Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Shavuot: Yizkor -- DIY Tikun and and lots more

Congregation Bnai Torah has decided out of an abundance of caution to fulfill the precept of guarding life as a pre-eminent value of Judaism to not yet open actual services this Shavuot. We hope to open next Shabbat June 6th with great care and strong safety protocols. We will let you know as soon as final decision has been made. 

However, we have put together a full range of events and resources to enhance your Shavuot notwithstanding our physical separation. These will be presented in chronological order so please read to the end!

A.Facebook events

Please don't share zoom information with anyone you don't know well -and trust

2. Special Pre- Shavuot Midrash Class Thursday 1PM

4. Pre Shavuot Yizkor Service
Since  electronic devices like cell phones etc can't be used on Yom Tov (except for emergencies) we will have a Yizkor Service by Zoom and Facebook Live right before Yom Tov.  
Facebook Live

B. Sermon: The Mystery of the Mountain

In the Dayenu hymn in the Passover Haggadah, we list all the wonders that G‑d did for us when we left Egypt. After each of the fifteen stanzas of this hymn we say, "dayenu"—"it would have sufficed us."

"If He had brought us out from Egypt, and had not carried out judgments against them—dayenu, it would have sufficed us!" etc.

One of the stanzas says: "If He had brought us to Mount Sinai, but not given us the Torah—dayenu!" Now this seems puzzling. What in the world would be the point of going to Mount Sinai if not to receive the Torah? What other point is there in being there? After all, at this particular mountain there is neither food, nor water or skiing...

Something special happened at Sinai even before G‑d appeared to the Jewish peopleBut actually, something very special happened at Sinai even before G‑d appeared to the Jewish people. The Torah tells us that "Vayichan sham Yisrael neged hahar," "Israel camped there opposite the mountain." The biblical commentator Rashi points out that the word the Torah uses, וַיִחַן (vayichan), is in the singular tense—"he camped" rather than "they camped."

This, Rashi explains, denotes that the entire nation encamped there as one man with one heart.

The Dayenu tells us that if all that was accomplished was the Jewish people standing united for one moment—this itself is an accomplishment of amazing worth. Coming together as one and putting aside all our differences for a greater purpose is one of the greatest mitzvot we can do. It stands on its own, and was a moment of closeness to G‑d that carried significance even if the Torah had not been given.

C. Important Shavuot Laws and Customs Information,  and Eruv Tavshilin 
See these links  so you can  read online before Yom Tov or download and print to have for Yom Tov 
Full times and Laws and Customs appear below these links:

1. Links: Laws and Customs:

2. Links: Siddur companion to Shavuot Liturgy:

3. Links: Tikun Torah Study Companion:

4. Links - Laws of cooking on Yom Tov:

5. Full Texts of Laws and Customs / Eruv Tavshilin
The Laws and the Service of Shavuot /Eruv Tavshilin Orthodox Union  Staff – lightly edited and carefully modified for CBT by Rabbi Yaffe
What are the Laws and Service of Shavuot? As with all of the Jewish Holidays, the Laws and Service of the Day are intertwined. For our holidays are days of special service to the “Ribono shel Olam,” the Master of the Universe, Whose Written Torah decreed, and Whose Oral Torah defined and expanded upon, the

Z’man Matan Torateinu (The Time of the Giving of Our Torah) All the prayers and the Kiddush of this holiday are similar to the prayers and the Kiddush of the others of the Three Regalim (the others: Pesach and Sukkot), with the exception that Shavuot too has its own unique description: “et yom chag HaShavuot hazeh, z’man matan torateinu,” “this Day of Shavuot, the time of the Giving of the Torah.”
In the Mussaf Prayer, the Additional Prayers include mention of the unique sacrifice associated with Shavuot, including the “Two Breads,” the Grain Offering brought on the “fiftieth day,” so to speak, after the bringing of the Omer on the second day of Pesach. This Offering was brought from “new wheat.”

Mussaf (Additional) Prayer The description of the Additional Offering of Shavuot is introduced by the following paragraph:
UVYOM HABIKURIM, (And on the day of the first fruits,)

B’hak-riv’chem mincho chadosho Ladonoy, (When you bring a new meal offering to Hashem,)

B’shovu-osaychem, (On your Festival of Weeks;)

Mikro kodesh yih-ye lochem, (There shall be a holy convocation for you,)

Kol m’leches avodo lo sa-asu. (You may not do any laborious work.)

