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Parshat Emor

05/13/2022 01:54:47 PM

May13

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Parshat Emor highlights the Jewish holidays: 

דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם מוֹעֲדֵ֣י ה' אֲשֶׁר־תִּקְרְא֥וּ אֹתָ֖ם מִקְרָאֵ֣י קֹ֑דֶשׁ אֵ֥לֶּה הֵ֖ם מוֹעֲדָֽי׃

...The festivals of Hashem, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations...

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Shabbat Kedoshim

05/06/2022 11:58:55 AM

May6

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Last week, we read parshat Acharei Mot; this week, kedoshim. Often the two parshiot are conjoined, though not this year. There’s an old rabbinical saw that goes “acharei mos -> kedoshim” – i.e., after someone dies, their flaws are forgotten and they become solely holy. The American poet Carl Sanburg (1878-1967) expressed a similar idea at the end of his 6 vol. biography of Abraham Lincoln: “A tree is best measured when it is down...Read more...

Shabbat Achrei Mot

04/29/2022 12:49:22 PM

Apr29

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

This past Wednesday night, at Shaarei we hosted our annual joint-communal Yom HaShoah observance. To hear our friend Linda Jaffe’s bearing witness on behalf of her late father, Holocaust survivor George Shainfarber z”l, click here. This coming week, we observe Yom HaZikaron and celebrate Yom Haatzmaut with our larger community at the Young Israel of Brookline. May we as a People alway go from distress to relief, darkness to...Read more...

Shivii Shel Pesach and Acharon Shel Pesach

04/21/2022 01:57:28 PM

Apr21

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

The last days of Pesach outside the Land of Israel are referred to as: Shivii Shel Pesach and Acharon Shel Pesach, respectively. This year, because there was no Shabbat Chol haMoed Pesach, some of our practices, such as reading Shir HaShirim, take place on Shevii Shel Pesach. The 7th day of Pesach commemorates the splitting of the Red Sea and the Children of Israel passing through to the other side, symbolizing that the journey from bondage...Read more...

Pesach Guide 5782/2022

04/06/2022 10:33:43 AM

Apr6

Rebecca Beit-Aharon

Click here for our Pesach guide! Includes important times, a detailed schedule and guide, and more.

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From the Archive: An All-Inclusive History

03/29/2022 01:39:04 PM

Mar29

Rebecca Beit-Aharon

In the April 1999/Nisan 5759 Shaarei newsletter, a flyer advertises the May 2 event “Special Education in the Jewish Community: Valuing All Our Children,” a three-and-a-half hour conference presented by Etgar Noar, a then-new organization “dedicated to meeting the challenge of giving children with special needs a Jewish education.”Read more...

Aish Tamid, Aish Zara

03/25/2022 11:42:33 AM

Mar25

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Last week, on Shabbat morning, I spoke about the Aish Tamid - the fire that came from Heaven but had to be perpetually maintained on the mizbeach in the Mishkan. The Aish Tamid comes to symbolize dedication, consistency and endurance in our avodat ha-kodesh - our sacred service, whether it be Torah learning, daily davening, or acts of chesed and social justice. This week’s parashah introduces the idea of Aish Zara - a foreign...Read more...

A Giving Heart

02/25/2022 10:03:25 AM

Feb25

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Nediv Lev - A Giving Heart is the opening theme of Parshat Vayekhel, as well as of Parshat Shekalim, and even is the driving principle of Chodesh Adar and Purim. The Mishkan—the place of God’s indwelling presence was built through generosity of spirit. The people of Israel were counted by their generosity. And the Jewish people likewise are redeemed in times of trouble...Read more...

Calling All Minyan People!

02/18/2022 12:51:02 PM

Feb18

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

In 1987, a seventeen year old high school student named Victor Shine penned a poignant folk song called “Minyan Man.” It describes a small town Orthodox minyan whose 10th man had recently passed away. Then, unexpectedly, a Jewish visitor rolls into town, becoming the “minyan man,” bringing new life to the old shul. Shine sent his demo (click here) to his friend Lenny Solomon, founder of the band Shlock Rock. Lenny rearranged...Read more...

