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Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran

News and updates about Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Safran

The essential vulnerability of the stranger

The world is “a narrow bridge”.  We sojourn here but for the blink of an eye.  This is the nature of our condition as visitors, strangers.

The essential vulnerability of the stranger

May you be like Ephraim and Menashe

Yaakov’s blessing to his grandsons Ephraim and Menashe and a lesson for our lives.

May you be like Ephraim and Menashe

Whence comes strength

We all have hidden powers, as Jacob discovered when he found the strength to lift the rock from the well for Rachel.

Whence comes strength

It can't happen here, can it?

US Jews are at a moment in time when they feel the same vulnerabilities that Jews have felt in too many lands and at too many times.

It can't happen here, can it?

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match...

In the parasha: To each a perfect match.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match...

A marriage forever young

Why would the angels need to further endear Sarai to her husband by pointing out how she remained modestly in her tent?

A marriage forever young

Doing your own thing - not so fast

The mamzer is fully a Jew; obligated in all mitzvoth.  But the spiritual consequences of his birth are profound.

Doing your own thing - not so fast

To what can he be compared …?

As Rashi noted, the taste of the tree and the taste of its fruit were to be one.  Our families, our children, are recognizable as ours.

To what can he be compared …?

The violence of the stranger

Smile at a stranger and you just may change a life - or save one..

The violence of the stranger

No, you don't need to finish it all!

It is not your responsibility to finish the work [of perfecting the world], but you are not free to desist from it either – - Rabbi Tarfon,

No, you don't need to finish it all!

Devarim to Tisha B’Av

The power of derech eretz.- it is impossible to be rude, arrogant, rough and unpleasant while remaining a devoted servant of God.

Devarim to Tisha B’Av

Extremism at the Kotel, holy zealotry in the desert

How to distinguish holy zealotry from extremism.

Extremism at the Kotel, holy zealotry in the desert

We wear the holiness of Shabbat

We would not wear our everyday clothes to a wedding, so how much more should we dress for the Shabbat!

We wear the holiness of Shabbat

Shlach: When to confront and when to lay low

Do not feed a false fire. It will only grow stronger.

Shlach: When to confront and when to lay low

The strength of the butterfly - in memory of Rabbi Wallerstein

The natural world is brimming with miracles, but the transmutation of caterpillar into butterfly is in a class of its own.

The strength of the butterfly - in memory of Rabbi Wallerstein

What changes when we count?

Time is unaffected by us.  It moves on, second by second, tick by tick, regardless of our efforts.  And yet we are told to count.

What changes when we count?

To hear another, to see another, to validate another

Rav Dr. Abraham Twerski z"l: “It is virtually impossible to do anything wholeheartedly for a person unless you empathize with him."

To hear another, to see another, to validate another

Vayikra: Are there really unconscious mistakes?

What is sin? About missing the mark. The Vilna Gaon, taught that every sin is the result of a bad trait, which must be overcome,

Vayikra: Are there really unconscious mistakes?

The challenge of an honest eulogy

Saying goodbye:Rabbis are often anxious standing before a funeral chapel filled people each wondering "how the rabbi will handle this one.”

The challenge of an honest eulogy

Mesirut Nefesh - the secret to Jewish survival

Mesirut nefesh does not make you a hero, not in the sense that we often think of heroes.  There are no medals.

Mesirut Nefesh - the secret to Jewish survival

Pomegranates and bells: When silence is lashon hara

The judgement of when to speak up and when to remain silent is our constant challenge.

Pomegranates and bells: When silence is lashon hara

Sexual Abuse

God hears. So must we. We must look unflinchingly at the horror endured by the most vulnerable people in our time, victims of sexual abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Az Yashir: Song touches the eternal

Some say that prayer is not fully prayer until it contains that ineffable spark that only true song brings to it.

Az Yashir: Song touches the eternal

Do we double down like Pharaoh when we are wrong?

The Steipler Gaon teaches that our denial does not result from ignorance, but is the result of a lack of will. Not so Pharaoh.

Do we double down like Pharaoh when we are wrong?

Grief and the care that eases it

Grief is likened to a sword over one's neck at first, says the Rambam, then it moves to another part of the room but it is still there.

Grief and the care that eases it

To each his appropriate blessing

Same hat.  Same clothes. Same curriculum.  Same Jew.  Same, same, same! Let's give today's young people the chance to use their strengths.

To each his appropriate blessing

Jacob's fear of exile

Jacob's fears were justified. One need only look at the last fifty years of American Jewish history to appreciate the dangers of galut!

Jacob's fear of exile

A simple “Good Shabbos” can change the world

The Maharal explains that when you walk by someone without offering a greeting you make him or her feel invisible and insignificant.

A simple “Good Shabbos” can change the world

One day at a time

Our own experiences suggest that time, rather than being a straight arrow, is an undulating chord.  Does that explain Yaakov's patience?

One day at a time

Hineini - I am here!

Abraham's test and our future.

Hineini - I am here!