Other Prayer-ful Features of Shavuot bHallel is completed, as it is on the other “Regalim.”
When the Kiddush is recited, the “bracha,” or blessing, of “She-he-cheyanu,” “the One Who kept us alive,” is included. When the woman-of-the-house, in general, makes the blessings on the candles, she includes that bracha as well, before the candles are lit.
Even though on every other “Erev Yom Tov,” Holiday Eve, the Evening Services are begun somewhat earlier, in order to be “mosif min ha-chol al ha-kodesh,” “to add from the mundane time to the holy time,” on Shavuot we specifically do not do that!
Why not? Because the Torah says that “sheva shabbatot t’mimot,” “seven complete weeks” should transpire before Shavuot, and if we start early, that “t’mimiyut,” or “completeness” will be lacking! Kiddush should also not be recited before it is definitely night-time (three medium-size stars should be visible in the sky).

“Yom Tov Sheni shel Galuyot” (Second Day of the Holiday Celebrated Only in Diaspora)The meaning of this concept is that in the Diaspora, two days of holiday are celebrated where the Torah speaks of only one.

Shavuot Torah Readings, Haftarot and Megillat Ruth
On the first day of Shavuot, the reading is from Parshat Yitro, in the Book of Shemot, from “In the third month after the Jewish People left Egypt” till the end of the Parshah. This reading covers the event of “Maamad Har Sinai,” the stand of the Jewish People at Mt. Sinai, to receive the Torah.

The Maftir, the Second Torah Reading of the Holiday, comes from one of the sections of the Torah which deals directly with the Holiday of Shavuot, beginning “Uv’yom HaBikkurim,” “The Day of the Bringing of the First Fruits.”

The Reading from the Prophets on the first day of Shavuot comes from Yechezkel which deals with the mystical subject of the “Divine Chariot,” which also deals with a Revelation of G-d in prophecy to an individual but, through his book, to all of Israel.

On the Second day in the Diaspora, the First Torah Reading is from “All the First Born,” which deals with the various holidays, the second again from “Uv’yom HaBikkurim,” and the Reading from the Prophets from Chavakuk, which deals with a vision of Hashem in His holy Palace.

On the Second Day in the Diaspora, and on the one day of Shavuot in Eretz Yisrael, Megillat Ruth is read after Hallel. Various reasons for reading the Megillah on Shavuot are given.

Some are as follows: The conversion of Ruth to Judaism was by a painful route, as seen in the Story of Ruth, just as the acceptance of the Torah by the Jewish People was via the painful route of years of slavery in Egypt! The time of the year in which the events of the Megillah took place was in the grain-cutting season, as it says “in the beginning of the cutting of barley,” and one of the names of Shavuot is “Chag HaKatzir,” the Holiday of Grain Cutting.

The law that allowed Ruth to join the Jewish People was based on the Oral Law. Because according to the Written Law, “No Amonite or Moabite may enter the Jewish People (by marriage).” The Oral Law differentiated between the male Moabite and the female Moabitess, because the exclusion was tied to the cruelty of those nations, and those cruel decisions were made exclusively by the males – to show the importance of the Oral Law in the Jewish System, in the role of providing definition and explication of the Written Law.

Eruv Tavshilin On Jewish holidays, within each 24-hour (night-day) holiday unit, we are permitted to make preparations for all of that unit, but we are forbidden to make any preparations for the following unit, which begins after nightfall. 

The one exception is when a Friday holiday is followed seamlessly by Shabbat, in which case, cooking is permissible on Friday through a mechanism known as an eruv tavshilin, whereby the cooking process is begun prior to the holiday. If a holiday day -- whether the first or second day of a holiday -- falls on a Friday, an eruv tavshilin is set aside on the day preceding the holiday (Wednesday or Thursday afternoon), so that we will be permitted to prepare for Shabbat (cooking as well as any other necessary preparations) on the holiday. Only one eruv is required per household.

