Beth Tephilah Family Bulletin


The Beth Tephilah Family Bulletin
This week the parasha is
Parshat Vayikra

If anyone want to sale their chametz please call me at

 (518) 894 – 3490 or reply to this email by march 24th!

We hope this bulletin finds you in good health!

 Here are some interesting “Tidbits” from the schmooze table we would like to share:

An American tourist in Tel Aviv was about to enter the impressive Mann Auditorium to take in a concert by the Israel Philharmonic. He was admiring the unique architecture, the sweeping lines of the entrance, and the modern decor throughout the building. Finally he turned to his escort and asked if the building was named for Thomas Mann, the world-famous author.
“No,” his friend said, “it’s named for Fredric Mann, from Philadelphia.”
“Really? I never heard of him. What did he write?”
“A check”. …………………………………………….

Yankel was afraid to return home without a kopek to his name.  His shrewish wife, he knew, would din a never-ending tirade into his ears until they ached.  She had cautioned him against leaving their small town to seek his fortune in Moscow, but would he listen?  No, not he!  He had to be the big fortune-seeker with the big ideas!
Now, after spending a year in the metropolis, he realized that she had been right; he never should have left.  Misfortune had confronted him on all sides, and at year’s end, he was left with only one problem — how to save face before his wife.
“How can I return home without bringing any money at all?” pondered Yankel.  “I must think of a logical excuse or I will never hear the end of it.”
Just then he hit upon a brilliant idea.  Reaching into his pocket he withdrew a large red handkerchief and tied it across his face so that only his eyes were visible.
The moment he opened the door to his house, his wife screamed:  “Oy gevald!  What happened to your face?”
“It was terrible!” moaned Yankel quite convincingly.  “Just before I reached town I was held up by a band of Cossacks who ordered me to give them all my money or they would cut off my nose.”
“Shlemiel!” wailed his wife.  “What kind of life will you have without a nose!  Why didn’t you give them your money?”
“Sha!  Sha!  Don’t carry on so,” grinned Yankel, snatching off the red handkerchief.  “That’s exactly what I did!”……..


“Which is more important, the sun or the moon?” a citizen of Chelm asked the rabbi.
” What a silly question!” snapped the cleric.  “The moon, of course!  It shines at night when we really need it.  But who needs the sun to shine when it is already broad daylight?”


It’s Erev Rosh Hashanah and services are about to begin. the synagogue is packed. As the congregants are milling around shmoozing before services, everyone seems to be distracated by man who has brought with him a St. Bernard dog. “What chutzpah!” an elderly woman whispers aloud. 

  Services begin, and everyone is fascinated by how well the dog behaves. The next morning. the man and his dog arrive early and promptly  begin davening. This time the dog is wearing its own little tallis and yarmulke, and even appears, upon closer inspection, to be shuckling back   and forth as the hazzan intones the prayers. The congregation is amazed.    The week goes by and Kol Nidre arrives. The solemn worship service begins. The man and his dog are back, and this time, just as the hazzan is about to begin the prayers, the dog stands up on its hind legs and howls “Ba-Roooooooch…….!” more melodically than the best hazzan.    After the service, everyone is clamoring to meet this man and his remarkable dog. Finally the rabbi comes up to him and says, “That’s one talented pooch you have there. You know you should really consider sending your dog to Rabbinical School.” 

  The man looks down, shakes his head, throws up his hands in disgust and says, “YOU TALK TO HIM! He wants to be a doctor!………………………………………………………………………….

A destitute man went from door to door asking for alms because his house was destroyed in a fire.
“Have you a document from your rabbi affirming that your story is true?” “Oy,” he replied.  “That, too, was destroyed in the fire!”

Story of the week

Something to Think About…….

You will never look at a cup of coffee the same way again.

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots; in the second she placed eggs; and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.

She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.

She did, and noted that they had gotten soft.

She then asked her to take an egg and break it.

After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, “What’s the point, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity – boiling water – but each had reacted differently.

The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting.

However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.

The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.

The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter.

“When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond?

Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?”

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain.

When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hours are the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level?

How do you handle Adversity?


Our Special Connection Of the week

Eli Ageloff A’’H

Eli Ageloff A”H passed away on the 5th portion of the parasha of Vayikra. In this portion, G-d instructs Moses of the sacrifice that must be made if the majority of the Jewish people sin. This sin causes the a departure of  the revelation of G-dliness from the Mishkan, the temple in the desert. In the command of procedure of this sacrifice, G-d is not explicit as to all the different steps that must be done. Instead G-d instructs Moses to do what he did in a previous sacrifice. G-d did not want to be explicit because it would emphasize the wrong doing of what the Jewish people did. G-d looks at the Jewish people like his children. G-d empathizes with their pain and regret of their mistakes, an unconditional love that is expressed in an eternal covenant. How can such a transcendent love be expressed in the everyday life of this physical limited world? Let us look at the life of Eli Ageloff to understand this.

Eli Ageloff was born in 1907  in Brooklyn. His parents had witnessed and had escaped pogroms in Russia, Coming to America was a means of survival. The stability and anchor to get a job and put food on the table became their whole goal and focus. Eli married early to his childhood sweet heart Flora Weiser. On his honeymoon, Eli got sick and had to go to the hospital for intestinal problems. The doctors told Flora not to have children because Eli had a weak constitution and would not live long. Eli became a cab driver during the great depression and worked very long hours he usually got home at  2am. They had four children and were very poor, He was a very sweet and lovable husband and father. Before he would go on his shift on Sundays, he would take his children to the soda fountain shop to get them each an egg cream at a penny a piece. This was a big treat! His mother in law, Pauline, loved him like a son. Pauline worked in a sweat shop as a seamstress and earned enough money to get a ticket to a shul for the high holidays. She knew Eli loved the Yom kippur service and always gave him her ticket. Eli was always known as a mensch. He was very sincere and had a great sense of humor. He never complained and always tried to make things work out. From the cab driving he developed asthma and had terrible time breathing. As time went on he developed Emphysema and had to quit his job at a young age around 50. He always took pride in fulfilling his responsibility as the “breadwinner”. It was now a great disappointment to be in a position where his children had to support him and Flora. He must have felt that he let Flora down because now they could have had more time together because all their children were married. As a grandchild I used to visit him. I stayed over at  their apartment  over the weekends. He played board games with me. I was 8 but somehow I always won. At night, he never slept but paced back and forth because of his trouble breathing. My sister would come over too and he would teach her math. He always made jokes and made us feel very special. He had a very strong character and never looked at himself as a victim. He appreciated whatever G-d gave him. When he was very sick the doctors tried to prolong his life by putting him in an iron lung machine. Before he went to the hospital, I sang for him the 4 questions. Soon after. he passed away. On the night he passed, my mother had a dream that Eli and her were going up in an elevator. She dreamt, she was a little girl holding her fathers hand. When they got to a certain floor, the elevator door opened. She stepped out but he did not follow, he told her he must go and called her by her name very affectionately Rochel Leah and the doors of the elevator closed. Right after that She was woken up by a phone call to let her know that Eli passed away. He just had to say goodbye he was that type of person. When I got older, I decided to go to Yeshiva. This decision seemed to come from a guidance from above and has benefited my life greatly. After the first week there I had a dream. In the dream there was a voice that told me that the whole reason I had the merit of going to Yeshiva was because of my grandfather’s  service of Yom. At that time I did not know my grand father went to Shul for Yom Kippur especially when he was younger. I did not understand the dream but it seemed important. I asked my mother if her father had something special about Yom Kippur. Then she told me how he would make the special effort to  go to shul on Yom Kippur and how he loved that holiday. While I was going to Yeshiva in Brooklyn, My aunt Francis (Fege) also lived in Brooklyn and I would visit her. She was also very close to Eli, her father, as well.  I asked all about my grandfather and she knew how much I loved him. On one of my visits she told me that she  was given all his important possessions. She said I think he would want you to have them. She gave me a small plastic bag with a ring that a customer from his cab gave him and a prayer book; I opened it up and it was his Yom Kippur Machzor! How he loved G-d despite all his hardships. Eli transcended his circumstance, his beautiful soul shined through it all and I know G-d is hugging him.

Our Special Connections  is a project that takes the life experiences of our loved ones that have passed, and use them as a commentary on their portion of the Torah. The “Special Connection” is that your love one’s “commentary” provides an insight for people learning Torah and provides an everlasting legacy and elevation for the soul of that special person in your life! We are trying to make a special website that has these memories. Please share some memories with us of your loved ones, please call Leible at 518-894-3490.

Vayikra Aliyah Summary


General Overview: This week’s Torah reading, Vayikra, begins the third book of the Torah, Leviticus. Last week we completed the reading of the book of Exodus, which concluded with a description of the construction of the Tabernacle. This week’s portion will provide a description of the various sacrifices – animal, fowl, and meal-offerings – offered by the priests in this newly constructed Sanctuary.

First Aliyah: G‑d calls out to Moses from the Tabernacle and teaches him the laws of the elective burnt offering, the Olah sacrifice. This aliyah discusses the laws of the cattle, sheep, or goat Olah.

Second Aliyah: G‑d then teaches Moses the laws of the fowl Olah. This aliyah then continues with a description of three types of voluntary meal offerings: unbaked flour, baked loaves, and the shallow-fried meal offering. All voluntary meal offerings also contained olive oil and frankincense.

Third Aliyah: The Torah describes the last type of voluntary meal offerings — the deep-fried meal offering — and the mandatory barley offering, the Omer offering, brought on the second day of Passover. G‑d instructs the Jews to add salt to every animal sacrifice or meal offering, a symbol of our everlasting “salt covenant” with G‑d. We are also commanded not to include any leavened items or anything which contains honey in any Temple offering (there are two exclusions to the leaven prohibition).

Fourth Aliyah: The “Peace Offering,” the Shelamim sacrifice, is described in this Aliyah. The Shelamim — which could be brought from cattle, sheep, or goats — was shared by the altar, which consumed some of the animal’s fats, the Kohanim, and the donors of the sacrifice who were given the bulk of the meat. The aliyah ends with the prohibitions against consuming blood and the specific fats which were offered on the altar. These prohibitions apply to all animals, even those not offered in the Temple.

Fifth Aliyah: We now begin learning about the “Sin Offering,” the Chatat sacrifice, brought by an individual who is guilty of inadvertently transgressing a sin. This section discusses the unique Chatat sacrifices brought by a High Priest who sins, by the Sanhedrin (Jewish Supreme Court) who issue an erroneous ruling which causes the populace to sin, and a monarch who sins.

Sixth Aliyah: The Torah discusses the fourth and final type of Chatat, that of a common person who sins. Also discussed is the Korban Oleh Viyored, a “vacillating” Sin Offering, brought by an individual guilty of certain specific sins. The Korban Oleh Viyored depended on the financial position of the transgressor — a wealthy person brought a sheep or goat, a person of lesser means brought two birds, and a pauper brought a meal offering.

Seventh Aliyah: This section concludes the laws of the Korban Oleh Viyored. We then move on to the last sacrifice discussed in this week’s Torah reading, the “Guilt Offering,” the Asham Sacrifice. Three types of Asham Sacrifices are discussed: a) an Asham brought by one who inadvertently misappropriates Temple property. b) An Asham brought by one who falsely swears regarding money owed to another. (In addition to bringing a sacrifice, these two individuals must repay the principal amount, and pay a punitive fine equal to one fourth of the principal.) c) An Asham brought by a person who is uncertain whether he violated a Torah prohibition.

