What's the Spiel?
18 Tevet 5784 - December 30, 2023
-Make You Like Ephraim and Menashe: Is It Possible?-
In Parshat Vayechi, Yaakov blesses his grandchildren, Menashe and Ephraim, as it says, “So he blessed them that day, saying, ‘By you shall Israel invoke blessings, saying: God make you like Ephraim and Menashe.’ Thus, he put Ephraim before Menashe” (Bereshit 48:20). According to our tradition, Yaakov’s words laid the foundation for how parents shall bless their children throughout the generations, as Rashi notes, “When one wishes to bless his sons, he will bless them by reciting the formula with which [Ephraim and Menashe] were blessed. A man will say to his son, ‘God make you like Ephraim and Menashe.’” That being said, Rav Moshe Feinstein wonders why we would bless our children in such a manner. Asks Rav Moshe, “Why do we bless the children that they should be like Ephraim and Menashe? After all, this is an impossible spiritual level to attain! Behold, it would be better if one hopes for his children to become like the contemporary learned ones of thier particular generation” (Sefer Kol Ram, Parshat Vayechi 246:12). Rav Moshe is raising a practical concern about the language of this blessing: How can we pray that our children be like Ephraim and Menashe – two spiritual giants whose spiritual prowess and power could never be equaled or replicated by anyone in our time? Would it not be more reasonable to simply pray that they be like the spiritual leaders of our day and age, however lesser that quality may be?
Rav Moshe answers his own question as follows: It seems that when we recite the same blessing Yaakov bestowed upon his two grandchildren, we do so in order to instruct our children that “there are many levels of spirituality, and one must constantly strive for the greatest level” (Ibid.). By setting the bar as high as possible, we encourage our children to never settle for spiritual mediocrity, and instead, to always reach for spiritual greatness. If one begins one’s spiritual journey with the highest hopes and grandest expectations, committing their whole being to the pursuit of spiritual excellence, then, says Rav Moshe, “it will be assured that he will attain some degree of spiritual goodness, in whatever capacity. However, if at the outset one endeavors to attain a low level of spirituality,” either because they believe that is all they can achieve, or because they only wish to put in minimal effort, then in the end, they will never realize their fullest spiritual potential, as they will never give themselves the chance to see what they might be capable of accomplishing (Ibid.).
Blessing our children that they should be like Ephraim and Menashe is just as aspirational as it is inspirational. We know we will never be like these two powerhouses of holiness, righteousness and spirituality. Yet, we, each in our own way, can aim to be constant works in progress – always moving upwards in our spiritual development – always reaching higher and higher and never settling for averageness. If we do this, in the end, we will have attained great spiritual levels according to our own capabilities. This is the blessing with which we bless our children. This is the hope we have for our next generation – to seek spiritual greatness, aim high, and fulfill God-given potential.
Schedule of Services at B'nai Abraham
Mincha & Kabbalat Shabbat
Monday (Federal Holiday)
Tuesday - Friday
Join us on Sunday, January 14 from 5:00PM to 6:30PM at Congregation Tiferet Israel to learn about the vital work of the Ach Gadol (Big Brother) Lone Soldier Organization in Israel.
Ach Gadol focuses on supporting Lone Soldiers during their IDF service. It does so through a unique mentorship model, pairing volunteers (all former Lone Soldiers) with those on active duty. Ach Gadol provides the young men and women with one-on-one personal guidance, essential support, and a life-long network. The ongoing war in Israel has brought considerable challenges for Lone Soldiers - and has made Ach Gadol’s work more meaningful, impactful, and necessary than ever.
We will have the honor of hearing from the CEO of Ach Gadol, Daniel Aharon, along with Maj. (Res.) Hadas, an Ethiopian and Bedouin officer of distinction, and Staff Sgt. (Res.) Vitaly, who spent three months fighting in Ukraine before drafting to IDF reserve duty in October, will share their unique experiences, including how the current war has impacted their lives and the lives of thousands of Lone Soldiers.
Admission is free, but we ask that people register in advance. Register Here!
Email Arthur Altman at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Stan Zimmerman, writer for The Golden Girls, Roseanne, Gilmore Girls, brings to life the last words written in letters by individuals lost to suicide — including celebrities, veterans, kids that were bullied, LGBTQ, and the clinically depressed — and those who have survived suicide attempts. Since its acclaimed first performance at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in 2015, the play has traveled across the country, raising awareness and offering hope for suicide prevention.
January 20 - 7:30 PM
Doug Smith Performance Center
206 W 2nd Street Georgetown
*Talkback to follow
January 21 - 3:00 PM
Gloria & Harvey Evans Performance Center at the Dell JCC
Austin 7300 Hart Lane Austin
*Talkback to follow
*Tickets go on sale soon*
Tell America's Leaders to Stand with Israel!