This eruv consists of a matzah, and a cooked food, such as meat, fish, or an unpeeled hard-boiled egg. Take the food items (it is a good idea to wrap them in aluminum foil, or another distinctive packaging, to easily keep them apart from the rest of the foods in your home), and give them to another person (if possible an individual who is a non-dependant), and say:

I hereby grant a share in this eruv to anyone who wishes to participate in it and to depend on it.
The one holding the food raises it a handbreadth, and then returns it to the person making the eruv, who then recites the following:

Blessed are you, L-rd our G‑d, king of the universe, who has sanctified us with his commandments, and commanded us concerning the mitzvah of eruv.
Through this [eruv] it shall be permissible for us to bake, cook, put away a dish [to preserve its heat], kindle a light, prepare, and do on the holiday all that is necessary for Shabbat -- for us and for all the Israelites who dwell in this city.
The eruv is put away until Shabbat, when it is eaten. In many communities, it is customary to use the  matzah as one of the two loaves used at the Shabbat meal.
Important notes:
The eruv tavshilin only allows food preparations if the food will be ready with ample time remaining before Shabbat; enough time to theoretically allow the food to be consumed before sunset (if a troop of guests happens to trudge in to your home). This is an imporant detail to bear in mind when preparing the cholent, which cooks on the stove until the following day.
The eruv tavshilin only allows one to cook on Friday for Shabbat, it does not permit cooking from one day of the holiday to the next (i.e. Thursday for Friday).

On holidays it is only permissible to cook from a pre-existent flame, one that is burning since the onset of the holiday.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Towards Shavuot -a thought - and Torah study for wherever you are this week


Passover  and Shavuot, most commonly known as the festivals that commemorate, respectively, the Exodus and the Giving of the Torah, each also have a pronounced agricultural element.

The Torah instructs that on the second day of Passover we should bring the first cutting of our barley harvest to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem as an offering to G-d, and not to partake of that year's barley crop until that offering is made. 

On Shavout, we are commanded to bring the first of our wheat harvest as an offering to G-d, and not partake of that year's wheat until this is done. 

Hence, the 49-day count leading from Passover to Shavuot is called "The Counting of the Omer"--a reference to the omer (a biblical measure) of barley that was brought on the first day of the count-and Shavuot is called Yom Habikkurim, "The Day of the First-Fruits Offering."

In Biblical tradition, barley is primarily animal food. Wheat is the key and ideal human food.

The instruction that we gain from these offerings is:
In each one of us there is a human and a beast, or-in the words of the Chassidic masters-a "G-dly soul" and an "animal soul."

 As regards our animal soul, most of us would agree that a "barley offering" is in order.

 Obviously, my animalistic passions and desires need taming and binding to the divine. I must therefore offer up my physical drives and desires to control by G-d, lest they get the better of me.

I may, however, believe that all intellectual and artistic endeavor is good and safe, inasmuch as it is uniquely human and refined. The Torah teaches us: No! We must also bring an offering of the first of our "wheat"--our human endeavor-to G-d.

 If we do not bind our intellect and creativity to G-d, no matter how profound our musings and how refined our aesthetic, we risk creating and inspiring falsehood and evil. 

Not all art inspires positive behavior or attitudes; not every philosophy is helpful or even benign.

Indeed, there is nothing more destructive than bad ideas and beliefs. 

All the worst evils of the 20th century stemmed not from greed and base animal passions, but from malignant ideologies. 

Only by shining the light of G-dliness as embodied in the Torah into our souls can we distinguish between the ideas and creations that elevate humanity and those that pollute it.

Each and every one of us, always, must begin every intellectual and creative endeavor by asking: "Does this essay or work of art or music move the world closer to being a dwelling place for G-d?"

This is the eternal question asked of each of us our by obligation to bring the first fruits offering on Shavout: "Did you offer the first of your wheat-your humanity-to G-d?"

May we all merit to receive the Torah anew with joy and inner meaning.

If you would like to join us on Zoom (a far superior experience) for any of the following classes -please reply to this email please click here to email me and I will provide access information.