A Deeper Overview for Parshah Vayikra

From the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; adapted by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky

Leviticus is the third, and thus central, book of the Five Books of Moses. As such, its content forms the core of the Torah; in this sense, the Books of Genesis and Exodus can together be considered its prelude and the Books of Numbers and Deuteronomy its postlude.

The Book of Genesis describes why there had to be a Jewish people living in the Land of Israel. There was an original vision for creation, an opportunity that was missed; this set into motion a downward spiral of history that made it necessary for God to isolate a faithful core of humanity—Abraham’s family—to preserve, bear, and eventually re-announce His message to the world. The Book of Exodus describes how this family was made into “a kingdom of nobles and a holy nation,” and how the mechanisms whereby this nation could indeed bring the Divine Presence down to earth (i.e., the Torah, repentance, and the Tabernacle) were set up. The Book of Leviticus records the details of exactly how this end is to be achieved.

This notion is eloquently expressed by the very first word in the book, from which the whole book takes its Hebrew name: Vayikra, meaning “and He called.” The prefixed “and” immediately connects the beginning of Leviticus with the end of Exodus: “Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting since the cloud had rested on it and God’s glory filled the Tabernacle.”1 Since Moses could not enter himself, God called out to him, thereby enabling him to enter and bear the experience of His Glory in order to hear His message. This clearly indicates that the events recorded in the Book of Exodus were intended to set the stage for God to call Moses and convey to him the contents of the Book of Leviticus.

Furthermore, the usual way the Torah opens its descriptions of God talking to Moses is with the ubiquitous phrase, “God spoke to Moses, saying.” In the opening of the Book of Leviticus, however, before the variant of this phrase—“God spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying”—the Torah informs us that whenever “God spoke to Moses,” He first “called out to Moses,” implying that His communications with Moses were not merely for the purpose of laying down His law for humanity, but in order to call out to us, imploring us and challenging us to respond, asking us to treat the laws of the Torah not merely as dry obligations but as our common meeting-ground with Him. To emphasize this point, this opening phrase is not worded “God called out” but “He called out,” referring to God’s very essence, not to any aspect of Him that can be defined or circumscribed by any of His Names. It is God’s essence that calls out to us in the Book of Leviticus (and thence—since Leviticus is the Torah’s central core—from the rest of the Torah).

Thus, although there is very little dramatic “action” in the Book of Leviticus, it is here that the real “action” takes place: the inner life of the individual soul and the soul of the community in their communion with God. The Talmud compares studying the laws of Leviticus to slaying a lion,2 since it is the most difficult book of the Torah, filled with complex laws and intricate rules. But this, after all, is the essence of the Torah: its instructions for life. The final, summary verse of Leviticus expresses this theme as being that of the entire book: “These are the commandments that God commanded Moses to the Israelites on Mount Sinai.”

Leviticus, then, is the quintessential book of the Torah. It is therefore significant that it is not only the middle book of the Torah but the third book, for the number three expresses the essence of the Torah. The Torah is composed of three parts—the Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings; it was given in the third month of the Jewish calendar—Sivan; it was given to a nation of three classes—Priests, Levites, and Israelites; it was given after three days of preparation;3 and it was taught to the people by three siblings—Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.4 The number three signifies the synergy that results from the paradoxical but harmonious combination of the two elements of a duality, and this is the very essence of the Torah: it takes two opposing entities, the physical and the spiritual, and creates from them a third—the peaceful fusion of the mundane and the holy.5

The name of the first parashah of the book of Leviticus shares its Hebrew name—Vayikra (“and He called”)—with that of the book as a whole. In light of what we said above, this would imply that the principal way through which God calls us, and thus the essence of the entire Book of Leviticus (and therefore of the entire Torah), is contained in this parashah.

The subject matter of parashat Vayikra is the sacrifices. Although we will continue to use the words “sacrifice” and “offering” to refer to these rites, it should be kept in mind that their Hebrew name, korban, carries neither of these meanings, but means “getting close.” Our response to God’s call in the opening word of the parashah is our commensurate efforts to draw close to Him.

Although people generally associate sacrifices with atonement for sin, it is significant to note that the first half of this parashah’s discussion of sacrifices does not mention sin-offerings at all. The first sacrifices mentioned are voluntary offerings, which the individual brings to God out of an inner desire to draw closer to Him in some way.

Yet the fact that this parashah does include sin-offerings, and ends with the mention of sin, to boot—“And he will be forgiven for any one of all cases whereby one may commit a sin, incurring guilt through it”6—indicates that God’s affectionate and impassioned call to the Jewish people is addressed not only to the guiltless among us (or to any of us only when guiltless), but to all of us, at all times. Indeed, it is precisely because God’s essence calls out to us that it overlooks our spiritual state and instead speaks to our essence.

In this sense, parashat Vayikra is clearly an affirmation of the groundwork laid in the closing three parashiot of the preceding book, Exodus. It will be recalled that after the sin of the Golden Calf (in parashat Tisa), God taught Moses the sublime secret of teshuvah—repentance—i.e., how we can invoke our intrinsic connection with God in order to effect atonement for our sins, thereby ascending to a higher connection with God than we enjoyed before the sin. The fact that the Torah introduces the dynamic of teshuvah after the it gives the instructions for constructing the Tabernacle (in parashiot Terumah and Tetzaveh) but before they are carried out (in parashiot Vayakheil and Pekudei) implies that the actual Tabernacle should be infused with the dual consciousness of teshuvah: that repentance is, on the one hand, occasioned by a descent from the pristine vision of perfection, but on the other hand, leads to an even higher consummation of that vision.

And so, when the time comes to detail the intricate paths that penitent souls must follow on the path of teshuvah, when they once again draw close to God after some temporary estrangement from Him, God calls out to them from His sublime essence, too exalted to be alluded to by any Name, and, on the basis of that intrinsic connection between essence and essence, the process of restitution and rectification begins. It is thus in the forgiveness of sin—the closing note of parashat Vayikra—that the opening call from God’s essence reaches its fullest and most profound expression.7

As always, call us if you need anything
(518) 894-3490 Have a great Shabbos
Elisheva and Leible Morrison


The Beth Tephilah Family Bulletin
This week the parasha is
Parshat Vayakheil-Pekudei

We hope this bulletin finds you in good health!

 Here are some interesting “Tidbits” from the schmooze table we would like to share:

🤣The beloved rabbi was on his deathbed, and life was slowly ebbing away.  Around the bed was a group of sorrowing disciples who felt the coming loss keenly and who talked in whispers among themselves of the manifold virtues of the old man now leaving them.

One said, “So pious, so pious!  Which of the many commandments of the Law did he fail to keep?  Where at any point did he deviate in the slightest from the commandments of God?” And another mourned, “And so learned.  The vast commentaries of the rabbis of the past were, so to speak, imprinted on his brain.  At any moment, he could call to mind some saying which would illuminate any possible theological question.” Still a third said, “And so charitable, so generous.  Where was the poor man whom he did not help?  Who in town is ignorant of his kindness?  Why he kept for himself only enough to hold body and soul together.” But as this litany of praise continued, a faint tremor appeared on the rabbi’s face.  It became obvious that he was trying to say something.  All the disciples leaned forward, with pent breath, to hear those last words.

Faintly, from the rabbinical lips, there came the words:  “Piety, learning, charity!  And of my great modesty you say nothing?”


 Three rabbis were talking over a regular Sunday morning breakfast get-together.
Rabbi Ginsberg says, “We have such a problem with mice at our schul. The shammos sets all kinds of baited traps but they kept coming back. Do either of you learned men know how I can get rid of these vermin?”
The second rabbi, Rabbi Cohen, replied, “We have the same problem at our synagogue, we’ve spent all kinds of gelt on exterminators but the problem still persists. Any suggestions?”
The third rabbi, Rabbi Slosberg, looked at Rabbi Ginsberg and Rabbi Cohen and told the following story:
“Rabbis, we had the same problem with mice at our synagogue. We tried traps, exterminators, even prayers; but nothing worked. Then one Shabbos after services were over a brilliant idea came into my mind.
The next Shabbos I went to the synagogue about an hour before services started. I brought a big wheel of yellow cheese and placed it in the center of the bima. Well, soon, hundreds of mice appeared on the bima and headed for the cheese. While they were feasting on the cheese, I bar-mitzvahed all of them.
I have never seen any of them in schul again!” 


Two Jewish men were walking their dogs near shule one Shabbes morning when they smelt the aroma of a cholent kiddush wafting up from the shule’s kitchen.
The first one said “Let’s go inside.”
The other replied, “What about our dogs?”
The first guy answered, “Just follow my lead.”
The first guy enters the shule, puts one of the shule’s kippas on his head and is confronted by the shammes:
“You can’t come into the shule with a dog.”
The guy replies “This is my seeing eye dog” and is allowed in.
The second guy comes in, grabs a kippa and is also accosted by the shammes about the dog.
This guy also says that it is a seeing eye dog.
The shammes screams out that the dog is a chihuahua.
The guy answers, “Is that what they gave me ?” 



Story of the week

“ Everything is perspective”

Life is What You Put Into It…

A little boy is telling his Grandma how everything is going wrong. School, family problems, severe health problems, etc..

Meanwhile, Grandma is baking a cake. She asks her grandson if he would like a snack, which, of course, he does.

“Here, have some cooking oil.”

“Yuck” says the boy.

“How about a couple raw eggs? ”

“Gross, Grandma!”

“Would you like some flour then? Or maybe baking soda?”

“Grandma, those are all yucky!”

To which Grandma replies: “Yes, all those things seem bad all by themselves. But when they are put together in the right way, they make a wonderfully delicious cake!

G-d works the same way. Many times we wonder why he would let us go through such bad and difficult times.

But, G-d knows that when He puts these things all in

His order, they always work for good. We just have to trust Him and, eventually, they will all make something wonderful!”

G-d is Crazy About You. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, He’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and He chose your heart.

Hope your day is a “piece of cake!

Our Special Connection Of the week

Chava Kudan A”H

Chava Kudan A”H passed away on the seventh portion of the Parasha Pekudei. In this portion, the Torah describes how Moses put together the entire Mishkan. When this was completed, the Clouds of Glory hovered over the Mishkan. Whenever the Jewish people would travel in the desert, they took their cue from the Clouds of Glory. The one cloud that would rest on top of the Mishkan would roll itself up like a pillar and lead the people until it spread itself out on the place they were supposed to encamp. There were seven clouds of glory in all, each of them having different functions to help and protect the Jewish people from the harsh elements and obstacles in the desert and the enemy nations.

According to the book called the Tanya, in a certain sense these Clouds of Glory surround us even nowadays. Everyone in life experiences obstacles and hindrances that seem insurmountable. Spiritually, these obstacles are called “Peaks of Separation”. What makes our obstacles overwhelming is the perception that G-d did not create them and they are separate from G-d. But when a person has a big picture perspective of how G-d runs the world; then the obstacles and hindrances of life are put into perspective as all being according to G-d’s plan. The obstacles then become absorbed by this perspective, much like the clouds protected us in the desert.