Anti-Israel activists are calling members of Congress. Make your pro-Israel voice heard by calling your elected officials to make clear you stand with our ally Israel against Hamas terrorism!
There were many reasons people sponsored a Kiddush this past year - from celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, and bar mitzvahs, to commemorating loved ones' yahrzeits, honoring fellow community members for their service, or just to show love and commitment to our chevrah. It is a donation that helps bring people together and build community. We extend our heartfelt thanks to all who have donated.
We look forward to sharing a meal in celebration of your special event in 2024. The calendar is filling up quickly – click here to reserve your special date now while it is still available.
Thank you Iris Varkony for sponsoring Kiddush in loving memory of her mother, Hannah bat Atara Korola zl.
If you would like to sponsor a Kiddush in February, March or beyond, please take a look at our calendar and reserve your spot! THANK YOU for supporting CTI and our community with your sponsorship! Also a big thank you to the many people who help with kiddush prep and cleanup!!! Your efforts are very much appreciated!
- Jeanette & Lowell Brickman, Anniversary on December 30
- Daniel & Natalie Ledeen, Anniversary on December 30
- Charles Kaufman, Birthday on December 31
- Marshall Humble, Birthday on January 2
- Stephen & Marcia Sutter, Anniversary on January 4
- Suzanne Newberg, Birthday on January 4
*Please update your shulcloud account with birthdays, anniversaries, and Yahrtzeits to make sure they're highlighted in the Spiel. If you have any questions on how to do so email email@example.com*
- Benjamin Brener, Father of Lazaro Brener, on Monday 20 Tevet
- Lottie Orent, Mother of Amnon Orent, on Tuesday 21 Tevet
Take Your Tanakh Series
Tuesday Night | 7:00pm - The Book of Isaiah
Wednesday Morning | 8:15am - The Book of Job
Click Here for more information on how to join these exciting classes.
Thank you to Myles Shaftel, Mark Kamen, David Chapin,
and Offer Shavit for their aliyah donations.
Thank you to Salomon Stavchansky for his donation to the Building Fund.
Thank you to Ben Heyen for his donation to the General Fund.
Thank you to Clarity Cie for her donation In Honor Of the Rabbi's classes.
Thank you to our anonymous donors.
- Allene Novy-Portnoy; Hannah Bassa bat Sarah Osnat
- Avshalom ben Hannah Bassa
- Cindy Newman
- Janet Goldberg; Shayna Masha bat Chasha Mina
- Ken Friedman
- Rebecca Millner; Rivkah bat Shoshana
- Sheina Ruchel bat Henya Leah
- Tzvi David ben Rivka Golda
- Yoel Simcha ben Chaya Risha
- Sulta bat Nedgma
- Zvi Aharon ben Bayla
- Yaira bat Sarah
- Tamar bat Chaya
- Ilana bat Gheita
- HaRav Avram Meir ben Eli Yosef v'Shira Chanah.
- Rabbi Harold Liebowitz, HaRav Chaim Alter ben Necha.
- Baruch Akiva Ben Rivka
- Miriam bat Helen
- Rivka Michal bat Sarah Chana
- Lori Garza
- Yisroel Natan ben Sarah
- Masha Gitil bas Chaya Yita
- Allen Levinson; Avraham Yitzchak ben Gittel
- Moshe ben Reizel
- Avigail Malkah bat Devorah
- David Moshe ben Sylvia
- Shoshana bat Yocheved
- Miriam bat Rachel v'Mordechai
- Alta Shoshana bat Shulamit
- Meir Psachia ben Tziril
- Geni Berman Abitbol
- Beilya Golda bat Leah
- Yosef Yehoshua ben Sarah
- Jonathan Malawer (Yosef ben Bracha)
- Fivel ben Sarah HaLevi
- Adam ben Chanah
- Rafael ben Sheindal Leah
- Aharon Asher ben Chaya Naomi
- Esther Malka Fraida bat Serel Chaya Raiza
- Esther Reva bat Malka
- Avraham ben Rut
- Sheva Eva bat Bella.
- Moshe ben Rut
- Shulkah Malka bat Tziporah
- Chandal bat Basia
- Shmuel Dovid bat Malka
- Anthony Ben Devorah
- Shayna Leah bat Yehudit
- Reuven ben Shira
- Batyah bat Sara
- Rachel Tzivia bat Malka
- Chava Golda bat Leah
- David Yosef ben Aga
- Layla Tzohara bat Naomi Rivkeh
- Shimon Yaakov ben Sarah
Wishing all Cholei Yisrael a Refuah Shlayma.
Dear Tiferet Friends,
If you placed a name on the Refuah Shelayma list and G-d willing the person is well,
please let us know. Also, if you have a friend or family member who needs
prayers for healing, again please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org