All classes are available on Facebook Live here
In Honor of Yom Yerushalayim, anniversary of the Liberation of Jerusalem in 1967 / 5227

Special class Thursday 5/21/20 eve of 28 Iyar @ 7PM

Jerusalem and the Temple MountThe Key to the Secret of Judaism 

 Weekdays,  Tuesday -Fri   830 - 9AMEthics of our Fathers  

Tuesdays 7PMWeekly Torah Portion 

Not Just storiesMidrash on the Weekly Torah Portion 1PM Thursdays

Sunday 09:30 AM

Mastering Talmud: The Eruv

Baruch Dayan Emet - Goldie Newman

With great sadness, we report the passing of  a pillar of our community, Mrs.  Goldie Newman.

Her  family asked that we communicate the following:
Our beloved mother, Goldie Newman, passed away peacefully this morning, Sunday, May 17, (Iyar 23 5780) in her home, surrounded by love.

Goldie led a rich and active life.

She cherished her connections with family, friends, and the synagogue.

Her private funeral will be held tomorrow, Monday May 18th,  (Iyar 24, 5780) at 2 pm.

We hope to hold several zoom shiva- get-togethers during the upcoming week. We’ll send details shortly.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Happy Lag Ba'Omer and classes

Boruch Hashem
Dear Friends,
Happy Lag Ba'Omer!

We do not say tachanun at Mincha Monday nor all day Tuesday which is Lag Ba'Omer

Background and Customs 

Lag BaOmer is always on the 18th day of the month of Iyar.

The word “Lag” is made of of the Hebrew letters lamed (ל) and gimel (ג), which together have the numerical value of 33. “BaOmer” means “of the Omer.”

The Omer is the counting period that begins on the second day of Passover and culminates with the holiday of Shavuot, following day 49.

Hence Lag BaOmer is the 33rd day of the Omer count, which coincides with 18 Iyar.

What happened on 18 Iyar that’s worth celebrating?

 The Talmud relates that in the weeks between the Jewish holidays of Passover and Shavuot, a plague raged among the disciples of the great sage Rabbi Akiva (teacher of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai), “because they did not act respectfully towards each other.”

These weeks are therefore observed as a period of mourning, with various joyous activities proscribed by law and custom.

On Lag BaOmer the deaths ceased. Thus, Lag BaOmer also carries the theme of loving and respecting one’s fellow (ahavat Yisrael).

These weeks are therefore observed as a period of mourning, with various joyous activities proscribed by law and custom.

On Lag BaOmer the deaths ceased.

Thus, Lag BaOmer also carries the theme of loving and respecting one’s fellow (ahavat Yisrael).

Also, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, who lived in the second century of the Common Era, was the primary author of the classic text of Kabbalah, the Zohar.

On the day of his passing, Rabbi Shimon instructed his disciples to mark the date as “the day of my joy.”

Kabbalists explain  that the final day of a righteous person’s earthly life marks the point at which all their deeds, teachings and work achieve their culminating perfection and the zenith of their impact upon our lives.

Each Lag BaOmer, we celebrate Rabbi Shimon’s life.

Customary foods for the day include carob (which miraculously sustained Rabbi Shimon and his son when they were hiding from the Romans) and eggs (a sign of mourning).

Normally field-days BBq's and bonfires ae held. Alas this year Due to Covid-19 -we can't.

So try to do this at home with your shelter in place people 


Classes and Services for 

Tuesday and Wednesday 5/12 - 5/13

If you would like to join us on zoom rather than facebook -and for the minyan it's only on zoom,

please contact me on (
you can click here) or 617.595.6437 for the link and password.

This has become necessary due to  cyberattacks on our zoom events 

Zoom "Minyan"  (Zoom only)

A sorta "Minyan" at the same time we always pray so we can stay in

"playing shape" while we wait for the delayed minyan season to begin.

Tuesday and Wednesday 7AM 

Tuesday and Wed.    830 - 9AM: Ethics of our Fathers 

Tuesday 7PM: Weekly Torah Portion 

Wednesdays 6:30- 7:15 PM The Jewish Course of Why?  (Zoom only)

These classes will address common,interesting, relevant and important "why" questions that contemporary Jews ask about Judaism.

with the Rabbi of our Forest Park Minyan  - Rabbi Wolff

Friday, May 8, 2020

Shabbat Shalom from B'nai Torah - lots of important info here! Parshat Emor (5/8-9)

Dear Friends,

Shabbat Shalom!