Once we can train ourselves to look at the world with the view that everything comes from G-d than we become surrounded by the Clouds of Glory. With the strength of this perspective we can cope and not “fall apart” from life’s very difficult situations. Even though Moses finished the initial construction of the Mishkan many years ago, its expression into this world can be accomplished through our ability to apply our G-dly perspective. This perspective is maintained and strengthened through consistency and structure. This strength manifested itself in the consistency of the everyday functions in the Mishkan for 40 years in the desert and in both Holy Temples for over 820 years! This strength also manifests itself by the spiritual sanctuary that rests within every Jew. Our inner spark of G-dliness gives us the strength of perspective to maintain our traditions consistently for over 3000 years, making us the longest living religion on the face of the earth!

Having a true G-dly perspective is shown best through consistency in everyday living. This is an internalized strength that is not subject to impulse but governed by the responsibility “to do what is right”. How is this concept of perspective manifest in our everyday life? Let us look at the life of Chava Kudan A”H.

Chava Kudan was born to emigrant parents in the Bronx in 1929. She went to public school through high school and then trained and became a secretary. She had a traditional Jewish background and her father was a kosher butcher. Her husband, Mordechai Kudan A”H, came from Glens Falls, New York. After serving in the army in WWII he found a job as a machinist in Long Island where he met Chava. They got married and raised three boys in Massapequa, Long island where they were able to buy a house and live comfortably. The kids went to school in walking distance. Chava was a stay at home mom. Dinner was on the table at a certain time and bedtime for the children was very consistent as well. Chava played mahjong with her friends. Social outings for Chava consisted of taking the kids shopping for clothes, going with her husband food shopping or visiting her parents or her in-laws.

Judaism was a definite part of Chava’s and Mordechai’s life. They were very active in their local synagogue, and they kept a traditional Jewish home. Chava conscientiously kept a kosher home where traditional Shabbat and Jewish holiday meals were served. She was not the center of attention, she was not famous, she was quiet and modest. But she was an anchor that her family could count on. Her sense of responsibility towards her Jewishness and her upright values were so ingrained in the way she conducted her life; that her family’s conscious reality (perspective) was “this is the way it is” in their approach to life. This is the application of a G-dly perspective, a Clouds of Glory perspective, that has kept our Jewish legacy so strong!

Editors note: I never realized the meaning of “One person’s coming close to G-d is not only a healing to himself but to the whole world” until I learned from the character traits of Chava Kudan. A person’s sincere conviction of goodness in how they run their life, stems from a certain reality that person sees. This becomes a great resource for the world, because people around that person will be able to apply by example and acquire that reality for themselves and in turn influence a bigger circle of people and they to their families for generations to come!

Our Special Connections  is a project that takes the life experiences of our loved ones that have passed, and use them as a commentary on their portion of the Torah. The “Special Connection” is that your love one’s “commentary” provides an insight for people learning Torah and provides an everlasting legacy and elevation for the soul of that special person in your life! We are trying to make a special website that has these memories. Please share some memories with us of your loved ones, please call Leible at 518-894-3490.

Vayakheil-Pekudei Aliyah Summary


General Overview: In this week’s portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei, Moses gathers the Jews and relays to them all the details regarding the construction of the Tabernacle, its vessels, and the priestly garments. The actual construction and assembly is also described. This portion repeats many of the details described in the portions of Terumah and Tetzaveh, wherein G‑d instructed Moses regarding the assembly of all these objects. The Tabernacle is erected, and G‑d’s presence dwells therein.

First Aliyah: On the day after Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the Second Tablets, after successfully securing atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, he gathered all the Jewish people. The primary purpose of this assembly was to inform the Jews of G‑d’s desire for a Sanctuary to be constructed. He began, however, with a brief reminder regarding the observance of the Shabbat. This was followed by a description of the materials needed to construct the Tabernacle, and a list of the vessels, Tabernacle parts, and priestly garments which were to be produced. The men and women came forward and generously donated all the materials which Moses enumerated.

Second Aliyah: Moses announces G‑d’s choice of Bezalel and Oholiab to serve as foremen of the Tabernacle construction project, and he transfers to them all the donated materials. The people, however, continued donating generously, until the craftspeople report to Moses that they have more than enough materials to complete their task, causing Moses to issue a proclamation requesting everyone to cease donating materials. The craftspeople began their work. The tapestries which covered the Tabernacle were assembled, and the craftspeople construct the Tabernacle wall panels, their sockets, the curtains which covered the entrance to the sanctuary and which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary, the Ark, and the Showbread Table.

Third Aliyah: This aliyah describes the construction of the menorah (candelabra) and the Incense Altar. The anointing oil and the incense are also prepared.

Fourth Aliyah: The Tabernacle’s construction is capped off with the construction of the Outer Altar, the copper wash basin, the mesh curtains which surrounded the Tabernacle courtyard, and the beams and hooks which anchored them. The Torah then gives an exact accounting of the amounts of gold, silver and copper donated for the construction of the Tabernacle, as well as the vessels and building materials constructed with these supplies.

Fifth Aliyah: The High Priest’s ephod — a reversed apron which covered the back — and its precious-stone-studded shoulder straps were made. The High Priest’s Choshen Mishpat (“Breastplate of Judgment”) was assembled. It contained four rows of precious stones, each row containing three stones. Artisans engraved the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel upon these twelve stones. The Choshen Misphat was then secured by straps which connected it to the ephod.

Sixth Aliyah: The rest of the priestly garments were completed: The High Priest’s me’il (blue robe adorned with golden bells and cloth “pomegranates”) and tzitz (a golden band worn on the forehead, which was engraved with the words “Holy to G‑d”); and the four garments worn by both the High Priest and the regular priests: tunics, turbans, sashes and pants. With this, the construction of the Tabernacle and all its vessels and accoutrement were finished. The craftspeople brought their finished products to Moses. Moses saw that all the work had been done exactly to G‑d’s specifications, and he blessed the workers.

Seventh Aliyah: G‑d instructed Moses to erect the Tabernacle on the first of Nissan. G‑d also instructed Moses to place all the Tabernacle’s vessels in their proper places, and to anoint all of the items with the anointing oil, thus sanctifying them. Moses is also directed to dress Aaron and his sons in the priestly garments, and to anoint them, too. When Moses finished this task a Cloud of Glory and the Divine Presence filled the Tabernacle. This cloud also served as the Jews’ guide throughout their desert sojourn: when the cloud lifted, the people would travel, following the cloud until it rested, where they would set up camp until the cloud would lift again.

A Deeper Overview for Parshah Vayakheil-Pekudei

From the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe; adapted by Moshe Yaakov Wisnefsky


The last two parashiot of the Book of Exodus, Vayakheil and Pekudei, relate how Moses and the people fulfilled God’s instructions to build the Tabernacle, furnish it, and make the garments for the priests who would officiate in it. In most years, these two parashiot are read together.

Specifically, parashat Vayakheil opens with Moses informing the people that working on the Tabernacle does not supersede the Sabbath. He then tells them what materials God has asked them to donate and calls for volunteers to do the work. The people bring their donations and the artisans begin their work. The Torah is essentially here repeating parashat Terumah, only changing the predominant verb from “you shall make” to “he made.” Similarly, much of parashat Pekudei is a repetition of the first half of parashat Tetzaveh with similar verb changes.

Rather than repeating so much of Terumah and Tetzaveh, the Torah could easily have summarized most of the action in Vayakheil and Pekudei in a few sentences. The fact that it does go into all the details means that there is a fundamental difference between the commands to build the Tabernacle and their implementation.

As we have seen, Moses was born with an innate, keen spiritual sensitivity. Besides this, he was granted a level of prophecy more sublime than that of any prophet before or after him. Finally, God gave Moses the commands to build the Tabernacle when he was on Mount Sinai and God had elevated him to a uniquely lofty spiritual level of existence. Clearly, then, Moses received and understood these commands in a very abstract, ethereal way. He “saw” the Tabernacle and its accoutrements in an extremely idealized form, even though he of course understood that they were meant to take on physical form as well.

In contrast, the Tabernacle described in these parashiot is consummately physical. The description of how the people donated the materials, tallied them, fashioned them into the various components and furnishings, brought them to Moses, and rested from work every Sabbath, leaves no doubt that a palpable, physical Tabernacle was being constructed—notwithstanding any coexistent spiritual dimension it might have possessed.

It is in order to highlight the difference between the abstract and the concrete Tabernacles that the Torah details the construction of the Tabernacle in these two parashiot. The difference is important because the “lower,” physical Tabernacle is the fulfillment of God’s will to make this world His home—not the abstract, idealized Tabernacle Moses envisioned on Mount Sinai.

* * *

The name of the parashahVayakheil—means “and he assembled,” referring to how Moses assembled the people when he came down from Mount Sinai to transmit God’s command to build the Tabernacle. The verb “to assemble” differs from synonyms that mean “to collect,” “to gather,” and so forth, in that it signifies bringing together disparate entities to form a collective whole.

This word aptly describes how Moses gathered the people when he transmitted these commands, since the people had to build the Tabernacle as a collective whole, not as individuals. The Tabernacle’s purpose was to enable God’s presence to dwell among the entirety of the Jewish people. In order to fulfill this role, the wealth and materials the people donated had to become “community wealth,” which meant that the people had to be “assembled” into a cohesive unit.

But as a name for the entire parashahVayakheil seems inappropriate, inasmuch as most of the parashah is devoted to detailing the particulars of the Tabernacle, as we said, emphasizing the importance of each detail.

The answer to this apparent contradiction is that yes, each component of the Tabernacle possessed a unique holiness and fulfilled a unique function, but only when it became part of the Tabernacle as a whole. The Candelabrum, for example, functioned as the Candelabrum and fulfilled its spiritual functions only when it was placed in the Tabernacle together with all the other furnishings.

* * *

The lessons in the name Vayakheil, then, are as follows: First of all, all Jews are part of the whole Jewish people, a collective reality necessary for God’s purposes on earth to be fulfilled. No Jew is too high or too low on the ladder of spiritual status to work together with every other Jew, since they are all part of the same one, collective whole. Second, every Jew is essential to the community, just as every detail of the Tabernacle was essential to its operation. Third, although we all have our individual, intrinsic worth, this unique identity does not truly assert itself until we identify with the Jewish people as a whole, just as the individual components of the Tabernacle did not begin to function until the entire edifice was erected.

Finally, this parashah teaches us that despite our own shortcomings and the imperfect nature of the reality we live in, we should never feel too inadequate to fulfill God’s will. It was the real-world Tabernacle that the people built, not Moses’ abstract, ideal Tabernacle on Mount Sinai, that God chose to dwell in. If we act with warmth, sincerity, and enthusiasm, God crowns our efforts with success, and dwells in the Tabernacle we build Him out of our lives.1


Parashat Pekudei begins with a tally of all the materials collected for making the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and the garments of the priests. The first half details how the artisans made the priestly garments, essentially repeating the first half of parashat Tetzaveh, but changing the predominant verb from “you shall make” to “they made.”

As we saw with regard to the preceding parashahVayakheil, this apparent redundancy is intended to underscore the difference between Moses’ abstract and idealized vision of the Tabernacle with the physical Tabernacle the people constructed. This point is made in order to emphasize, in turn, that it is the physical Tabernacle that fulfills God’s will to make this world His home.

The second half of the parashah describes how the artisans brought everything to Moses, how God commanded Moses to erect the Tabernacle on the 1st of Nisan, and how Moses erected it on the designated day and the cloud that manifested God’s presence descended on it.

