Category Archives: Weekly Messages

Weekly Message 27th July

Rabbi’s Message:

This Thursday night/Friday is the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Av, in Hebrew it’s called – Tu B’Av.
This day has been called the Jewish Valentines Day because it was set aside since Talmudic times, and even before, as a national matchmaking day.
The Talmud equates the greatness of this day with Yom Kippur.
Tu B’Av is considered a day of good luck and spiritual strength because the moon shines full (as it does on every 15th of the Jewish month), however, in this month it comes right after the sad day of Tisha B’Av and therefore it is the light that comes after the darkness. The happiness & joy experienced after sadness is a lot stronger.

Much of of life’s greatest experiences and successes are set up in this way.

First comes a temporary downfall or a seeming failure or breakdown, but when we persevere through it, we come out a lot stronger. It’s almost like the downfall brought about the success, just like a seed needs to first rot in the ground in order to produce growth.

This is life’s greatest secret, to allow our emotions to flow and even experience temporary difficulty in order for infinitely greater happiness and success to follow.

Have a peaceful Shabbos!

Rabbi Chaim & Dina

Weekly Message 20th July

Rabbi’s Message:

Dina and I wish a hearty Mazal Tov to Richard and Penelope Winston on the birth of a baby boy! May they have tremendous Nachat from him and may he bring many blessings into their home and into their life!

We also wish a hearty Mazal Tov to Michelle Zwi  on the birth of a grandson – Ian Hersch Cummins. A big Mazal Tov to her daughter Jolyn, great grandmother – Helga Zwi and the entire Zwi family!


This Saturday night and Sunday is TishaB’av, the saddest day on the Jewish calendar.

We have services on Saturday evening after Shabbat – 6:30 pm with the reading of ‘Eicha’ a vivid description of the destruction of Jerusalem. There are also services on Sunday morning 8 am
(without Tefilin) and Sunday afternoon 4:30 pm (with Tefilin) to end of the Fast.

Even if you are not fasting it is meaningful to participate in a Tisha B’av service.


This week I discovered a great initiative headed by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks which is about to be launched called 929. The number corresponds to the amount of chapters in the bible and they are creating a website, a platform, with classes and insights on the bible (Hebrew and English) to encourage people all over the world to study one chapter of Tanach a day.

We have our own class on the bible (coffee with prophets) going on for a couple of months now which has taken off nicely. It runs every Wednesday at 11:30 am at Shul. We have very stimulating and robust discussions and everyone enjoys participating. The events recorded in the bible are fascinating and controversial. It is uncanny how closely they relate to modern day events.

We are currently more than half way through the book of Joshua and it will be very satisfactory when we celebrate the conclusion of one whole book.

I encourage you to jump along if you have the time!

Dina and I wish you a peaceful and relaxing Shabbat.

Weekly Message 13th July

Rabbi’s Message:

This evening we enter the ‘Nine Days’. During this time the traditional mourning intensifies as we don’t eat meat or drink wine (except for on Shabbat).

Many tragedies occurred during this time on the Jewish calendar, but we mourn primarily for the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem. This is because we believe that those tragedies are the source and cause of all other tragedies, namely, the separation between heaven and earth, between Hashem and Jerusalem.

The Temple was a symbol of this harmony.

Jerusalem has been rebuilt but the place in which Hashem dwelt openly – the Temple, hasn’t.

Every time we perform an act of goodness we draw G-dliness, the source of life, into the world.

We don’t know why some have a life which seems more blessed than others because we are not privy to the details of how Hashem runs the world. We do know, however, that every act of goodness and kindness brings the world closer to the time when suffering will no longer be part of life’s experiences. This is what we are encouraged to think about during these Nine Days.

Recently, the whole world was transfixed on the scary predicament of the 12 teenage boys and their coach trapped in a cave because our hearts go out for other people’s suffering, whether we know them, or whether they are Jewish or not. Thank G-d they are all fine, but unfortunately one diver, a hero, died trying to save them. His name was Saman Gunan. He will be immensely rewarded by Hashem for his heroism and self sacrifice.

May Hashem put an end to all suffering Amen!

Shabbat Shalom

Chaim & Dina

Weekly Message 6th July

Rabbi’s Message:

In this week’s reading we encounter a ‘zealot’, what you might call a ‘passionate enthusiast’, an individual by the name of Pinchas who saw an unjust behaviour which had no clear Jewish law how to respond to. He took the matter into his own hands and acted bravely to eradicate it, and for this he was rewarded. (see portion Pinchas)

In addition to the obvious lesson about standing up for what’s right even when others don’t, there is an equally important lesson here.

