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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Travelling Jewish

The Jewish people have been traveling for many years. The Torah list forty two stops that the Jewish people made before finally entering the land of Israel and it didn’t stop there. We eventually left the land of Israel and we are still travelling around.

The Zohar in Parshas Tetzaveh writes that we left Mitzrayim on a spiritual high. After leaving, we were given forty two different challenges through which we could change the world and develop as a nation. Each place that we camped brought a new challenge. Sometimes we wanted more of G-d; sometimes we were rebellious. Sometimes there was no food; sometimes we ate too much. People died; people were born, people got married, people questioned, and people changed. Sometimes we went forward; sometimes we went backwards. We hit rocks and waged wars and sent spies. We tried to go faster and we tried to turn around. The Book of Bamidbar has been an incredible journey.

There was a specific purpose to each one of the forty two stops. The Zohar teaches that if we had succeeded then, we would have entered Israel and stayed there. We would be complete and the world around us would be perfect.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be. We needed to leave Israel again and go back through those same forty two exercises and challenges. We didn’t go back to the same geographic position, but throughout our personal and national history we have met each one of those challenges. When we overcome all of those challenges, we will be able to go home.

In this week’s Haftorah, Yirmiyahu told the Jewish people that they should be learning from the Kedarim. These nomadic tribes traveled everywhere, but brought their gods with them wherever they went. Their gods were false, yet the Kedarim had the understanding and loyalty to always stick to the same god. The Jews for some reason felt a need to constantly be starting over again.

When we left Egypt, Hashem gave us all the miracles and amazing wonders that we needed. Afterward He let go a little bit and let the Jewish people stumble along by ourselves. Sometimes, we come to points where Hashem does not seem to be “as with us” as he was.  The Jewish people continue to exist because we don’t just ‘look for something new’. Hashem is with us wherever our travels take us.

Hashem is like a father teaching his daughter to ride a bike. He is watching closely but he is letting go. We need to remember that it is an illusion. Hashem never really leaves us. If we fall He will help us get up.

(Zohar Tetzaveh, Baal Shem Tov, Abarbanel, Toldos Yaakov Yosef)

Posted on 07/22 at 07:40 PM • 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