* * *

The name of this parashahPekudei—means “the tallies of,” referring to the tallies of the materials the people brought to Moses in order to build the Tabernacle. Like the name of the previous parashahVayakheil, this parashah’s name refers to a mass of individual entities, but while the word Vayakheil (“And he assembled”) describes how these units combine to form a collective whole, the word Pekudei highlights each entity’s identity as a discrete unit that is counted separately.

Just as with parashat Vayakheil, the name of parashat Pekudei seems inconsistent with its contents. Although it contains the details of how the artisans made the priestly garments, the greater part of the parashah describes the three stages of how all the various people’s donations were combined into one organic whole: how they were brought to Moses, how God commanded Moses to erect the Tabernacle, and how he actually did so.

The answer, as it was with the similar difficulty with parashat Vayakheil, is that each component of the Tabernacle possesses a unique holiness and fulfills a unique function, but only by virtue of it being a part of the Tabernacle as a whole. Only once the entire Tabernacle has been constructed and every piece is in place does each component assume its unique role and become endowed with its spiritual effectiveness.

* * *

The lesson from the parashah’s name is, first and foremost, that each of us possesses intrinsic worth that makes us an equal to every other individual of the Jewish people, notwithstanding our position on the ladder of spirituality. The two parashiot Vayakheil and Pekudei thus teach us the same lesson—Jewish unity—from opposite perspectives. From Vayakheil we learn that each of us is part of the whole; from Pekudei we learn that each of us has intrinsic value as an individual.

Secondly, the fact that the Tabernacle’s components only began to function once the entire Tabernacle was in place reminds us that whatever work we do on behalf of the community is not only for the community’s collective good, but also to enable us to fulfill our unique, individual Divine purposes, as well.

* * *

Thus,the twin parashiot of Vayakheil and Pekudei consolidate the overall theme of the Book of Exodus—Shemot, the “names,” or “identity” of the Jewish people as a whole and as individuals. This fusion of our individual and communal identities is an essential facet of redemption in general—the other great theme of the Book of Exodus. Jewish unity is firstly the key to redemption:2 inasmuch as baseless hatred was the chief cause of the exile, brotherly love is its logical remedy. Secondly, the redemption itself will occur in a way that emphasizes our simultaneous individual and communal identities: we will be redeemed as a nation, as it is said, “A great congregation will return here,”3 but in addition, “You will be gathered one by one.”4

As always, call us if you need anything
(518) 894-3490 Have a great Shabbos
Elisheva and Leible Morrison


The Beth Tephilah Family Bulletin

This week the parasha is

Ki tisa

We hope this bulletin finds you in good health!

 Here are some interesting “Tidbits” from the schmooze table we would like to share:

A shadken (matchmaker) goes to see a poor man and says, “I want to arrange a marriage for your son.”The poor man replies, “I never interfere in my son’s life.”
The shadken responds, “But the girl is Lord Rothschild’s daughter.”
“Well, in that case…”
Next, the shadken approaches Lord Rothschild. “I have a husband for your daughter.”
“But my daughter is too young to marry.”
“But this young man is already a vice president of the World Bank.”
“Ah, in that case…”
Finally, the shadken goes to see the president of the World Bank. “I have a young man to recommend to you as a vice president.”
“But I already have more vice presidents than I need.”
“But this young man is Lord Rothschild’s son-in-law.”
“Ah, in that case….”……………………………………….

A Jewish man passing through Texas for a few day stay on business checked into a rooming house in a very what you would call a frontier town.

Not to be conspicuous, he dressed himself in western attire and went in to the only saloon in town. He was surrounded by men in cowboy clothes, wearing six shooters and looking very gruff. He ordered a beer.

While sipping his beer and trying to be as inconspicuous as possible the biggest burliest, scroungiest looking specimen walks in and proclaims, “Ah, hears there is a Jew in here!”  The Jewish man cringes, says nothing. “Ah know you’re in here and you better speak up,” says the western man. 

The Jewish man knows that sooner or later he would have to face up to him and accept the consequences of being Jewish especially in such a remote place as this.

He stands up proudly and says,” I AM A JEW!”  The westerner stares at him angrily, “What the HELL are you hiding for?  Come with me, ah needs you for a minyan.”…………………………………………………

Three Jewish Mothers were sitting around comparing notes on their exemplary offspring. “There never was a daughter more devoted than my Judy,” said Mrs. Levine with a sniff.  “Every summer she takes me to the Catskills for a week, and every winter we spend a week at Delray Beach.”

“That’s nothing compared to what my Lois does for me,” declared Mrs. Stein proudly.  “Every winter she treats me to two weeks in Miami, and in the summer two weeks in the Hamptons, in my own private guest house.” Mrs. Lipkin sat back with a proud smile.  “Nobody loves her mother like my Patty does, nobody.” So what does she do?”  asked the two women, turning to her.

“Three times a week she gets into a cab, goes to the best psychiatrist in the city, and pays him a hundred and fifty dollars an hour—just to talk about me.”


Told in a heavy foreign accent………..
Sam’s grandfather is visiting America, from Europe, for the very first time.  He goes up & down the aisles with his grandson, at the local Food Store.
“Vas diss?  Powdered Orange Juice?”
“Yeh, Grandpa.  You just add a little water, and you have fresh ‘orange juice’.”
……… a few minutes later, in a different aisle ……..
<“Und vas dis?  Powdered milk?”
“Yeh, Grandpa.  You just add a little water, and you have fresh milk!”
…….. a few minutes later, in a different aisle ……..
“Und give a look here!  Baby Powder!  Vat a country, vat a country!”

Story of the week

“ a bond of essence”

Stop telling G-d how big your storm is. Instead, tell your storm how big your G-D is.

In Phoenix, Arizona, a 26-year-old mother stared down at her 6 year old son, who was dying of a terminal disease. Although her heart was filled with sadness, she also had a strong feeling of determination. Like any parent, she wanted her son to grow up and fulfill all his dreams.

Now that was no longer possible..

The disease would see to that. But she still wanted her son’s dreams to come true.

She took her son’s hand and asked, “Billy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?”

Mommy, “I always wanted to be a fireman when I grew up.”

Mom smiled back and said, “Let’s see if we can make your wish come true.”

Later that day she went to her local fire department in Phoenix, Arizona, where she met Fireman Bob, who had a heart as big as Phoenix.

She explained her son’s final wish and asked if it might be possible to give her six-year-old son a ride around the block on a fire engine.

Fireman Bob said, “Look, we can do better than that. If you’ll have your son ready at seven o’clock Wednesday morning, we’ll make him an honorary fireman for the whole day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards! And if you’ll give us his sizes, we’ll get a real fire uniform for him, with a real fire hat-not a toy one-with the emblem of the Phoenix Fire Department on it, a yellow slicker like we wear and rubber boots. They’re all manufactured right here in Phoenix, so we can get them fast.”

Three days later Fireman Bob picked up Billy, dressed him in his fire uniform and escorted him from his hospital bed to the waiting hook and ladder truck. Billy got to sit on the back of the truck and help steer it back to the fire station.

He was in heaven. There were three fire calls in Phoenix that day and Billy got to go out on all three calls. He rode in the different fire engines, the paramedic’s van, and even the fire chief’s car.

He was also videotaped for the local news program. Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, so deeply touched Billy that he lived three months longer than any doctor thought possible.

One night all of his vital signs began to drop dramatically and the head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital.

Then she remembered the day Billy had spent as a fireman, so she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Billy as he made his transition. The chief replied, “We can do better than that. We’ll be there in five minutes.

Will you please do me a favor?

When you hear the sirens screaming and see the lights flashing, will you announce over the PA system that there is not a fire? It’s just the fire department coming to see one of its finest members one more time.

And will you open the window to his room?

About five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Billy’s third floor open window 16 firefighters climbed up the ladder into Billy’s room. With his mother’s permission, they hugged him and held him and told him how much they loved him. With his dying breath, Billy looked up at the fire chief and said,

“Chief, am I really a fireman now?”

“Billy, you are, and the Head Chief, G-d, is holding your hand,” the chief said.

With those words, Billy smiled and said, “I know, He’s been holding my hand all day, and the angels have been singing.”

He closed his eyes one last time.

Stop telling G-d how big your storm is.

Instead, tell your storm how big your G-D is

Our Special Connection Of the week

Robert m. Levine A”H

Robert M. Levine A”H passed away on the first portion of the Parasha of Tezaveh. In this portion, the name of Moses is not mentioned. This is very strange because after the birth of Moses, he is mentioned in every other Parasha up to the last book of the Torah. In this portion the relationship that Moses has with G-d is on such a high level that it is closer than the use of a name. When a person is talking one to one with another person whom they have a very close relationship in a very deep way, the use of a name is not used because a name cannot capture the essence of a person. In this Parasha, G-d’s closeness is bringing out Moses’s essence and through his essence he can relate to the essence of every Jew. Once He is able to see through the superficial differences that we all have; he can unify each and every one of us into a people that is bound to G-d in a very deep way. G-d’s essence shines through every structure and garment that is used in the Temple. Bob Levine’s portion also tells how the Menorah was lit with olive oil. Olives were pressed to bring out their clear pure oil. This oil is like the essence that is hidden in a physical covering. To reveal the essense there has to be some catalyst to open up this covering. The Menorah was a vessel used to express this essence. Every Jew has an essence that can be expressed but is hidden like the olive oil. How can we understand this hidden essence that each of us have and how can it be expressed in our physical experience. To understand this let us look at the character and life experiences of Robert M. Levine A”H.

Bob Levine was born in Troy, New York in 1925. His father ran a grocery store in Lansingburgh. He graduated from Lansingburgh High and later joined the Army. He served in World War II for several years. When he came home, he was introduced to the funeral  profession  through a friend whom he met while in the Army. As a giving and caring person, Bob took an interest in the funeral profession, enrolling in the mortuary science program at the New York City School of Mortuary Science.   As a young married couple he and his wife Phyllis moved to NYC so Bob could start his career. Phyllis, a registered nurse also found employment in NYC .. Bob was very motivated and worked his way into a managerial position at Riverside. He later returned to the Capital District   and founded the Levine Memorial Chapel. He became very active in the Capital District Jewish Community, serving on many boards and was a member of several organizations.  . Not an easy profession, as a funeral director he was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Bob dedicated his life to serving and comforting families at their time of need.

A death in the family or even a good friend G-d forbid causes a great change in a loved one’s perception. Descriptions of normal, stable, and secure just don’t fit anymore. Even your concept of self is not the same, because the passing of a loved one is the loss of a reflection of how you looked at yourself through his eyes. You can grope for anchors to cope but who will take care of this body that is now empty, that hurts so much to see? Who will enable you to move on? To truly start this healing process all the components of the funeral process that have to be put in place. During this time a person’s heart is torn wide open. He feels very vulnerable. At this moment, Bob Levine steps in. No matter what time of day, he is dressed in a very respectful way with a conservative suit and tie. . His focus is helping a family navigate through this very difficult time. Bob may or may not say any anecdotes or a eulogy but he is there and he is very concerned. The person feels this, the words don’t matter. He is there to do what the person cannot. Every step of the way he is a support for the whole family, knowing that Bob will take care of everything. During this time, a bond of essence is formed; The catalyst is Bob’s deep focus and concern holding on to this person’s heart. This transcends any physical boundaries, one soul to another. Bob had many true friends that lasted for life. This gives us a glimpse of the strength of the bond that Moses had with his people as a leader and advocate, soul to soul.

