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Friday, February 28, 2014

Hot Spot

A few years ago, I worked with my star student Michael on his Bar Mitzva speech for parshas Pikudei.  He did a great job. Michael was talking about himself, but I think that the Bar Mitzvah boy inside each one of us can relate:

This morning, I read to you about the Mishkan that the Jews built in the desert. The Mishkan was a structure dedicated to Hashem. In it, the people could serve Hashem with no distractions at all. Nobody lived in the Mishkan. They all had lives. But they knew that the Mishkan was there for them when they needed somewhere quiet and holy to go.

I have learned from my parents and teachers that Hashem does not demand that we concentrate on only Him 24/7. As long as we are following the Torah, Hashem encourages us to live our lives and have fun as we become productive members of society. On the other hand, I have learned that we cannot spend our whole life running around and living for others. We need to take time out to concentrate on ourselves and our relationship with G-d. The Jewish camp in the desert was enormous, but it could not be complete without the sacrosanct structure of the Mishkan where everything could be forgotten and our souls could be nourished.

As I grow up, I’ve come to realize that life can get very complicated and very busy. Years ago, life was simpler: I would wake up, cry, eat, and get my diaper changed. Now I need to split my time between Shacharis, school, sports, sleeping, eating, learning and beating up my brother.

I have come to appreciate the value of taking “time out” to evaluate and appreciate everything that I have in my life. I have come to realize how important it is to set aside time to talk to Hashem.

Even professional athletes cannot spend all of their time on the court. In the average Basketball game things can get pretty heated up. People get hyper, pressured and sometimes discouraged. Every once in a while it is important for them to huddle together or take some time off on the bench or in the dugout. There is nothing wrong with getting excited, but everyone needs a place where they can cool down and refocus.

Of course there is a big difference between a Dugout and a Mishkan, but the concept of space and time is the same. Every Shul is a Mikdash Me’at, a mini-sanctuary where we can pause and let time stand still as we communicate with G-d.

I am privileged that I have been brought up in a community where I have been taught how and where to come and connect with Hashem.

Thank You.

Posted on 02/28 at 11:45 AM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at