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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Two Calves – Ki Sisa

I’ve been thinking about the second set of Luchos. Why were they necessary? We don’t have them today and they don’t seem that integral to the Jewish people. As a matter of fact, the idea of a symbol that we can gather around and pray toward seems almost wrong in the light of the incident with the Golden Calf.

The Haftorah tells us the story of the faceoff between Eliyahu Hanavi and the Prophets of the Baal. Two calves were chosen for slaughter and one of them was very upset. He ran to Eliyahu because he did not want to be the idolatrous offering. Eliyahu said: Go ahead. Your job is also important. You are showing the world that the Prophets of the Baal can’t bring a fire down to consume you.

Rashi writes that the Altar used by Eliyahu was the same one used by Shaul when he brought inllicit sacrifices from the shhep of Amalek who should have been killed. Shaul lost the Kingship for this action.

There is such a fine line between good and bad, evil and righteousness.

It’s not even a line. It is the difference between making ourselves in G-d’s image or making G-d in our image.

There is also another form of idolatry. KI Bamah Nechsav hu.

We are built in the image of Hashem. When Hillel bathed he would declare that he is respecting G-d because we are made in his image. We are supposed to take initiative and throw our originality and desires into things, but it is irresponsible not to keep in mind where we came from and who we are.

The golden calf took place when the Jewish people gave up on their spiritual journey and instead embraced the idolatry of everyone else.

When we repented from Idolatry we were given the Luchos and the Mishkan built around it. We were no longer creating a G-d for ourselves; we were using the word of Hashem as the basis for our image, our sanctuary, and our growth.

Posted on 02/20 at 09:53 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