Our Special Connections  is a project that takes the life experiences of our loved ones that have passed, and use them as a commentary on their portion of the Torah. The “Special Connection” is that your love one’s “commentary” provides an insight for people learning Torah and provides an everlasting legacy and elevation for the soul of that special person in your life! We are trying to make a special website that has these memories. Please share some memories with us of your loved ones, please call Leible at 518-894-3490.

Ki Tisa Aliyah Summary


General Overview: The portion discusses the census of the Israelites, the washbasin of the Tabernacle, the anointing oils for the priests and kings, the incense offering, and the Sabbath. The Torah then relates the story of the Golden Calf, G‑d’s anger at the Jewish nation, Moses successfully arguing for Divine forgiveness for the sin, the subsequent breaking of the tablets, and the giving of the second tablets.

First Aliyah: G‑d commands Moses to take a census of the Jewish adult male population by collecting an atonement offering of half a silver shekel from each individual. The collected silver was melted down, and was made into sockets for the beams of the Tabernacle. G‑d instructs Moses to make a copper washstand for the Tabernacle. The priests would use this laver to wash their hands and feet before their service. G‑d tells Moses the recipe for making holy “anointing oil.” This oil, which was prepared with various aromatic herbs and fine spices, was used to anoint and sanctify the Tabernacle, its vessels, and Aaron and his sons. The remainder of the oil was put aside, and was used to anoint kings and high priests of future generations. G‑d also gives Moses the formula for the incense which was offered twice-daily in the Tabernacle. The duplication of the anointing oil or incense for personal use is prohibited. G‑d imbues Bezalel with wisdom, and appoints him to be the chief craftsman of the Tabernacle and its contents. G‑d appoints Oholiab as his assistant. This lengthy aliyah concludes with G‑d telling the Jewish people to observe the Shabbat, the eternal sign between Him and the Children of Israel.

Second Aliyah: After G‑d revealed Himself to the entire nation at Mount Sinai and told them the Ten Commandments, Moses ascended the mountain where he remained for forty days. There he was to study the Torah and receive the Tablets. The Jews miscalculate when Moses is supposed to return, and when he doesn’t appear on the day when they anticipate him, they grow impatient and demand of Aaron to make for them a new god. Aaron cooperates, all along intending to postpone and buy time until Moses’ return, but despite his efforts, a Golden Calf emerges from the flames. The festivities and sacrifices start early next morning. Moses pleads with an incensed G‑d to forgive the Jews’ sin. G‑d acquiesces and relents from His plan to annihilate the Jews. Moses comes down with the Tablets, sees the idolatrous revelry, and breaks the Tablets. Moses enlists the Tribe of Levi to punish the primary offenders. Three thousand idol worshippers are executed on that day. Moses ascends Mount Sinai again, in an attempt to gain complete atonement for the sin. G‑d tells Moses to lead the Jews towards the Promised Land, but insists that He won’t be leading them personally; instead an angel will be dispatched to lead them. Seeing G‑d’s displeasure with the Jews, Moses takes his own tent and pitches it outside the Israelite encampment. This tent becomes the center of study and spirituality until the Tabernacle is inaugurated.

Third Aliyah: Moses asks G‑d to reconsider the matter of the angel leading them. G‑d reconsiders, and agrees to lead them Himself again. Moses then requests that G‑d’s presence never manifest itself on any other nation other than the Jews.

Fourth Aliyah: G‑d’s agrees to Moses’ request that His presence only dwell amongst the Jews. Moses requests to be shown G‑d’s glory. G‑d agrees, but informs Moses that he will only be shown G‑d’s “back,” not G‑d’s “face.”

Fifth Aliyah: G‑d tells Moses to carve new tablets upon which G‑d will engrave the Ten Commandments. Moses takes the new tablets up to Mt. Sinai, where G‑d reveals His glory to Moses while proclaiming His Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.

Sixth Aliyah: G‑d seals a covenant with Moses, assuring him again that His presence will only dwell with the Jews. G‑d informs the Jewish people that He will drive the Canaanites from before them. He instructs them to destroy all vestiges of idolatry from the land, and to refrain from making any covenants with its current inhabitants. The Jews are then commanded not to make molten gods, to observe the three festivals, not to eat chametz on Passover, to sanctify male firstborn humans and cattle, and not to cook meat together with milk.

Seventh Aliyah: Moses descends Mount Sinai with the second tablets, and unbeknownst to him beams of light were projecting off his face. Aaron and the people are originally afraid of him. Moses teaches the people the Torah he studied on the mountain. Moses wears a veil on his face from that time on, but removes it when speaking to G‑d and when repeating G‑d’s words to the people.

Maftir: This is called Parashat Parah and is one of the 4 extra Shabbos readings said before Passover. This reading is all about the purification that comes from the ashes of the red heffer,

A Deeper Overview for Parashah  Ki Tisa

From the Lubavitcher Rebbe

The subject matter of parashat Ki Tisa is problematic from several perspectives. The parashah begins with a miscellany of details regarding the priestly service in the Tabernacle:

  1. the half-shekel tax used to finance the communal sacrifices,
  2. the laver, last of the Tabernacle’s vessels,
  3. the special oil used to anoint the vessels and the priests,
  4. the ingredients of the incense,
  5. the appointment of the chief artisans who would fashion the Tabernacle and its accoutrements, and
  6. the commandment not to violate the Sabbath in the course of constructing the Tabernacle.

After this, the Torah leaves the subject of the Tabernacle and resumes the narrative of the Giving of the Torah it left off at the end of parashat Mishpatim. There is a brief description of the first Tablets, and then we are abruptly plunged into the horrifying, grotesque episode of the Golden Calf and its tragic aftermath. This is followed by the reconciliation between God and the people negotiated by Moses, which includes some of the most mystical moments in the Torah and culminates in the revelation of God’s thirteen attributes of mercy, the renewal of the covenant, and Moses’ final descent from Mount Sinai with the second Tablets.

In addition to these sudden, jolting switches between extreme depravity and sublime transcendence, the whole parashah seems out of place. The first part—the final details of the Tabernacle—would seem to be better placed in Terumah and/or Tetzaveh. The second part—the Golden Calf and its aftermath—seemingly belongs after Yitro and Mishpatim. Moreover, a look ahead reveals that the next two parashiot (Vayakheil and Pekudei), which conclude the Book of Exodus, return once again to the subject of the Tabernacle, describing how it was actually constructed. The story of the Golden Calf is thus plucked out of its rightful place as the segue to the giving of the Torah and instead sandwiched in between the instructions for constructing the Tabernacle and their implementation. Why is this?

A clue to all this may be found in the name of this parashahKi Tisa. Literally, these words mean “when you raise up”; the entire phrase is: “when you raise up the heads of the Israelites.” Although the idiomatic meaning of these words is “when you take the census of the Israelites,” the literal meaning implies that the entire contents of the parashah are a process through which the Jewish people become elevated to heights they would not have achieved otherwise. To put it more bluntly: even after the purpose of creation was seemingly consummated by the giving of the Torah (Yitro and Mishpatim) and the institution of the Tabernacle (Terumah and Tetzaveh), there are still higher levels of this goal that remain to be reached.

Perhaps the most difficult question in this parashah is: how could the Jewish people, after having witnessed the power of God demonstrated in the ten plagues and the Splitting of the Sea and after having received the Torah at Mount Sinai a mere forty days before, commit the sin of the Golden Calf? Although there were many mitigating factors that make their apparent sin much less heinous than a cursory reading of the text of the Torah would imply, the fact still remains that, in the Talmud’s words: “Israel was not capable of committing such an act!” The Talmud’s answer is that “the whole affair was God’s decree, in order to set a precedent for the penitent.”1 In other words, God maneuvered the Jewish people into this sin in order that they repent for it and come to know the sweetness of reconciliation.

The paradox of sin is that repentance makes it possible to forge a greater connection with God than was possible prior to the sin. Before sinning, an individual’s relationship with God need only be strong enough to keep him on track; as long as he reminds himself that there is a God in the world who requires him to do xy, and z, he will have no problem doing what is required of him. He is happy, stimulated, and inspired and is growing and developing spiritually in his relationship with God. Once he sins, however, he is confronted with the stark realization that, as perfect as this relationship may have seemed, it was neither strong enough nor deep enough to keep him from sinning (the proof being, of course, that he just sinned). By his choice, he demonstrated—at least on the level of consciousness on which he was functioning—that the enticement of this sin meant more to him than his commitment to God.

He must therefore delve into himself in order to find a place in his soul where God means more to him than the pleasure or fulfillment this indulgence seemed to offer him. This exercise in deepening his consciousness and awareness of God and re-establishing his relationship with Him at this new, deeper level is called teshuvah (“returning” to God) and is the essence of repentance. If the teshuvah is real, the individual will have reached a place within himself where his relationship and commitment to God are now so strong that he will no longer be able to commit the sin he is repenting for. Obviously, the more serious the sin, the greater the teshuvah required, and the deeper the resulting bond between the individual and God.

Also obviously, this process works only if the individual sins “accidentally,” as though in a state of “temporary insanity.” One cannot intentionally set out to sin in order to achieve a deeper and higher relationship to God, for doing this would prove nothing about the inadequacy of his present connection to God and the necessity to deepen it. It only works if Divine providence, so to speak, propels him into the situation.

By way of example, we may take the analogy of a loving married couple (an apt analogy, since God and the Jewish people are allegorically considered husband and wife). When one partner betrays or disappoints the other in some way, in order for them to become reconciled they must see if they can reach a place within themselves where their relationship means more to them than any infringement of it. “We are so much a part of each other that you mean more to me than whatever it was you did.” If they truly reach this point, further violation of their relationship is unthinkable.

This is why God had to orchestrate the incident of the Golden Calf, in which the Jewish people fell into the three cardinal sins of idolatry, adultery, and murder. By descending to the lowest depths possible, the people could then be raised to the highest levels of reconciliation with God, and reach a deeper connection to him than would have otherwise been possible. This is evidenced by the revelation of God’s thirteen attributes of mercy, in which God articulates the fact that His covenant with the Jewish people transcends the contractual relationship based on their obedient fulfillment of the commandments, and thus paves the way for teshuvah.

The pathos of teshuvah is thus the elevation of the Jewish people that needs to occur even after they have received the Torah and the Tabernacle.

Seen in this light, parashat Ki Tisa encapsulates the entire overview of creation: it begins with the original perfection (the Tabernacle and the first Tablets), continues on to the drama of history (the incident of the Golden Calf, which in a sense is a replay of the primordial sin of the Tree of Knowledge), and ends with the foretaste of the Messianic resolution (the renewal of the covenant and the second Tablets) which will elevate the world to a higher level of perfection than it knew in the beginning. In the Messianic future, we will be able to achieve the ultimate depths of relationship with God without having to make recourse to the dichotomous dynamic of sin and teshuvah, fall and ascent, estrangement and reconciliation.

This explains why this parashah begins with the half-shekel tax. The half-shekel tax was a process of teshuvah: the money was collected to finance the communal sacrifices, which atone for the sins of the people—“each man shall give God a ransom for his soul when they are counted.” The other details of the Tabernacle described at the beginning of the parashah are there to indicate that the purpose of the Tabernacle—the indwelling of God’s presence in the world at large and in man in particular—is most fully accomplished in the context of teshuvah, the theme of Ki Tisa. This is also why the entire parashah is sandwiched between the instructions of the Tabernacle (Terumah and Tetzaveh) and their implementation, its actual construction (Vayakheil and Pekudei): its content is, in effect, part of the instructions to build the Tabernacle—in fact, the inner dimension of these instructions. It is therefore only fitting that it follow the externalities of the instructions and precede the actual construction.