To kiss the Torah, to dance with it, to be one with it

And how do Jews dance?  Not individually but in a line with hands clasped or in a circle – a gathering, a community, a unity.  Together.

To kiss the Torah, to dance with it, to be one with it

Write this song for yourselves...

The Torah is a song. Everyone can relate to music..Every Jew will hear the music of Torah.

Write this song for yourselves...

Slichot: It's never too early to say I'm sorry

We want to be there first, at the head of the line, to ask for mercy and forgiveness, before the Day of Judgment..

Slichot: It's never too early to say I'm sorry

When a marriage fails

A plea for peace and understanding. Divorce, with all its hurt, uncertainty and loss should not lead to lifelong enmity.

When a marriage fails

WAZE can’t get you there - it's not found by using algorithms

When one comes up to the Beit Hamikdash he should ask of people along the way, “Where is it? Which road leads me to the House of God?”

WAZE can’t get you there - it's not found by using algorithms

Jealousy’s a hungry heart

How can we ensure our wants are not driven by envy?

Jealousy’s a hungry heart

Lives taken unintentionally

When life is lost for whatever reason there must be an accounting. The day after such a tragedy cannot be as if nothing happened.

Lives taken unintentionally

Through the eyes of a donkey

Just like Bilaam’s donkey “turning aside”, life has a way of recognizing that the path is blocked.

Through the eyes of a donkey

You are what you wear

The Talmud teaches us to be sure our Shabbat attire is not the same as our weekday attire.

You are what you wear

The 'Meraglim" among us: Truth, fake news, and Israel

The concept of fake news is as old as information itself.- and the Story of the Spies in this week's Torah Reading, is an early example.

The 'Meraglim" among us: Truth, fake news, and Israel

Loving your neighbor while standing on one foot

The world suggests it’s wiser to maintain the walls that separate neighbor from neighbor. But what does G-d want?

 Loving your neighbor while standing on one foot

R’Baz and the Racham - what a non kosher bird has to say

The bird’s call is so raucous and so recognizable that some say it is the source of our word 'shriek' - but in Hebrew, it means a whistle.

R’Baz and the Racham - what a non kosher bird has to say

Bring down the temperature

The Torah's distinction between turtledove and pigeon teaches us a lesson about loyalty, jealousy and zealotry.

Bring down the temperature

What we hide, what we reveal

Who stands behind the masks we wear?

What we hide, what we reveal

Act first, listen second - an act of faith

The Sadducee mocked Rava, “You are an impetuous people, for you put your mouth before your ears.

Act first, listen second - an act of faith

The essential ingredient in Manna: Faith

Did God really want us to simply accept the gracious gift from His outstretched hand so that our faith would grow and deepen?

The essential ingredient in Manna: Faith

Strangers in a strange land

A meeting of Congress opened with a prayer to God (He/She/It) and concluded with “Amen” and “A-women”. We really are strangers.

Strangers in a strange land

The blessing we want for our grandchildren

Ephraim and Menashe. How is it that when we lay our hands upon our sons and grandsons' heads to bless them it is these two names we name?

The blessing we want for our grandchildren

View the Safran dreidel collection - a feast for Hanukkah eyes

From the US, Israel, Spain, Hungary, India, Russia, Scotland - all over the world! Made of glass, wood, metal and, yes, from clay.

View the Safran dreidel collection - a feast for Hanukkah eyes

Thou shalt not covet riches

Jealousy is the terror of seeing someone achieve more than us. What would we do to make sure others don’t get a bigger piece of the pie?

Thou shalt  not covet riches

Feed me! Esau reveals his true nature

What we eat and how we eat distinguish us and elevate us from the beasts of the fields.

Feed me! Esau reveals his true nature

Aging: It's only skin deep

If you take away the lines, do you take away the joy and sadness? The wisdom?

Aging: It's only skin deep

I am here - which of us could pass that test?

A poet might find irony is the request.  A dramatist, cruelty.  A comedian, absurdity. But Abraham was simply a man of G-d.

I am here - which of us could pass that test?

Say what you mean - words matter!

It is only Man who is capable of communicating the depth of his intellect and his soul; only man can communicate his heart.

Say what you mean - words matter!

Marking time

The moments of our lives...do we control our calendar or does it control us?

Marking time

Can we change?

Every space, every line in the Torah has meaning.  Even the number of pesukim between topics can teach us a lesson-that change takes time.

Can we change?

A simple phone call will do

It shouldn’t take a pandemic to get us to make sure our parents know our feelings, although it brought out the desire to protect them..

A simple phone call will do

What we remember, what we forget

This week we read the commandment to remember Amalek. We remember Amalek because that is the memory that safeguards us.

What we remember, what we forget

The hundred and first time

Ask yeshiva bochurim the most critical point of their learning and the answer will be to chazer, to chazer – to review, to review.

The hundred and first time

Life - one step at a time

The journey of life is not about the destination but about exploration - Nitin Namdeo. Torah thoughts for Matot-Masei.

Life - one step at a time