UPDATED SHAAREI COVID19 PROTOCOLS: Important Message from Rabbi Samuels & Presidents Alex Klibaner

02/18/2022 09:31:10 AM

Feb18

Chevre,

We have updated our Shul’s Covid-safety protocols from time to time, as warranted by the changing dynamics of our shared, ongoing global paRead more...

From the Archive: Still Worth Working For

02/17/2022 10:01:30 AM

Feb17

Rebecca Beit-Aharon

What issues mattered to Shaarei Tefillah in Spring 1986? Are we still worth working for?Read more...

What do you do each day?

02/10/2022 01:32:46 PM

Feb10

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

What do you do each day? Of course, we all eat, sleep, and care for ourselves and our family. If we are students in school, we study; if we are in our work years, we work; if we are retired, we have choices to make regarding how to fill our time. There has never, however, been a time that I can recall more Jewish choices for all of us - students, workers, retirees - about what we can Jewishly do each day. Certainly, daily davening continues,...Read more...

From the Archive: A History of Activism

02/09/2022 09:16:45 AM

Feb9

Rebecca Beit-Aharon

How did Shaarei's early members advocate for a place to worship?Read more...

Our Kehillah Kedoshah

02/04/2022 10:20:56 AM

Feb4

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Exodus 25:8 reads:

ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם - And you shall make for Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell amongst them.

This mitzvah to build a holy community comes from this week’s parashah. It emphasizes the idea that while Hashem may be everywhere, Hashem is only perceived as present to those who invite the Divine into their midst. It also teaches that Divine immanence is not...Read more...

From Amalek to Yitro

01/21/2022 11:22:08 AM

Jan21

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

This morning, the Ruderman Family Foundation released a report on their recent panel study and survey, which found that 94% of American Jews feel that there is antisemitism in the United States, with over 50% of respondents personally having experienced antisemtism either directly or through family and friends over the past five years. Unfortunately, this should not come as a surprise to us. “Bekhol dor va-dor - in every...Read more...

We too are capable of an awakening

01/14/2022 02:32:18 PM

Jan14

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

 ט”ו בשבט הגיע - Tu Bishvat has arrived! It is hard for us to imagine here in cold and windy New England that in Israel, the land of eternal promise, the almond trees are blossoming - השקדיה פורחת. From the holy soil of Israel, nature’s annual awakening beckons to us. This past week, I began to teach Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto’s Mesillat Yesharim - The Path of the Upright, a classic of Mussar ...Read more...

President and Rabbi's Message

01/07/2022 10:30:01 AM

Jan7

Alex Klibaner & Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

This week’s parasha showcases Hashem’s supernatural powers in bringing the final three plagues on Egypt. And in the face of plague after plague after plague, Pharaoh appears quite resilient, which I can appreciate seeing our own society struggle with one prominent plague. Yet, unlike Pharaoh, we are not resilient by hardening our own hearts. To the contrary, Shaarei members are continuing to learn Torah, to build community, to attend Shul...Read more...

Upcoming CST-Ma'ayan Classes with Rabbi Samuels

01/04/2022 01:40:51 PM

Jan4

Rebecca Beit-Aharon

Rabbi Samuels will be teaching two Zoom courses this spring with Ma'ayan! Check it out.

The Life and Afterlife of a Musar Masterpiece Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato's Mesilat Yesharim

5 Wednesdays from 7:45pm-8:45pm
January 12, 19, 26 & February 2, 9

In the...Read more...

Rabbi's Message, Parshat  Vaera

12/31/2021 10:24:52 AM

Dec31

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Imagine living during the ten plagues of our parashah. First, imagine you are a slave - a member of B’nei Yisrael. Next, imagine you are an Egyptian, one of the regular population without power or influence. Then, imagine you are a member of the Egyptian aristocracy. Let’s stipulate that you recognize the moral bankruptcy of your Pharaoh's kingdom, but you have everything to lose from radical social change. Now, take those...Read more...

Rabbi's Message, Parshat Vayechi

12/17/2021 09:15:50 AM

Dec17

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Once again, this year, on Shabbat Parshat Vayechi, we join with 500 other Orthodox synagogues across the country for TEAM Shabbat, sponsored by the National Association of Chevra Kadishas (NASCK).  TEAM stands for “traditional end-of-life awareness.”  This week’s parashah closes Sefer Bereishit with the passing of Yaakov Avinu, and later Yosef, concluding the patriarchal and matriarchal narratives and setting the...Read more...