This dynamic of pristine perfection, fall, and reconciliation is reflected in many ways in the Torah and throughout life, including in the daily life of every Jew as prescribed by the Torah:

Our day begins with our complete surrender to God’s will, beginning with the Modeh Ani prayer we recite immediately upon awakening: “I offer thanks to You, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul to me [after sleeping]; your faith [in me] is great.” We remain absorbed within Divinity throughout our morning prayers and Torah study. After this, we go about our daily affairs, in which we experience tests and fluctuations in our Divine consciousness. At the end of the day, we evaluate the strength of our connection with God (as tested by the day’s events) in order to see where it needs to be reinforced. This done, we can submit ourselves to God on a higher level than before, as in the close of the bedtime prayer: “Into Your hand I place my spirit; redeem me, O God of truth.”

The lesson of parashat Ki Tisa, then, is lived out every day of our lives, focusing us constantly on our ultimate goal, the final, Messianic redemption.2

As always, call us if you need anything
(518) 894-3490 Have a great Shabbos
Elisheva and Leible Morrison


The Beth Tephilah Family Bulletin

This week the parsha is

Happy Purim!

If you need anything for Purim call me immediately Purim starts Thursday night!
Elisheva and Leible (518) 894-3490

We hope this bulletin finds you in good health!

 Here are some interesting “Tidbits” from the schmooze table we would like to share:

  A ten-year-old Jewish boy was failing math. His parents tried everything from tutors to hypnosis; but to no avail. Finally, at the insistence of a family friend, they decided to enroll their son in a private Catholic school. After the first day, the boy’s parents were surprised when he walked in after school with a stern, focused and very determined expression on his face.

He went straight past them, right to his room and quietly closed the door. For nearly two hours he toiled away in his room – with math books strewn about his desk and the surrounding floor. He emerged long enough to eat, and after quickly cleaning his plate, went straight back to his room, closed the door and worked feverishly at his studies until bedtime.

This pattern of behavior continued until it was time for the first quarter’s report card. The boy walked in with it unopened – laid it on the dinner table and went straight to his room. Cautiously, his mother opened it and, to her amazement, she saw a large red ‘A’ under the subject of Math.

Overjoyed, she and her husband rushed into their son’s room, thrilled at his remarkable progress. “Was it the nuns that did it?” the father asked. The boy shook his head and said “No.” “Was it the one-to-one tutoring? The peer-mentoring?” “No.” “The textbooks? The teachers? The curriculum?” “No”, said the son. “On that first day, when I walked in the front door and saw that guy nailed to the plus sign, I KNEW they meant business!”……………………..

 A Jew converts and becomes a priest. He gives his first mass in front of a number of high ranking priests who came for the occasion.
At the end of the new priest’s sermon a cardinal goes to congratulate him.
“Pastor Lewis,” he said, “That was very well done, you were just perfect.
But next time please don’t start your sermon with, “Fellow goyim…”………………………………..

A large family, the Pfieffers, with seven, thank G-d, healthy children, moved to America from Europe.  They were having a difficult time finding an apartment to live in.  Many apartments were large enough, but the landlords objected to such a large family.  After several days of unsuccessful searching, the father asked the mother to take the four younger children to visit the cemetery while he took the older three to find an apartment.

After they had looked most of the morning. they found a place that was just right.  Then the landlord asked the usual question:  “How many children do you have?”  The father answered with a deep sigh, “Seven … but, four are with their dear mother in the cemetery.”

He got the apartment…………………………………..

Story of the week

This explains why we forward jokes:

A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, “Excuse me, where are we?”

“This is Heaven, sir,” the man answered.

“Wow! Would you happen to have some water?” the man asked.

“Of course, sir. Come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.”

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

“Can my friend,” gesturing toward his dog, “come in, too?” the traveler asked.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.”

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at! the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence.

As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

“Excuse me!” he called to the man. “Do you have any water?”

“Yeah, sure, there’s a pump over there, come on in.”

“How about my friend here?” the traveler gestured to the dog.

“There should be a bowl by the pump.”

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.

The traveler filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.

When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.

“What do you call this place?” the traveler asked.

“This is Heaven,” he answered.

“Well, that’s confusing,” the traveler said. “The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.”

“Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That’s hell.”

“Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?”

“No, we’re just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.”


Sometimes, we wonder why friends keep forwarding jokes to us without writing a word.

Maybe this will explain.

When you are very busy, but still want to keep in touch, guess what you do? You forward jokes.

When you have nothing to say, but still want to keep contact, you forward jokes.

When you have something to say, but don’t know what, and don’t know how, you forward jokes.

Also to let you know that you are still remembered, you are still important, you are still loved, you are still cared for, guess what you get?

A forwarded joke.

So, next time if you get a joke, don’t think that you’ve been sent just another forwarded joke, but that you’ve been thought of today and your friend on the other end of your computer wanted to send you a smile.

You are welcome @ my water bowl anytime

Our Special Connection Of the week

Dolph Ageloff A”H

Dolph Ageloff passed away on the seventh portion of the Parasha Tzaveh. In that portion, the Torah decribes the construction and the  function of the Incense altar. The Incense altar had a special mixture of incense burned on it from 11 different spices. The Hebrew word for incense also means knot or bond . The spiritual function of this offering was to reveal the deepest bond the Jewish people have with G-d. The Torah says Hashem gets a pleasure from the incense offering. This pleasure reflects on G-d’s ultimate desire in his creation of the physical world we live in to reveal its G-dly source. This is accomplished through the partnership that Jews have with G-d  by studying Torah and doing the commands of G-d.  This is our oneness with G-d that is expressed through the incense offering. G-d appreciates  our people for helping to facilitate His desire and we appreciate G-d in having been given this privilege. This appreciation that we share with G-d , a vision of a Holy world, is what causes our unity with G-d.  Appreciation fosters unity because for a person to truly appreciate something they must look inward and envision themselves in the role of the giver and this  produces something shared on a deep level, a unity. The 11 spices represent different types of Jews. They were all different, some sweet, some pungent but all were appreciated and commanded to be used to create a unity of purpose to give G-d pleasure. How can we understand a little bit of the importance of appreciation that was between our people and G-d in everyday life? In order to answer this question let us see the life experiences and character of Dolph Ageloff A”H.

Dolph Ageloff was born in the 1930s in Brooklyn, New York. During the depression, he learned the importance of having a job. He worked very hard in many different jobs but found his talents were in sales. He was a truly a “people person”. He had a beautiful family and good friends.  He eventually started a stone siding business in Florida and made very funny commercials about his business. Everybody knew of him and liked him. When he talked to somebody they became his friend and he talked to many people. You see, Dolph did not just interact with people he truly appreciated them for whom they were. He would recognize their goodness even though the goodness was not so recognizable. He showed how his appreciation to his friends and family for anything they would do for him big or small. He would volunteer at social service organizations to help raise money for them because he appreciated what they were trying to do. When he recovered from an eye problem that almost made him blind, he volunteered at a nursing home running a program with seniors talking about current events because he was thankful and put his appreciation into action. Many would come to him and he became very close with them. He loved them he appreciated their goodness and bonded with them. He did that job when he was in his late 60s for over 11 years! Many of these people passed away and this hurt Dolph very much. Through Dolph’s appreciation of people and they of him, they shared life together. People of different styles and journeys bound together by the good they found in each other. A goodness that was not necessarily specific to some deed but  a shared vision to live a life full of goodness together. This give us a glimpse of the partnership of the Jewish people and G-d that was reflected in the incense offering; the desire to make a world full of harmony and true goodness.

Our Special Connections  is a project that takes the life experiences of our loved ones that have passed, and use them as a commentary on their portion of the Torah. The “Special Connection” is that your love one’s “commentary” provides an insight for people learning Torah and provides an everlasting legacy and elevation for the soul of that special person in your life! We are trying to make a special website that has these memories. Please share some memories with us of your loved ones, please call Leible at 518-894-3490.


The second story of the week “All about appreciation for a person’s life”
From the New Hampshire union leader newspaper

PAM BALES left the firm pavement of the Base Road and stepped onto the snow-covered Jewell Trail to begin her mid-October climb. She planned a six-hour loop hike by herself. She had packed for almost every contingency and intended to walk alone.

She’d left a piece of paper detailing her itinerary on the dashboard of her Nissan Xterra: start up the Jewell Trail, traverse the ridge south along Gulfside Trail, summit Mount Washington, follow the Crawford Path down to Lakes of the Clouds Hut, descend the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, and return to her car before some forecasted bad weather was to arrive. Bales always left her plans in her car, and she left copies with two friends, fellow teammates from the all-volunteer Pemigewasset Valley Search and Rescue Team.

It was Oct. 17, 2010. She’d checked the higher summits forecast posted by the Mount Washington Observatory before she left:  

In the clouds w/ a slight chance of showers

Highs: upper 20s; Windchills 0–10

Winds: NW 50–70 mph increasing to 60–80 w/ higher gusts

Bales knew that the forecast promised low clouds with some wind, but based on her experience, her plan of going up Jewell to the summit of Washington and then down the Ammonoosuc Trail was a realistic goal. Her contingency plan, if needed, was either to turn around and descend Jewell, or if she was already deep into her planned itinerary, she would forgo Mount Washington’s summit and take Westside Trail to Crawford Path and down Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.

She was eager to get out and connect with the mountains and had been waiting for a weather window, however brief, that would allow her to complete the loop. Bales knew the nuances of the Presidentials’ rugged terrain and could hear the weather’s early whispers hinting at an approaching howl. She had packed extra layers of clothing to better regulate her core temperature as conditions changed; the observatory had described conditions on the higher summits as “full-on winter.”

The hike up the lower portion of Jewell was pleasant. Bales felt excited, and her joy increased as she walked up into snowy paths. At 8:30 a.m., still below treeline, she stopped and took a selfie; she was wearing a fleece tank top and hiking pants, and no gloves or hat because the air was mild. The sun shone through the trees and cast a shadow over her smiling face. She had reconnected to the mountains.

Thirty minutes later, at 9 a.m., she took another shot of herself, after she’d climbed into colder air and deeper snows. She had donned a quarter-zip fleece top and added gloves. An opaque backdrop had replaced the sunshine, and snow shrouded the hemlock and birch.

She still smiled. Above her, thick clouds overloaded with precipitation were dropping below Mount Washington’s summit, where the temperature measured 24 degrees Fahrenheit and the winds blew about 50 mph in fog and blowing snow.

Sneaker footprints
At 10:30 a.m., as Bales breached treeline and the junction of Jewell and Gulfside Trails, the weather was showing its teeth. Now fully exposed to the conditions, she added even more layers, including a shell jacket, goggles, and mountaineering mittens to shield herself from the cold winds and dense frozen fog. She made her way alone across the snow-covered ridge toward Mount Washington, and began to think about calling it a day. Bales watched as the clouds above her continued to drop lower, obscuring her vision. She felt confined — and she noticed something. She stared at a single set of footprints in the snow ahead of her. She’d been following faint tracks in the snow all day but hadn’t given them much thought because so many people climb the Jewell Trail. She fixated on the tracks and realized they had been made by a pair of sneakers. She silently scolded the absent hiker who had violated normal safety rules and walked on.

