Skip directly to content


Torah on On Foot - Matot

on Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:34

Torah On One Foot

Rabbi Matthew Berger





This week’s Torah portion, Matot (yu,n) meaning “tribes” is one of the seven designated portions that is either read alone or combined to assure the entire reading of the Torah. This year itis read on its own. The parhsa (Torah portion)focuses on the laws for making vows. It then recounts the Israelites’ war against the Midianites and concludes with Moses resolving the request of the tribes of Gad and Reuben to settle in the land of Jazer and Gilead, on the eastern side of the Jordan.


Matotraises important moral

Flowers on the Bima - Matot

on Mon, 07/14/2014 - 20:50

Each Tribe had a Staff  or a Rod which is a  representation of personal authority.  In the flowers we have bamboo as staffs, they are crossed to illuminate these ideas and their counterpoints:


 The Differences in time— ancient times and present times-- In ancient times all womens’ vows were predicated on the man in her life agreeing to it, in present times women stand and make their own vows. 


 The Differences in vows that are made without thinking –that the community can rise up and amend such a vow as in the case of Saul declaring that the one to break the fast will be killed -

Torah on One Foot - Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

on Fri, 07/11/2014 - 02:25


This week’s Torah portion, Pinchas (פנחס) recalls the story of Phineas’ zealotry, where he kills Zimri and Cozbi, a Midianite, for entering a tent to have sexual relations. According to the Torah, the Midianites will lead the Israelites into idolatry. God rewards Pinchas with a covenant of peace and bestows the office of the priesthood to the descendants of his family.  


The text also recounts the claim of Zelophechad’s five daughters – who approach Moses with the claim that they deserve to inherit their father’s land because there is no male heir.

Flowers on the Bima - Pinchas

on Tue, 07/08/2014 - 01:29






Five Zelophehad’s Daughters whose names are repeated

Four times in the Torah in

Three different places

(Numbers 27 and 36, Joshua 17)

Illustrating the importance of their story.

In the flowers find 5 main flowers for the remarkable women, 4 support flowers, and three flowers of fill.

The Antique Chinese vases, loaned by the Friedman Family, chosen for their perfect forms symbolizing womenhood in beauty, intelligence and spirit. 

Torah on One Foot - Balak

on Fri, 07/04/2014 - 20:19




This week’s Torah portion, Balak (בלק) was the name of a Moabite king in biblical times. The name of the portion comes from the second verse of this week’s reading, “Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites” (Numbers 22:2). It recounts the story of how Balak hires the prophet Balaam to curse the Israelites. Balaam meets resistance from God, has a conversation with his donkey, and ends up blessing Israel instead.



The angel of God appeared on the road before Balaam on three different occasions: first with a drawn sword, second while

Flowers on the Bima - Balak

on Wed, 07/02/2014 - 20:37

The surreal nature of this Torah portion with angels invisible and donkeys talking is seen in the blue vase, handblown in Spain, coming in at a whopping 4 foot tall. The celebration of the birthday of our country and the first Shabbat with our new Rabbi —is seen in the red, white and blue bouquet at the top of the vase.  

At the base of the vase are rocks and three yellow roses, both signs of mourning, for the three youths found this last week in Hebron. 



on Thu, 06/26/2014 - 16:11

Dear Friends,

In our Torah portion for this Shabbat, Chukat, we learn the reason Moses was unable to enter into the Promised Land.  Regardless of all he did for the Israelites, all the miracles he performed, the Torah from God he gave to them having received it on Mt. Sinai, the leadership he provided for forty years in the desert, he was prohibited from stepping foot in Israel.  The sin he committed was that instead of merely pointing to a dry rock as he was commanded to do by God, he struck it instead.


on Thu, 06/19/2014 - 17:38

Dear Friends,

The Torah is timeless.  It speaks of situations where the dynamics are similar; only the time, location and characters change.  With great sadness we are reading and hearing about events in Iraq.  A rebellion is taking place that is destroying the stability of the region.  This poses a tremendous threat on all that our country fought and paid for with far too many lives and dollars.
In the Torah portion for this Shabbat Korach, after the return of the scouts in last week’s Torah portion, we read about a rebellion that took place against Moses, and ultimately God.

Sh’lach L’cha

on Thu, 06/12/2014 - 15:31

Dear Friends,

We are all familiar with the phrase, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  For a homeless person any dwelling is a palace, regardless of its condition.  For a person of means that same dwelling may appear to be a dump.  Some of us may love a good steak; a vegetarian finds no such delight in that dish. The examples are endless.
No one among the thousands of Israelites who were taking the long road to the Promised Land including Moses had ever seen the Land of Israel.  Was it good or bad, dangerous or safe?  Could the land be farmed, was there sufficient water?


on Thu, 06/05/2014 - 14:13

Dear Friends,

When I was growing up and had to travel to a new destination, I would be a regular visitor to service stations.  It was not that I needed gas that frequently.  I have a rather poor sense of direction.  I had to rely upon someone to point me on the correct path.  Long ago there were people who pumped gas and they were outside.  It simply required rolling down the window (there were no electric windows at that time), asking for directions and off I went.  When we had to resort to filling our own tanks, I had to stop, go inside and inquire.