littlest of details in our lives; the ”horseshoe nails in our relationships”, that if only we would attend to them there and then, when they are still little, no problem would follow. Ever thought to yourself, I will refuel just a little further down the track and then land up getting stuck in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Or have you ever delayed attending to a tiny wound and landed up with a major medical issue. Or a cough? Or a sin against your family of even a friend? It’s all the same. A simple nail is easy enough to repair. Only as the causality expands and expands does is become so exacerbated that it could literally lead to a war with everything lost. We have some time to the Yemei Hadin, the High Holidays. Take stock and see how we are able to fix whatever needs to be fixed while the issues are still relatively small.
May we all merit a favourable judgement, for us, our families and indeed of all Israel!

Shana Tova Umetukah!

Rabbi David Shaw


Message: The Zohar which explains the Ten Commandments in Parshat Yitro comments on the words “(I) took you out of the land of Egypt” that is the “Yovail” – Jubilee Year.

“as we are taught that through the strength of the Yovail Israel went out of Egypt. Therefore the exodus from Egypt is mentioned fifty times. There are fifty days to the receiving of the Torah. Fifty years to the freedom of slaves from servitude.

It is interesting to note that the Zohar ties up the exodus from Egypt, which was a great kindness to the Jewish people, with the mitzvah of the Yovel. In the Yovel year, all slave owners had to send away their slaves. This was not an easy mitzvah to keep, because a rich man would have gotten used to the luxury of slaves to serve him. Also the slave owner could have a formidable business through his slaves and the merit of the exodus, because G-d forced the Jewish people and we must follow suite in our own lives.

The Haftorah of the week is dedicated to this mitzvah and it is an indictment against Israel who freed their slaves and then immediately re-enslaved them.

In the book of Jeremiah the Prophet (CR.34) we read, “and all the princes and all the people who come into the covenant heeded to send each man his servant and each man his man servant free, not to work with them anymore and the head and sent them away. They went back afterwards and returned the servants and maidservants which they set free and kept them as servants and maids. And word of G-d was to Jeremiah from G-d saying.

So says Hashem G-d of Israel, I made a covenant with your father when I took them out of Egypt from the house and bondage saying.

The words and consequences are powerful. It teaches us that our observance of the mitzvoth have a direct influence on our lives.


I saw the most phenomenal piece of Torah in the writings of Rabbi Moshe Donnenbaum, a Rav, and Rosh Kehillah in Melbourne. In the 1800th century there was a huge macholoket (dispute) which ripped the Jewish world in two. Even the Vilna Gaon was unable to bring peace to the two camps. This dispute was between the followers of two giants and was clearly lasheim shamayayim (for the sake of heaven). Many of their followers stoked the flames of this dispute.
Many years later, long after the two protagonists, Rabbi Yonason Eibshitz and Rabbi Yaacov Emdin passed away, Rabbi Yonason Eibshitz appeared to one of the great sages of that generation in a dream. The Rabbi reported that both he and Rabbi Yaacov Emdin were enjoying each other’s company in Gan Eden while the stirrers of the dispute were still suffering in Gehenom. How could that be? It is well known that Gehenom lasts for a maximum of twelve months. Rabbi Donnenbaum explained that there are some exceptions to this rule. Regarding Machloket mongers, those who promote and ferment machlocket, their punishment or indeed their cleansing process for such a heinous sin, can extend well beyond the twelve months. So bad is this sin, one should literally ensure never ever to be involved. We see in the Parasha the way heaven dealt with Korach and his cohort of 250 for promoting through there speech and actions enmity within the camp of Israel.
I think it was Ronald Reagan, while president of the USA who said Peace is not absence of conflict; it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi David Shaw