Having zeal or enthusiasm to fix a problem could be very dangerous too, it all depends where it is coming from.

For example; We all get passionate about our children’s development, about the skills they’re acquiring, we only want the best of the best for them. Sometimes we get too passionate and drown them in our expectations or we get angry with them. Our passion toward something has to come from a place of calm, it has to be thought out and deliberate. Ask yourself; Is my passion justified or am I just frustrated? Am I overenthusiastic about everything? Could it be a form of selfishness that we are imposing on others?

Pinchas was a calm and peaceful man, he did what he did because it was the right thing, not because he had an anger problem or because he had a bad night’s sleep.

Impulsive excitement could be damaging, but thought out enthusiasm is a powerful force for good.

Good Shabbos!

Weekly Message 30th 2018

Rabbi’s Message:

This Sunday is the fast of the 17 of Tammuz. This is the start of the Three week mourning period which concludes with Tisha B’av – the 9th day of Av.


Don’t forget to vote for Dina as the local hero for the Chatswood Westfield program!

Link to vote:


We are in the midst of the soccer world cup. Even people who don’t usually follow soccer enjoy following this competition which is the greatest stage for the sport. Winning the world cup is the dream of every soccer player and it brings great pride to the winning country.

Soccer is a beautiful game and during my two and half years in Brazil I developed a passion for the game.

One memory I have from that time is when Ronaldinho was asked whether he watches the matches when Brazil play, and his answer was no! He doesn’t like watching soccer, he would check the results but has no interest in watching the games. Obviously he enjoys playing it. He was the best in the world for quite some time!

At first I couldn’t make sense of it, but then I realised that he enjoys making the difference in a match but doesn’t enjoy watching something he can’t do anything about. He is driven when he is involved but not to watch from the side lines.

A player on the field cannot walk away from the game when it’s not going the way they like it, they have to keep on fighting for the team because they are “IN IT”. Fans on the other hand are not as involved, they can, and often do walk away when the team is losing.

Life is not a game but there’s is a lot we can learn from sport.

Do you see yourself as a player on the field, or a fan? To you fight and persist for important matters, or do you walk away when it is no longer exciting?

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Chaim

Weekly Message 22nd June 2018

Rabbi’s Message:

Is there room for “positive irrationality” in our lives?

Whenever you meet someone who thinks or feels different to you, you are likely to feel that some of the things they want are irrational to you.

Often in a marriage spouses get annoyed at each other thinking; ‘why does he/she like doing that?! Or ‘why does he/she care to have in that specific way?!

These frustrating situations can either tear you apart, or become a tremendous opportunity to bond with your spouse. When you do something for someone else just because THEY like it, it will bring you closer together in a way that nothing else will, precisely because you did it purely for them (providing you did it willingly).

This is the purpose of the ‘irrational’ Mitzvahs in the Torah like the Red Heifer that appears in this week’s reading.

Hashem provided them for this reason so we can do something for him that in our world doesn’t make sense but in Hashem’s world it does, we can reject it because of the irrationality, or we can do it purely because for Hashem it is meaningful and real.

Things that seem irrational to you, might be the best glue for your relationship!

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Chaim

Weekly Message 15th June 2018

Rabbi’s Message:

Dina and I wish blessings of comfort and good health to Bessie Stein on the passing of her Husband Ellie who was a regular at our Shul for three decades.

We also wish a long and healthy life to Ellie’s daughter Gillian Heller, her husband Steven, and to her sisters Debbie and Sharon and their families.

We will be welcoming them to Shul this Friday evening.

This week we read about a massive argument that broke out in the Jewish community. This argument didn’t just ‘break out’ as much as it was instigated and skillfully led by a very ‘clever’ man named Korach – Moses first cousin.

If you examine the global community today, you will find that there is a lot divisiveness and strong disagreements particularly around leadership and political issues. It seems very difficult to have a civil discussion about important issues without offending someone or causing unpleasant feelings. People seem to get easily upset when they hear a contrary view.

What is the way to resolve this and make a more pleasant climate?

Perhaps the solution is to focus on things that we can actually change as individuals. Having an opinion on a major global issue that we don’t have the power to change can put us on edge, feeling vulnerable if we are challenged.

