Issue #6 | 01/11/2018

By the Grace of G-d
Newtown Shul is the only synagogue in Sydney’s Inner West.  Newtown Shul’s activities are possible because of your kind generosity and we thank you for it.

Please consider becoming a member.

Should you wish to donate to Newtown Shul, you can always do so using the bank account details below. Please make sure to send an email to newtown@shul.org.au with a copy of the transaction confirmation.

Account Name: Newtown Synagogue INC, BSB: 032036,
Account No: 960034
Parshah in a Nutshell

Parshas Chayei Sarah

Courtesy of Chabad.org

Sarah dies at age 127 and is buried in the Machpelah Cavein Hebron, which Abraham purchased from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver.

Abraham’s servant Eliezer is sent, laden with gifts, to Charan, to find a wife for Isaac. At the village well, Eliezerasks G‑d for a sign: when the maidens come to the well, he will ask for some water to drink; the woman who will offer to give his camels to drink as well shall be the one destined for his master’s son.

Rebecca, the daughter of Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, appears at the well and passes the “test.” Eliezer is invited to their home, where he repeats the story of the day’s events. Rebecca returns with Eliezer to the land of Canaan, where they encounter Isaac praying in the field. Isaac marries Rebecca, loves her, and is comforted over the loss of his mother.

Abraham takes a new wife, Keturah (Hagar), and fathers six additional sons, but Isaac is designated as his only heir. Abraham dies at age 175 and is buried beside Sarah by his two eldest sons, Isaac and Ishmael.

Special Announcement

ESTHER AND GEORGE is the extraordinary and mostly unknown story of the 15-year-old Jewish convict Esther. She came across on the First Fleet where she met her future husband George and became First Lady of the British Empire. We want to celebrate her life, explore her contradictions and find the gaps in our knowledge. Melanie Morningstar is a multiple award-winning producer. Her most recent 2018 work FATHER was screened at 12 international film festivals. Esther and George is ambitious storytelling. We want to reveal Australia’s less familiar history in a different and exciting way, using new visual techniques to recreate the period of time. Esther was convicted (some say falsely) in London of stealing lace and was sentenced to seven years transportation to Australia She meets Lieutenant George Johnston who led the coup against Governor Bligh and subsequently led the Rum Rebellion in 1808. They have seven children together. This is the story of the adventures they have along the way. We intend producing a four-hour television series in 2019. This 10-minute short is to show backers to gain further sponsorship. The Esther and George short is mostly completed. The campaign money is needed to hire a compositor. A compositor is responsible for constructing the final image of the video. They will take the 2D and 3D elements (both CGI and Visual Effects) to produce a high quality finished production. By getting involved in this project, you are ensuring these stories get told.

Click here to fund/sponsor ESTHER AND GEORGE – A SHORT FILM

Shabbat for Pittsburgh

B”H

We are saddened by the news of the attack on our brothers and sisters in Pittsburgh that took place this past Shabbat. We mourn the 11 holy souls who were so cruelly torn from our midst. We pray for strength and comfort for the families affected by this tragedy. Their immense pain is shared by the entire Jewish people and all people worldwide.

Let us beseech G-d to send healing and comfort to the grieving families and pray that He quickly eradicate all evil and hatred and usher in the coming of Moshiach, speedily in our days.

Let us pray fervently for the complete and speedy recovery of the injured!

You are invited to join us at Newtown Synagogue this Friday night, 2 November, for prayer and reflection as we commemorate the lives of those who were lost. Shabbat dinner will follow as always, and all are welcome – Jews and non-Jews alike.

Suggested donation of $20 per person. University students are free.

To RSVP: Click here

If you are not able to make it to Newtown Synagogue, we encourage you to attend a prayer service at your local Synagogue.

To donate to victims of Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, click here: https://www.gofundme.com/tree-of-life-synagogue-shooting

You may also choose to respond to this evil darkness with the light and goodness of doing a mitzvah for Pittsburgh at: http://mitzvah4pittsburgh.com

May the merit of our collective mitzvot bring much comfort and peace at this extraordinarily challenging time.

Rabbi Eli Feldman

Newtown Shul Weekly Friday Night Dinner

The Shabbat Dinner is the traditional focal point of every Jew’s week. We at Newtown Shul, extend a warm welcome to all people to join us for a traditional Friday Night Dinner.

The Shabbat Dinner is held in the hall beside the Synagogue immediately after the 6:30pm Shabbat service.

The Shabbat Dinner is a joint project of Newtown Synagogue and Young Adult Chabad and operates by virtue of the generosity of donors and volunteers.

All of the food served at the dinner is prepared ‘by the people for the people’ with love.

There is a suggested donation of $20 per person. To make a tax-deductible donation for the Shabbat dinners, please click here.