Now, at 11 a.m., Bales was getting cold even though she was moving fast and generating some body heat. She knew she should add even more layers, so she tucked in behind a large cairn on Mount Clay. She put on an extra top under her shell jacket and locked down her face mask and goggle system. Good thing she packed heavy, she thought. And then, hunkered behind the cairn, she decided to abandon her plan to summit Washington. She would implement her bailout plan by continuing to the junction of Gulfside and Westside, turn right onto the Westside Trail and over to the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, where she could head down the mountain. Having spent thousands of hours in those beloved mountains, Bales knew when to abort a plan. For her, summiting was just an option, but returning to her SUV was a requirement.

Strong gusts of wind screamed as they exited the fog at full charge and attacked her back and left side. The cloud cover had transitioned from canopy to the equivalent of quicksand, and the only thing keeping Bales on Gulfside was the sneaker tracks in the snow. As she fought with the wind and heavy sleet on the ridge, her eyes searching for the increased certainty and security of the next cairn, the set of tracks ahead of her made a hard left-hand turn off trail.

Now she felt genuinely alarmed. She was sure the hiker could not navigate in the low visibility and was heading straight toward Great Gulf. Bales stood there, stunned, as she tried to steady the emotional weight of this sudden intersection of tracks. The temperature and clouds were in a race to find their lowest point, she could see just a few feet in front of her, the winds were ramping up, and darkness was mere hours away. If Bales continued to follow the tracks, she’d add risk and time to the itinerary she had already modified to manage both. But she could not let this go. She turned to the left toward Great Gulf and called out, “Hello!” into the frozen fog.

Nothing. She called out again, “Is anybody out there? Do you need help?”

The strong westerly winds carried her voice away. She blew into her rescue whistle. For a fleeting moment she thought someone replied, but it was just the wind playing games with her mind. She stood listening 0.3 mile from the junction of Jewell and Gulfside and about a mile from Westside Trail. She turned and walked cautiously in the direction of a single set of tracks in the snow; her bailout route would have to wait.

As she carved through the dense and frozen fog, Bales continued to blow her rescue whistle. Wind gusts now exceeding 50 mph rocked her. Even with her MICROspikes on, she struggled to remain upright on the rime ice–covered rocks. She remembered that the observatory’s forecast had advised hikers to be careful with foot placement that day, as the new snow had yet to firm up between the rocks, so punching through would be an added danger. Bales had also heeded that warning by wearing spikes, but even still, a single misplacement of her boot could put her into serious jeopardy.

‘Oh, hello’
She followed the tracks gingerly for 20 to 30 yards. She rounded a slight corner and saw a man sitting motionless, cradled by large rime-covered boulders just off the Clay Loop Trail. He stared in the direction of the Great Gulf, the majesty of which could only be imagined because of the horrendous visibility. She approached him and uttered, “Oh, hello.”

He did not react. He wore tennis sneakers, shorts, a light jacket, and fingerless gloves. He looked soaking wet, and thick frost covered his jacket. His head was bare, and his day pack looked empty. She could tell that he knew she was there. His eyes tracked her slowly and he barely swiveled his head. She knew he could still move because his frozen windbreaker and the patches of frost breaking free of it made crinkling sounds as he shifted.

A switch flipped. She now stopped being a curious and concerned hiker. Her informal search now transitioned to full-on rescue mission. She leaned into her wilderness medical training and tried to get a firmer grip on his level of consciousness. “What is your name?” she asked.

He did not respond.

“Do you know where you are?” Bales questioned.

Nothing. His skin was pale and waxy, and he had a glazed look on his face. It was obvious that nothing was connecting for him. He was hypothermic and in really big trouble. Winds were blowing steadily at 50 mph, the temperature was 27 degrees Fahrenheit, and the ice pellets continued their relentless assault on Bales and the man who was now her patient.

The thought of having to abandon him in the interest of her own survival was a horrifying prospect, but she’d been trained in search and rescue, and she knew not to put herself at such risk that she would become a patient too. She knew she didn’t have much time. She went right to work. As he sat there propped up against the rocks, semi-reclined and dead weight, she stripped him down to his T-shirt and underwear. Because he wouldn’t talk and she was in such close contact with him, she gave him a name: “John.” She placed adhesive toe warmer packs directly onto his bare feet. She checked him for any sign of injury or trauma. There was none. From her own pack, Bales retrieved a pair of softshell pants, socks, a winter hat, and a jacket. He could not help her because he was so badly impaired by hypothermia. She pulled the warm, dry layers onto his body. Imagine for a moment the extreme difficulty in completing that task in that environment.

Bales next removed a bivouac sack from her pack. She held it firmly so the winds would not snatch it. She slid it under and around his motionless body, entombing him inside. She shook and activated more heat packs that she always brought with her into the mountains, reached into the cocoon, and placed them in his armpits, on his torso, and on each side of his neck. Bales always brought a Thermos of hot cocoa and chewable electrolyte cubes. She dropped a few cubes into the cocoa and cradled the back of his head with one hand, gripped the Thermos with her other, and poured the warm, sugary drink into his mouth.

‘We have to go now!’
All this took an hour before he could move his limbs or say anything. Slurring his words, he said that when he had left Maine that morning it had been 60 degrees outside. He had planned to follow the very same loop as Bales. He had walked that route several times before. He told her that he had lost his way in the poor visibility and just sat down here. Even as he warmed up, he remained lethargic. He was not actively working against her, but he wasn’t trying to help her either.

Bales recognized that he would die soon if they didn’t get out of there. She looked her patient squarely in the eyes and said, “John, we have to go now!” Bales left no room for argument. She was going to descend, and he was going with her. The wind roared over and around the boulders behind which they had hunkered down during the 60-minute triage. Bales removed her MICROspikes and affixed them onto John’s sneakers. She braced him as he stood up, shivering, and with a balance of firmness and genuine concern she ordered, “You are going to stay right on my ass, John.” This wasn’t the way she usually spoke to people, but she knew she had to be forceful now. He seemed moments away from being drawn irrevocably to the path of least resistance — stopping and falling asleep. Bales vowed to herself that this was not going to happen on her watch.

She figured that the only viable route out was back the way they’d come, back to the Gulfside Trail, turn right, head back to Jewell Trail, and then descend. That seemed like an eternity, but a half-mile to the top of Jewell was much shorter than the two and a half miles over to Ammo. Bales did not want to head onto Westside Trail or up Mount Washington, where she feared the storm was even more severe. There was something really unsettling about the sound the high winds made as they roared past them and, off in the distance, slammed headfirst into the western slopes of Washington’s shrouded summit cone. She had absolutely no interest in taking them closer to that action.

Visibility was so bad as the pair made their way along the ridge that they crept, seemingly inches at a time. Bales followed the small holes in the snow her trekking poles had made on the way in. She wished she could follow her earlier footprints, but the winds had erased them. Leaning into the headwinds, she began to sing a medley of Elvis songs in an effort to keep John connected to reality — and herself firmly focused.

She was moving them slowly from cairn to cairn, trying hard to stay on the trail, and trying even harder not to let John sense her growing concern. He dropped down into the snow. She turned to look and saw that he seemed to be giving up. He curled in a sort of sitting fetal position, hunched down, shoulders dropped forward, and hands on his knees. He told her he was exhausted and had had enough. She should just continue on without him. Bales would have none of it, however, and said, “That’s not an option, John. We still have the toughest part to go — so get up, suck it up, and keep going!” Slowly he stood, and Bales felt an overwhelming sense of relief.

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They had traveled just under a half a mile when Bales and her reluctant companion arrived back at the junction of Gulfside and the somewhat safer Jewell Trail. It was sometime around 2 p.m. when they started down. The sun would set in three hours. Although the trees would protect them from the wind, it was darker under the canopy. Bales switched on her headlamp as they continued their tortuous descent of the trail’s tricky curves and angles.

With only one headlamp between them, Bales would inch her way down a steeper section, then turn to illuminate the trail so he could follow. To help him along she offered continuous encouragement, “Keep going John; you’re doing great,” and sang a dose of songs from the 1960s. Their descent was arduous, and Bales dreaded that he would drop in the snow again and actively resist her efforts to save him.

Finally, just before 6 p.m., after hours of emotional and physical toil, they arrived at the trailhead, exhausted and battered. Her climb up to the spot where she located John had taken about four hours. Six hours had passed since then.

Bales started her car engine and placed the frozen clothing she had taken off John high on the mountain inside so that the heater could thaw them. She realized he had no extra clothing with him.

“Why don’t you have extra dry clothes and food in your car?” she asked.

“I just borrowed it,” he told her. Several minutes later, he put his now-dry clothes back on and returned the ones Bales had dressed him in up on the ridge.

“Why didn’t you check the weather forecast dressed like that?” she asked him again as she had up on the ridge. He didn’t answer. He just thanked her, got into his car, and drove across the empty lot toward the exit. It was right around that time, at 6:07 p.m., the Mount Washington Observatory clocked its highest wind gust of the day at 88 mph.

Standing there astonished and alone in the darkness, Bales said to no one, “What the @#$% just happened?”

‘I am getting help’
Bales would not get an answer until a week later, when the president of her rescue group, Allan Clark, received a letter in the mail, and a donation tucked between the folds.

I hope this reaches the right group of rescuers. This is hard to do but must try, part of my therapy. I want to remain anonymous, but I was called John. On Sunday Oct. 17 I went up my favorite trail, Jewell, to end my life. Weather was to be bad. Thought no one else would be there, I was dressed to go quickly. Next thing I knew this lady was talking to me, changing my clothes, talking to me, giving me food, talking to me, making me warmer, and she just kept talking and calling me John and I let her. Finally learned her name was Pam.

Conditions were horrible and I said to leave me and get going, but she wouldn’t. Got me up and had me stay right behind her, still talking. I followed but I did think about running off, she couldn’t see me. But I wanted to only take my life, not anybody else and I think she would’ve tried to find me.

The entire time she treated me with care, compassion, authority, confidence and the impression that I mattered. With all that has been going wrong in in my life, I didn’t matter to me, but I did to Pam. She probably thought I was the stupidest hiker dressed like I was, but I was never put down in any way — chewed out yes — in a kind way. Maybe I wasn’t meant to die yet, I somehow still mattered in life.

I became very embarrassed later on and never really thanked her properly. If she is an example of your organization/professionalism, you must be the best group around. Please accept this small offer of appreciation for her effort to save me way beyond the limits of safety. NO did not seem in her mind.

I am getting help with my mental needs, they will also help me find a job and I have temporary housing. I have a new direction thanks to wonderful people like yourselves. I got your name from her pack patch and bumper sticker.

My deepest thanks,


Bales was deeply moved by the man’s gesture and his reference to the fact that she made him feel that he mattered. Bales’s selfless act and genuine humility struck a chord elsewhere. Ken Norton, the executive director of the National Alliance of Mental Health–New Hampshire, is a recognized expert on mental health issues who speaks nationally on the topic of suicide. Like Bales, he is also an avid White Mountain hiker. When I shared this story with him, he captured the gravity of Bales’s intervention on the ridge.

