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24 Shevat 5784 - February 3, 2024

Shabbat Mevarchim - Parshat Yitro

Rabbi's Reflections

-With Me: Bring Your Self to Heaven-

Parshat Yitro contains the most defining experience for the Jewish people – the giving of the Aseret HaDibrot, the Ten Commandments, on Mount Sinai. As the people achieve their new status as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Shemot 19:6), they are commanded, “With Me, therefore, you shall not make any gods of silver, nor shall you make for yourselves any gods of gold” (Ibid., 20:20). The language, “With Me,” may appear strange. What does God mean when He tells the people they may not construct idols of silver and gold “With Me”? To help answer this question, we should turn to the words of Rav Shimshon Raphael Hirsch, who explains that the language, “With Me” is particularly instructive because it speaks to a real spiritual need the Jew has to come closer to God, and also, how that spiritual need is to be met. According to Rav Hirsch, “With Me” means “You shall not fashion what is with Me; rather, I command you to fashion what is with you. Your task is not to bring what is in heaven down to you on earth, but to elevate everything on earth to Me. When you come before Me, do not represent to yourselves images that you imagine are with Me in heaven; rather, ponder on how I wish things to be shaped by you on earth. When you come before Me, what should concern you is not heaven, but the earth” (Commentary on Shemot 20:21). 

Every Jew has a deep and profound desire, a desperate need to connect with their Creator. However, the way to make that connection is not to by getting lost in imaginings of heaven, cosmic forces and otherworldly happenings – wondering how we can usher the divine down to earth. Rather, the way to connect to God is by both embracing and struggling with the world we live in – the world we create for ourselves, the world we enhance and repair – and elevate all of our efforts, our passions, hopes, fears and dreams up to heaven. We can only come close to God if we bring ourselves, all that we have, all that we are, before Him. It seems that God is more interested in how we live here on earth than He is in how we think He lives in heaven. Indeed, Judaism requires the individual to work to sanctify the world, not to negate it in favor of that which is beyond. The most effective and meaningful way to narrow the gap between God and the human is to take the first step ourselves, present ourselves, give ourselves, and show that we have done all we could with the life given to us to help make this world a better place – spiritually through our observance of the Torah and materially through the work of our hands. As Heschel writes, “there is heaven and everything else…The world this side of heaven is worth working in…” (The Sabbath, p 47). 

This Shabbat, let us reflect on the idea that in order to make a spiritual connection with our Maker, we need to first focus on what we do in this world – how we use our time and resources, how we create lasting relationships with others and how we devote ourselves to living lives of meaning and spiritual value. Only by knowing who we are and what we do, only by taking all that we have and sanctify it for a higher purpose, can we then aspire to touch the boundaries of heaven. Our spiritual connections with God do not come from our imagination, they come from our action, so let us act today to bridge the gap, and “perfect the world under the sovereignty of the Almighty” (Aleinu Prayer). 

Shabbat Shalom!

-Rabbi Dan

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A big Todah Rabbah and Kol HaKavod to the Ach Gadol team for sharing their inspiring stories and mission on January 14 at CTI! It was truly an honor to be their first stop on their inaugural visit to the United States! A special Thank You to Jay Rubin for his last-minute acquisition of a projector and screen, and to everyone who helped put on this event.


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Thank you Gary & Karin Gerstenhaber for sponsoring Kiddush in loving memory of Gary's grandfather, Harry Gerstenhaber zl

If you would like to sponsor a Kiddush in March, April 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! 

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Mazel Tov!

  • Eliana Clifford, Birthday February 4
  • Jennifer (Vonne) Kaufman, Birthday February 6
  • Eliav Millner, Birthday February 7
  • Lior Gordon, Birthday February 7
  • Diane Radin, Birthday February 9

Yahrtzeit Remembrances

  • Bruce Weinberg, Brother of Barb Altman, on Saturday 24 Shevat
  • Richard Selig, Father of Edward Selig, on Saturday 24 Shevat
  • Jack Grevey, Grandfather of Sean Clifford, on Thursday 29 Shevat

*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*

Torah Classes at CTI

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 Beth and Eric Shapiro for their donation

in honor of Eliana Clifford's Bat Mitzvah.

Thank you to Gary and Karin Gerstenhaber for their donation

to the Building Fund in memory of Ruth Stavchansky.

Thank you to Jay Rubin for his aliyah donation.

Thank you to Vicky Gould for her donations to the Chesed Fund, General Fund, Tendler Fund, and Youth Educator Fund, in memory of Jan Gould z"l.

Thank you to Marty and Katie Price for their

donation to the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund.

Thank you to Ben Heyen for his donation to the General Fund.

Thank you to our anonymous donors.

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Contact Us!

Rabbi Dan Millner: 

Phone: 512-410-0336 X101

For more contact numbers and emails, visit our website.

Refuah Shelayma To:

  • 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
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  • 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.
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  • Chandal bat Basia
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  • Anthony Ben Devorah
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  • Batyah bat Sara
  • Rachel Tzivia bat Malka
  • Chava Golda bat Leah
  • David Yosef ben Aga
  • Layla Tzohara bat Naomi Rivkeh
  • Shimon Yaakov ben Sarah

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