Sermons

Intertextuality and Our Lives
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jul 25th 2020
Dvar Torah  ~ Devarim ~ 4 Av 5780 / 25 July 2020Intertextuality is a term that describes how one part of the Bible interprets, explains and responds to another part of the Scriptures. While the Rabbis of Talmud read the Bible as if it were one text, we are better served to read the Bible as a compilation of books and spiritual perspectives that collectively become a divine symphony (Knohl)....
Cracked Letters, Cracked Lives
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jul 11th 2020
Pinẖas ~ 19 Tammuz 5780 / 11 July 2020Usually Torah lettering must be perfect.  Here, in the word shalom, a letter (vav) is cracked.The context is a plague caused by a flagrant violation of the norms of public worship, an association of sexual activity and idolatry. Pinẖas stops the plague and, acting as a vigilante, executes the guilty Israelite man and Midianite woman.I see that...
How to Be a Good Leader ~ Korah ~ 5 Tammuz 5780 / 27 June 2020
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Jun 27th 2020
An old man met a young man who asked: “Do you remember me?” The older man said no.  The young man told the older man that he had been his student. The teacher asked: “How do you spend your days?” The young man answered: “Well, I became a teacher. In fact, I became a teacher because you inspired me to be like you.” The older man, curious, asked the young man...
Light, Creativity and Kindness ~ Beha'alotkha ~ 21 Sivan 5780 / 13 June 2020
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Jun 13th 2020
In a mishnah in Pirkei Avot, Ben Bag Bag states "Hafoh ba hafoh ba, de'kula ba - Turn it and turn it, for everything is in it."  The words of the Torah may remain the same, but we are different each time we return to them. We can always reinterpret the ancient words anew.  Parashat Beha'alotkha calls our attention to many themes and ideas from the period of the Israelites...
Lifnei and Aharei / Before and After ~ Shavuot ~ 7 Sivan 5780 / 30 May 2020
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
May 30th 2020
Since February, a determined and mighty group from the Beth Tzedec community has been studying a page of Tanakh every day. It is a small 929 day project. Currently we are in the middle of Sefer Vayikra, the Book of Leviticus. Earlier this week, we studied the first chapter of parshat Aharei Mot, chapter 16, which is intimately connected to Yom Kippur, as it describes the High Priest’s...
Joseph and Egypt, Jews and Society ~ Vayigash ~ 7 Tevet 5780 / 4 January 2020
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Jan 4th 2020
Although most of us focus attention on the plea of Yehudah and the reunion of the family of Yaakov, the conclusion of the weekly reading directs us to consider the relationship of Yosef’s extended family with the resident population of Egypt. Notice that Yosef “acquired all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh,” excluding only the lands of the Egyptian priests. Egypt was transformed into an...
Standing Proudly in the Centre ~ Vayishlah ~ 16 Kislev 5780 / 14 December 2020
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Dec 14th 2019
From Friday through Tuesday, I was in Boston, though I could have been in any large hotel anywhere in the world. I was there as a delegate at the 20/20 Judaism conference, a collaboration between the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and the Rabbinical Assembly. My participation served two purposes. I was there to learn and bring back to Beth Tzedec skills and best practices,...
Thinking about Sarah ~ Hayyei Sarah ~ 25 Heshvan 5780 / 23 November 2019
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Nov 28th 2019
In this week’s parashah, we read at the beginning of chapter 24, “Abraham was old, advanced in years, and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.” Commentators go in all directions with this verse. Rashi looked to gematria and said that the word had the same numerical value as “ben”, so he understood this verse to mean that God blessed Abraham with a little boy or a son....
Waving Through a Window ~ Noah ~ 4 Heshvan 5780 / 2 November 2019
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Nov 2nd 2019
If we were only to read the Torah, without any commentary or midrash, we would not know much about what went on in Noah’s Ark, save a basic architectural blueprint. It was about 155 meters, or one-and-a-half Canadian football fields long. What did the people do all day long? What did they think about? What did the people do all night long? How could they sleep in a zoo? What did they...
Fractals of Holiness ~ Beresheet ~ 27 Tishrei 5780 / 26 October 2019
By: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl
Oct 26th 2019
This has been another great week at Beth Tzedec. Yom Tov with a musically superb Hallel and our special Hattan and Kallah for Simhat Torah. Shemini Atzeret Yizkor with Cantor Ezer’s special touch and Rabbi Fryer Bodzin’s poignant and powerful sermon: from now on, each of us will think of chairs in a different way. And a spectacular cantorial concert on Thursday evening. We are also...
Chairs ~ Shemini Atzeret ~ 22 Tishrei 5780 / 21 October 2019
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Oct 21st 2019
My husband proposed to me on April Fools’ Day, on April 1st. Emet. True story.  I said yes. And then immediately, I called my Bubby Ethel.  As she was the only living grandparent between the two of us, and she lived here in Toronto, we decided to get married in Toronto.  And then she died, two months before the wedding.  This was 12...
My Trip ~ Yom Kippur ~ 10 Tishrei 5780 / 9 October 2019
By: Rabbi Steve Wernick
Oct 9th 2019
Mourning in our tradition is both private and public.  When we visit the graves of our loved ones, as many of us did this past Sunday for Kever Avot, we generally do so privately.  And of course, each of us come here today, with the personal memories of family and friends whose lives have impacted ours.  Yet Yizkor is the public observance for the community of...
What We Stand For ~ Yom Kippur ~ 10 Tishrei 5780 / 9 October 2019
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Oct 9th 2019
Soon after returning home to Toronto this summer, people told me that I needed to get a Mirvish subscription. While I appreciated the tip, I have seen most of what is coming to town this year in New York on Broadway.  Before I had a child, and the cost of babysitting was added to the cost of the evening, I saw a lot of fabulous and not-so-fabulous theatre. With the exception of the...
Let Us Vow ~ Kol Nidre ~ 9 Tishri 5780 / 8 October 2019
By: Rabbi Steve Wernick
Oct 8th 2019
Jody and I were married in 1992. We honeymooned in Europe on our way to Israel for a year, and spent Rosh Hashanah at the Great Synagogue in Florence. One of my most vivid memories, though, is not the grandeur of the synagogue, nor the unique nusah,dating back to the Spanish Expulsion of 1492. Rather, what I remember most clearly is the security. There were police guards with Uzi machine...
It’s About the Journey, not the Destination ~ Kol Nidre ~ 9 Tishri 5780 / 8 October 2019
By: Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin
Oct 8th 2019
The year 5779 has just ended, but it will be remembered for many moments and events in our personal and collective journeys.  One day, April 11, 2019, stands out as a guidepost for me.  It started out as a regular day. I took my daughter Ariella to school. I went in to my former shul to do some work. Then I got in my car to drive off to two events, both of them off the Long...