This contains all the information you need for the coming Shabbat and  all the

classes, services, and activities taking place at B'nai Torah (Virtually) this coming Shabbat. Today (Friday 14 Iyar) is

Pesach Sheni  - see more information about it at the end of the email

If you need a siddur or your Talit andTefilin we can leave them out

for you.

We can also leave an artscroll siddur out for you -anyday - at CBT

Eunice Dr. 

Times and pre- Shabbat services for this

Shabbat, the 14th and

15th of Iyar  (5/8 -5/9)

Friday 5/8:

Pre Shabbat Service  6:45 PM on zoom (only)

An intro to Shabbat incorporating elements of the

Shabbat service

We"ll have a short sermon also!

After a lot of thought the service evolved considerably from last week - We"ll

have an opening ark service, a short sermon and some other tefilot /prayers

Since most people have the Artscroll siddur at home we"ll use  pages from the Artscroll siddur 


Candle Lighting is at 7:39PM

The evening Shema and the counting of the Omer  (30) should take place after 8:35 PM

Shabbat 5/9: Morning Shema to be recited by 9:11 AM

The Torah Portion is Emor , summary is at the end of this email

The evening Shema and the counting of the Omer (24) should take place after 8:35 PM 

We study the 4th chapter  of Pirkei Avot  (Ethics of our Fathers) in the afternoon after Mincha

Shabbat ends  and Havdala is recited after 8:46 PM

We will have our Bnai Torah Havdalah and Shavuah Tov greetings on

Facebook Live


Today, Friday 5/1 - Pre Shabbat Service  6:45 PM on zoom (only) -

Since most people have the Artscroll siddur at home we"ll use   pages from the Artscroll siddur 


Here are all the wonderful things happening at CBT this week:
Classes:  Please note these classes will continue every week until further notice
 All classes  are also available on Bnai Torah's Facebook Page:

 Every Sunday 09:30 AM Mastering Talmud
also on 

 Weekdays,  Tuesday -Fri   830 - 9AM: Ethics of our Fathers
also on 

Tuesdays 7PM: Weekly Torah Portion
also on 

The Jewish Course of Why?
These classes will address common,interesting, relevant and important "why" questions that contemporary Jews ask about Judaism.
Wednesdays 6:30- 7:15 PM - with the Rabbi of our Forest Park Minyan  - Rabbi Wolff
Zoom Link:

Not Just stories: Midrash on the Weekly Torah Portion 1PM Thursdays

also on


Thursdays 7PM,starting 4/23  Gateways to Prayer - "Shaarei Tefilah"
also on 

Zoom "Minyan"

A sorta "Minyan" at the same time we always pray so we can stay in

"playing shape" while we wait for the delayed minyan season to begin.

Every Sunday 8 AM

NEW - Wednesdays and Thursdays!

Every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday!


Friday 7AM

Pesach Sheni
Pesach Sheni means "Second Passover [Sacrifice]." It marks the day when someone who was unable to participate in the Passover offering in the proper time would observe the mitzvah exactly one month later.

It is customary to mark this day by eating matzah—shmurah matzah, if possible—and by omitting Tachanun from the prayer services. Because the Pascal sacrifice was eaten at night, it it is also customary  to eat some Matzah tonight at the Shabbat meal  (you can also have Challah or other breads -it's a custom -not actual Passover)

History: A year after the Exodus, G‑d instructed the people of Israel to bring the Passover offering on the afternoon of the fourteenth of Nissan, and to eat it that evening, roasted over the fire, together with matzah and bitter herbs, as they had done the previous year just before they left Egypt.

“There were, however, certain persons who had become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, and could not, therefore, prepare the Passover offering on that day. They approached Moses and Aaron . . . and they said: ‘. . . Why should we be deprived, and not be able to present G‑d’s offering in its time, amongst the children of Israel?’” (Numbers 9:6–7).

In response to their plea, G‑d established the 14th of Iyar as a day for the “Second Passover” (Pesach Sheni) for anyone who was unable to bring the offering on its appointed time in the previous month.

What Pesach Sheni means to us today is that none of us in any point of our lives is  ever a ‘lost case.’”