“John borrowed a car, got in the car, drove from Maine to Ammonoosuc Ravine, hiked to this spot where he felt like he was going to be past the point of no return, contemplating this the whole way, and along comes this guardian angel out of nowhere who force-marches him down the mountain,” he said. “It is important for Pam and others to know that 90 percent of those who attempt suicide don’t go on to die by suicide. John drove away that day and didn’t drive over to the other side of the mountain to go up the other side and finish what he started. He drove home, and a week later, he felt the need to write in an anonymous way to the president of Pemi Search and Rescue to share his immersion back into society and his life. His story represents hope and resilience.”

In the eight years since Bales saved John, she has become something of a White Mountain legend. It’s a title she never sought or wanted, but certainly one she has earned.

Some people have asked me if I tried to find John. The thought of searching for him felt wrong. As I’ve reflected more on this story and its relation to the issue of mental health, my response to the question about finding John has evolved. I have in fact found John, and he is very close by me. John is my neighbor, he is my good friend, a close colleague, a family member. John could be me.

At some point in our lives, each of us has found ourselves walking with a sense of helplessness along a ridgeline and through a personal storm. Alone, devoid of a sense of emotional warmth and safety, and smothered by the darkness of our emotions, we’ve sought that place just off trail where we hoped to find some way to break free of our struggles and strife. Sadly and tragically, some do follow through. Many are able to quietly self-rescue, and others like John are rescued by others like Pam Bales.

The most valuable lesson I’ve learned through this powerful story is to be more mindful of caring for myself and seeking out rescuers when I sometimes find myself on the ridgeline, and to be more like Pam Bales when I sense that those tracks I see ahead in the snow, regardless of who may have made them, appear to be heading deeper into the storm.

Tetzaveh Aliyah Summary


General Overview: In last week’s Torah reading, Terumah, we read the details of the construction of the Tabernacle, the sanctuary in the desert. In this week’s Parshah, Tetzaveh, we discover the special garments worn by the priests and high priest when serving in the Tabernacle. Following that, we read G‑d’s instructions to Moses regarding the seven-day inauguration for the Tabernacle. The portion concludes with a description of one of the vessels of the Tabernacle—the Incense Altar.

First Aliyah: G‑d commands the Jews to use the purest of olive oils for the daily kindling of the Menorah. Moses is instructed to consecrate Aaron and his sons by dressing them in special priestly garments. The Torah describes the making of the High Priest’s ephod — a reversed apron which covered the back — and its precious-stone-studded shoulder straps.

Second Aliyah: We now read about the High Priest’s Choshen Mishpat (“Breastplate of Judgment”). It contained four rows of precious stones, each row containing three stones. Artisans engraved the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel upon these twelve stones. This cloth breastplate contained a fold wherein the Urim v’Tumim, a parchment on which was written G‑d’s Name, was inserted. The Choshen Misphat was then secured by straps which connected it to the ephod.

Third Aliyah: This aliyah describes the last two of the garments which were exclusive to the High Priest: the me’il and the tzitz. The me’il was a blue robe which was adorned with golden bells and cloth “pomegranates.” The tzitz was a golden band worn on the forehead, which was engraved with the words “Holy to G‑d.” The Torah then describes the four garments worn by both the High Priest and the regular priests: tunics, turbans, sashes and pants.

Fourth Aliyah: This aliyah prescribes the procedure for consecrating Aaron and his sons as priests. Aaron and his sons were brought to the door of the sanctuary, they immersed in a mikvah (ritual pool), and were dressed in the priestly garments. Moses then offered various inaugural sacrifices on their behalf.

Fifth Aliyah: The Torah continues describing the procedure for the offering, and the consumption of the inaugural sacrifices. G‑d commands Moses to repeat this inaugural service for a seven day period, after which the consecration will be complete. Also included in this section is a description of how future High Priests are to be inducted.

Sixth Aliyah: G‑d instructs the Jews to offer two burnt offerings daily for perpetuity; one lamb in the morning and one in the afternoon. G‑d promises to dwell in the Tabernacle.

Seventh Aliyah: This section describes the Incense Altar which stood in the sanctuary. The priests are commanded to burn incense upon this altar twice daily.

A Deeper Overview for Parashah  tetzaveh

From the Lubavitcher Rebbe

In parashat Terumah, we saw God instruct the Jewish people how to build the Tabernacle, the means by which He would dwell both in this world and within each one of us. And—since the Torah is eternal and its every word applies in a personal as well as a historical sense—these instructions in all their minutiae also tell us how to construct our own personal Tabernacle: how to make ourselves, our lives, and our sphere of influence into a “home” for God, that is, how to refine them so they can be imbued with and sustain Divine consciousness.

But once a home is built, it must be lived in. The Tabernacle itself is just an empty stage: a shell that, it is true, is optimally “configured” for spiritualizing reality, but that needs to be utilized. The connection that has been set in place must be activated. Therefore, once God has finished instructing us how to construct the Tabernacle, the next stage is for Him to tell us how to use it. After Terumah comes TetzavehTetzaveh means “you will command,” but also “you will connect.”

Thus, in parashat Tetzaveh, God describes the priests, who officiate in the Tabernacle, and how they are to be installed into this office.

True, when God gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai, He prefaced the revelation with the promise that “you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”1 On a certain level, every Jew is supposed to be a priest, a being consecrated solely to the service of God, so wholly imbued with Divine consciousness that it overtakes and encompasses him entirely.

Nevertheless, ideal as this may sound, living at such a level would in the end be counterproductive. It would undermine the purpose of creation, since God created us not to be angels who have no relation to the here and now, but to be human beings who engage in the mundane tasks of living, in order to elevate and refine all aspects of the mundane world and cause Divine consciousness to permeate all aspects of reality.

Therefore, just as creation at large functions on a duel level—heaven and earth, sun and moon, day and night, male and female, breathing out and breathing in—so must the process of bringing the Divine presence into the world reflect this duality. There must be priests and lay people. In a sense, the priests are the exception that proves the rule. They serve both as the ideal that the lay population is to strive for and the channel through which Divine consciousness is transmitted to the laity. As the former, the people are inferior to them and strive to emulate them; as the latter, they exist only to serve the people and provide them with the inspiration they need in order to accomplish their task—which is the true purpose of creation.

On the personal level, then, this parashah is important for each of us because it describes both how our priestly proxies are made into what they are and—more to the point—how we are to consecrate a portion of our personality to the sole purpose of serving God. By creating (“installing”) the priest within, we can then relate to the physical, human priest and both see him as the idealized vision of ourselves and derive through him Divine consciousness and inspiration.

The greater part of this parashah therefore deals with the process of making an individual into a priest. There are two phases in this process: vesting him in the priestly garments and performing on him the installation rites. The first half of the parashah describes the former, the second half the latter.

However, the parashah is also framed by two shorter segments that would seem to belong in the previous parashah. At the beginning of the parashah, Moses is told to prepare the oil for the lamps of the Candelabrum, and at the end of the parashah, to build an incense altar to be located in the outer chamber of the Tabernacle.

Positioning the commandment to make an incense altar at the end of this parashah is particularly unsettling. The Torah is, in effect, telling us that all the lengthy and detailed descriptions of the Tabernacle and the office of the priesthood are just a prelude or antecedent to the incense altar. Indeed, we are told in the Midrash that after “the Tabernacle and all its vessels were completed and all the installation rites were performed…the Divine presence did not descend [and manifest itself] until the incense was offered.”2

This is because the incense differs fundamentally from all the other offerings brought in the Temple; it is in a class by itself. The purpose of the other sacrifices and offerings is to elevate or refine the physical, bodily aspect our being, while the purpose of the incense is to bind our soul to God. The word for “sacrifice” in Hebrew (korban) means “[a means of] coming close,” while the word for “incense” (ketoret) means “[a means of] binding.” Whereas the other sacrifices primarily engage our four more “physical” senses—touch, sight, hearing, and taste—the incense engages our fifth, more “spiritual” sense—smell.3

The Tabernacle and the priestly office effect the indwelling of the Divine presence in the Jewish people, as is evident from the summary verses that conclude their description (just before the Torah gives the commandment to build the incense altar):

It is there [the Tent of Meeting] that I will convene with the Israelites, and it will thus be sanctified through My glory. I shall sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the [outer] Altar, and I will sanctify Aaron and his sons to minister to Me as priests. I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and I will be their God. They shall know that I am <G>, their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt so that I may abide in their midst; I am <G>, their God.4

But after this, there is a yet higher level to be achieved, that of total connection between us and God, not just God dwelling within us. This is what is achieved by the incense; the incense transforms us from separate beings who are able to “host” God into beings that are no longer separate but one with God. The smell of the incense transports us to the highest level of our being, where we are virtually a part of our Creator.

Still, as we said above, the purpose of life is not merely to achieve this sublime transcendence of total Divine consciousness but to bring it into reality. This is reflected in the very interesting connection between the burning of the incense and the lighting of the lamps of the Candelabrum:

Aaron shall burn spice incense upon [the inner altar]; he shall burn it every morning, when he cleans out the lamps. Aaron shall [also] burn it when he kindles the lamps in the afternoon—a continual [i.e., daily] offering of incense before <G> throughout your generations.5

In other words, the incense was burned in conjunction with the kindling of the Candelabrum lamps. In fact, tradition tells us that the incense was actually burned in the middle of the ritual of kindling the lamps!6

There were no windows in the Tabernacle, but when the permanent Temple in Jerusalem superseded the Tabernacle it was built with windows. However, the Temple’s windows were built differently than normal windows. The windows of ancient buildings were typically built narrow on the outside and wide on the inside, in order to enable the incoming light to diffuse throughout the room. The windows of the Temple were built the other way around: wide on the outside and narrow on the inside, as if to enable the light of Temple’s Candelabrum to diffuse outward into the world.7 The purpose of the Candelabrum, thus, was to transmit the Divine consciousness embodied in the nearby incense altar and diffuse it throughout reality. In this way, God’s purpose in creation can truly be fulfilled; the whole world can attain the Divine consciousness of the Temple and thereby become God’s home.

The light of the Candelabrum accomplishes this objective because its light was simply a physical manifestation of the true spiritual light of the world, the Jewish soul: “The lamp of God is the soul of man.”8 The way our soul shines its light into the world is through our study of God’s Torah and performance of His commandments: “The commandment is a lamp and the Torah is light.”9

Just as the priests burned the incense and kindled the Candelabrum regularly as part of the daily ritual of the Tabernacle, so are we to renew our intrinsic connection with God and diffuse this consciousness to the outside world on an ongoing, daily basis. We offer our daily “incense” by reciting the Shema every morning, thereby asserting our conviction in the absolute singularity of God in creation—how there is nothing apart from Him—and by uniting with Him in the morning Amidah. We light our “Candelabrum” every day by taking this inspiration and applying it to our daily lives. Even though we must perforce retreat from the rapture and transcendent consciousness of the Shema and the Amidah, the inner point of Divinity within us—once contacted—can remain in the backdrop of our consciousness even as we go about our daily affairs. In this way, we remain connected and united with God throughout the day.

It is therefore clear why the sections describing the kindling of the Candelabrum and the incense altar frame this parashah, even though they would logically seem better situated in parashat Terumah. Together, they epitomize the message of the parashah, the actualization of the Tabernacle’s potential by the office of the priesthood. The Jew becomes totally one with God—a total member of the “kingdom of priests” and the “holy nation”—through the incense, and then transforms the world into one great Temple of God through the Candelabrum.10

As always, call us if you need anything
(518) 894-3490 Have a great Shabbos
Elisheva and Leible Morrison