Weekly Insight

The Disappearing Groom

Based on the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe (Courtesy of Chabad.org)

In the Torah section of Chayei Sarah (Genesis 23:1–25:18), we read of the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca. Since this is the first marriage to be recounted in detail by the Torah, we can expect it to yield insights into the essence of the marriage relationship.

A most curious aspect of the Isaac-Rebecca relationship is that for the three years immediately prior to the marriage, Isaac literally disappears. A summation of Isaac’s life leaves us with an unaccountable gap of almost three years: The Torah tells us that he was sixty years old when his twin sons, Esau and Jacob, were born (Genesis 25:26). According to the Midrash, however, the twins’ grandfather Abraham, who died at age 175 (ibid. v. 7), passed away on the day that they reached the age of thirteen (Bereishit Rabbah 63:10 and 63:12); since Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 (Genesis 21:5), this would mean that Esau and Jacob were born almost 63 years after Isaac’s birth. In other words, when Isaac turned 60, close to 63 years had already elapsed from the time of his birth. Somehow, he had “lost” three years of his life.

One of the explanations offered by our sages is that before his marriage to Rebecca (at age 40), Isaac spent three years in the Garden of Eden. During this time he led an entirely spiritual existence so that these years are not counted as part of his physical life.

Although few of us can endeavour to emulate Isaac’s example in its most ultimate sense, the implications are clear: a prerequisite to the marriage relationship is that one must first devote a certain period of time exclusively to spiritual and G‑dly pursuits, with minimal involvement in the material aspects of life.

The Impossible Edifice

Marriage itself appears to be the very opposite of this: a time of increased enmeshment in the material. It is a time when one begins to engage the most physical of human drives; it is also a time when one is forced to begin to involve oneself in earnest in the earning of a living, often at the expense of higher and more idealistic pursuits. In fact, the Zohar considers marriage to be a person’s second birth: first the soul enters into the body and assumes a physical existence; then, at a later point in life, it further “descends” into the physical state by marrying. Nevertheless (indeed, as we shall see, because of this), marriage is the framework within which the most G‑dly aspect of the human potential is realized.

The traditional blessing given to the bride and groom is that they merit “to build an eternal edifice.” Out of the marriage comes the creation of human life—life with the potential to produce yet another generation of life, which in turn can yield another, and so on ad infinitum. The power of reproduction presents us with a logical impossibility: how can a finite entity contain within itself an infinite potential? Indeed, our sages have said: “There are three partners to the creation of man: G‑d, his father and his mother.” G‑d, the only truly infinite being, has done the impossible: He has imbued finite man with an infinite quality. In marriage, two finite and temporal creatures establish an infinite and eternal edifice.

It is, therefore, no accident that the quality with which man most emulates his Creator is realized only through a “descent” into the material. For so it is with G‑d Himself: the infinite nature of His power is most potently expressed with His creation of the physical universe. A truly infinite being is not constrained by any definitions and parameters: he is to be found anywhere and everywhere, even in the most confining and corporeal of environments. G‑d’s creation of sublime and abstract worlds cannot convey the infinite scope of His power in the same way that His creation of—and constant involvement with—our “lowly” and finite existence can.

The same is true of the power of creation invested in the human being. Because of its divinely infinite nature, it can—and does—find realization in the most “physical” area of human life.

Spiritual Prelude

Man has been granted freedom of choice. So, when a man and woman join their lives, it is up to them to do what they will with the divine gift of procreation. They can choose to squander it in a relationship devoid of meaningful content—a relationship in which they become only more enmeshed in their material selves. Or they can endeavour to construct an edifice which is eternal in more than the most basic, biological sense. They can endeavour to build a selfless and giving relationship, and a home and family committed to the timeless values set forth by the Creator of life.

This is the lesson of Isaac’s disappearance from physical life prior to his marriage. In order to ensure that one’s “descent” into marriage yields the proper results, it must be preceded by a period of spiritual preparation. Although man’s mission in life is the positive development of the physical world, one must enter the arena of the material well-equipped with the spiritual vision of the divine purpose and with the spiritual fortitude to carry it out.

Shabbos Chuckle

Avi Spitz was tense because his mother was planning a visit and she would always needle him about his smoking habit. A couple of hours into their visit, Mrs. Spitz noticed he hadn’t once lit up a cigarette. “So Avi, are you trying to kick the habit?” she asked.

“Not really Ma,” Avi replied nonchalantly. “I have a cold, and I don’t smoke when I’m not feeling well.”

“Oy,” Mrs. Spitz sighed, “you know, you’d probably live longer if you were sick more often.”

Kristallnacht Commemoration

November 1st, 2018
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