Torah Portion Synopsis

The Torah section of Emor (“Speak”) begins with the special laws pertaining to the kohanim (“priests”), the kohen gadol (“high priest”), and the Temple service: A kohen may not become ritually impure through contact with a dead body, save on the occasion of the death of a close relative. A kohen may not marry a divorcee, or a woman with a promiscuous past; a kohen gadol can marry only a virgin. A kohen with a physical deformity cannot serve in the Holy Temple, nor can a deformed animal be brought as an offering.

A newborn calf, lamb or kid must be left with its mother for seven days before being eligible for an offering; one may not slaughter an animal and its offspring on the same day.

The second part of Emor lists the annual Callings of Holiness—the festivals of the Jewish calendar: the weekly Shabbat; the bringing of the Passover offering on 14 Nissan; the seven-day Passover festival beginning on 15 Nissan; the bringing of the Omer offering from the first barley harvest on the second day of Passover, and the commencement, on that day, of the 49-day Counting of the Omer, culminating in the festival of Shavuot on the fiftieth day; a “remembrance of shofar blowing” on 1 Tishrei; a solemn fast day on 10 Tishrei; the Sukkot festival—during which we are to dwell in huts for seven days and take the “Four Kinds”—beginning on 15 Tishrei; and the immediately following holiday of the “eighth day” of Sukkot (Shemini Atzeret).

Next the Torah discusses the lighting of the menorah in the Temple, and the showbread (lechem hapanim) placed weekly on the table there.

Emor concludes with the incident of a man executed for blasphemy, and the penalties for murder (death) and for injuring one’s fellow or destroying his property (monetary compensation).

© Copyright, all rights reserved.
SERMON will take place at the Pre-Shabbat Zoom service

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Passing Of Rebbetzin Weisfogel, Wednesday and Thursday Schedule- New Zoom Minyan

Dear Friends,
Good evening
It is with sadness that we share with you the passing of Dr. Bella Kranzler Weisfogel, z'l, wife of the late Rabbi Alex Weisfogel, and mother of Dr. Debby Yarmush, Mrs. Rhoda Brandriss and Dr. Jerry Weisfogel.

Dr. Bella and Rabbi Alex Weisfogel z'l were married for over 64 years and served together as Rabbi and Rebbetzin of Congregation Kodimoh in the Springfield, MA community, for close to a half a century, nurturing orthodox Judaism in the U.S. at a crucial time in its development. 
The funeral took place in Israel Tuesday morning, May 5. Her daughter, Dr. Debby Yarmush will be receiving condolence calls by phone (617 549 3016) from 2:00pm - 4:00pm and 6:00pm - 8:00pm or by email at Shiva will be observed through Sunday May 10, 2020. 
May Hashem console the Yarmush, Brandriss, Weisfogel, and Kranzler families among those that mourn for Zion and Jerusalem. 

Classes and Services Wednesday 5/6/2020 

 830 - 9AM: Ethics of our Fathers

also on 

The Jewish Course of Why?

These classes will address common,interesting, relevant and important "why" questions

that contemporary Jews ask about Judaism.

Wednesdays 6:30- 7:15 PM - with the Rabbi of our Forest Park Minyan  - Rabbi Wolff

Zoom Link:

Classes and Services Thursday 5/7/2020 
Zoom Service 7:AM

Not Just stories: Midrash on the Weekly Torah Portion 1PM Thursdays

also on

Thursdays 7PM: Gateways to Prayer - "Shaarei Tefilah"

Sunday, May 3, 2020

No classes Monday also Full Tuesday Schedule

Dear Friends,
Good evening

There are no classes and services on Monday 5/4.

On Tuesday 5/5 we have a full Schedule as follows:

If you would like to pick up your Talit and Tefillin or a would like a spare 
Artscroll Siddur  for home use that we are happy to lend you, just contact Rabbi 
Yaffe 617.595.6437 or

Tuesday  5/5/20

1. Zoom "Minyan" 

at  7AM

2. 830 - 9AM: Ethics of our Fathers 

3. Tuesdays 7PM: Weekly Torah Portion

also on

If you would like to pick up your Talit and Tefillin or a would like a spare 
Artscroll Siddur  for home use that we are happy to lend you, just contact Rabbi 
Yaffe 617.595.6437 or