Rabbi's Message, Parshat  Vayigash

12/10/2021 12:11:04 PM

Dec10

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

The weight of words… Many begin their study of this week’s parashah focusing on action: “Vayigash Eilav Yehudah - And Judah approached (Gen 44:18).” Judah assumes responsibility, steps forward, and argues the brothers’ case to the viceroy of Egypt, who unbeknownst to them is none other than their long-lost sibling Joseph. Judah acts and exercises leadership.

Action is key, but I am stuck on words. Seventeen verses into...Read more...

Rabbi's Message, Parshat Miketz

12/03/2021 11:10:28 AM

Dec3

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

There is a curious halakhah regarding the placement of the Chanukah Menorah. The Talmud (TB Shabbat 21b; Sh”A O”C 671:6) says that it should be placed above 3 tefachim - handbreaths, but beneath 10 tefachim, from the ground (~between 12” and 36-40”). Why is the best practice to place the Chanukiah so low when the intent is to broadly publicize the miracle of Chanukah? The Talmud (TB Sukkah 5a ff.) teaches another curious theological...Read more...

Rabbi's Message, Parshat Vayeshev

11/26/2021 09:16:43 AM

Nov26

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Many traditional Jewish Americans - whether descendents of early Sephardic Jewish arrivals, or 19th century immigrants from Western Europe, or the influx of Eastern European Jews in the first half of the 20th century, or the many nationalities of later Jewish immigrants - have fully embraced the American Holiday of Thanksgiving. Rabbi Solovietchik zt”l was known to end his Talmud shiur at Yeshiva University early (Torah never...Read more...

Rabbi's Message, Shabbat Vayishlach

11/19/2021 10:43:35 AM

Nov19

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

The story is told that once when a principal of a day school went to consult with his Rosh Yeshiva about expelling a student, the great rabbi surprised him by asking: "What is the name of the student's mother?"

The bewildered principal asked: "Why is that important?"

The Rav answered: "Are telling me that you are considering expelling a student, but you have not yet davened for him?!"

In this week’s parashah, Yaakov...Read more...

Shabbat Youth Programming Expectations

11/18/2021 05:19:26 PM

Nov18

​​​​​​Dearest Families, Friends and Kahal members,

We are transitioning to a more structured, religiously interactive, and engaging ShabbRead more...

Rabbi's Message, Shabbat Vayetzei

11/12/2021 12:25:41 PM

Nov12

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

This week, we began our in-person, after-school, Teen Torah study with Rabbi Samuels for Middle Schoolers and High Schoolers who attend public school. It was wonderful to once again hear in a Torah class in our Shul building with tween and teen voices laughing and sharing insightful comments and opinions. Our Middle School class will study Jewish Leadership Models this Fall/Winter, beginning with Avraham Avinu. We are...Read more...

Participate in Shabbat Eat & Meet, October 26

10/21/2021 11:28:10 AM

Oct21

Last Call:  Shabbat Eat & Meet Participation
Take the survey now!
Dear Chevre,

Please take this survey as soon as possible so we can match everyoRead more...

Next Monday: Literacy Program Outreach Meeting, 8:15pm

10/19/2021 08:25:10 AM

Oct19

Congregation Shaarei Tefillah

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Rabbi's Message, Shabbat Lech Lecha

10/18/2021 03:22:52 PM

Oct18

This week, I started teaching two Talmud classes on Property Law. One might wonder, why is property law considered a sacred Torah study? In last week’s parashah, Parshat Noach, the Torah tells two stories: the Mabbul - the world-destroying flood and the Tower of Babel. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 108a, see also Rashi to Gen 11:9) asks why did God destroy the world in one instance, and scatter the population in the other? In the second story...Read more...

Shabbat Programming Survey Reminder

10/13/2021 11:34:44 AM

Oct13

In a few weeks, we will lose our Tent for davening and other activities. However, davening and participating in Youth Programming with the Teen LeadsRead more...
Thu, May 19 2022 18 Iyyar 5782