There is a famous saying:

“Men like to solve the ‘big issues’ like the global trade and peace between countries and the like, and woman like to solve ‘smaller issues’ like making sure the family doesn’t starve and that they have clothes to wear…”

Perhaps our perception of big and small is distorted, we get very hyped up about matters that are out of our control but don’t consider too important matters that we can actually solve, and solve quickly; like being a better person, reducing anger, fear, being more generous and giving, being more forgiving, improving our relationship with Hashem and the like, things that may seem small but which make us bigger people.

Dina and I wish you a peaceful (pun intended) Shabbat!

Weekly Message 8th June 2018

You probably heard this week that the National Argentinian football team cancelled a scheduled game vs the Israeli national team that was to be played in Israel.
For Israel this game was considered an opportunity to host, and play against Lionel Messi who is a legend of the game and is considered one of the greatest to ever play football. For Argentina, this was an opportunity to pocket some 6-7 million dollars during a financially difficult period, as well as to gain a ‘spiritual blessing’ for the World Cup that begins in just a few weeks time. Apparently, the two world cups in which Argentina did well were preceded by a visit to the holy land, so they believe it provided them with good luck.
The reason for this cancellation was threats made to the Argentinian players by BDS activists and others.
This cancellation and concession to these threats has potentially created a dangerous precedent for BDS to continue intimidating others from associating with Israel.
Interestingly, the central theme of this weeks Torah portion is about the Jewish nation overtaken by a terrible fear about entering Israel for the first time and conquering the land.
The 12 spies intimidated everyone by saying; “It is a scary and complicated land… a lot of people are dying there…”
The nation was terribly frightened.
I will talk about the nature of fear on Shabbat morning in Shul.
Let us examine how much we allow unfounded fear to dictate our own behaviour, do we act out of fear of others or do we Pursue what is right for us?
Conceding to fear shouldn’t be an option.

Dina & I wish you Shabbat Shalom!

Weekly Message – Shabbat 17/18th Feb

I have already received some challenging questions for this week’s “Stump the Rabbi” session that will replace my sermon this upcoming Shabbat morning (at about 11am). I will give preference to the questions submitted in advance. If you haven’t thought of a question yet, you can still send one in before Shabbat. The earlier the better!  Remember that I’m happy to respond anonymously. We will do this session once a month.

I want to thank Michael Visontay for a fantastic talk he gave this past Sunday on the important topic of sexual abuse. There was very positive feedback. The talk was captivating and very informative. I look forward to the music evening that Michael is helping to arrange in a week from Sunday. (26th Feb)
We have just purchased 10 transliterated Siddurim (prayer books).  This Siddur enables you to follow along and read the prayers even if you are not able to read Hebrew. It will maker it easier for everyone to join in the Friday night songs or the different paragraphs of the prayers. Subject to demand, we will buy more.
This is one step in a series of initiatives to make everyone feel comfortable in the Synagogue regardless of their fluency or familiarity with the service.
I thank Rod and Caroline Hyman for this initiative and for donating these Siddurim!
Dina and I wish you a restful Shabbos.

Weekly Message 26th January 2017

After an enjoyable and revitalising trip to Israel, we are glad to be back with this beautiful community and this great country. Australia is a phenomenal place, and the benefits we have here enable us to live a life of calm, coupled with a beautiful landscape.

In that vein, Dina and I wish you Happy Australia Day!

Our son Yitzchak will be celebrating his 6th birthday this weekend. We will be celebrating on Saturday at Shul with a guitar cake (I wonder where he got that idea from:).

Happy birthday Yitzchak!

Sunday funday:

The Sunday Funday program for this term begins on Sunday the 5th of February. Registration is available on the Shul website. Please contact me for more details.

I want to bring to your attention to some events coming up over the next two weeks:

1) The Friday night social evening with a musical service is coming up next week (3rd). Go ahead and register (on Shul website) for an unforgettable evening.

2) Rabbi Shmuel and Rivkah Cohen who served as Rabbi and Rebbetzin of the Shul for 20 years will be visiting from Israel and we will enjoy a Shabbat lunch with them on the 11th of Feb. Registration on Shul website.

3)  I am starting a weekly class every Thursday at 8pm, commencing on February 9th. The class will also be broadcast on Facebook live so you can watch it in the convenience of your own home!

Every week we will explore something new that touches on real life dilemmas such as, The power of positive thinking, Nature vs nurture and other fascinating topics. Please contact me for more details!
Dina and I wish you Shabbat Shalom!