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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  ( has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


B”H, this year’s Mishloach Manot fundraiser was our best ever. 105 people participated raising $25,000!!! I truly can’t thank everyone enough. In addition, our Purim party was a great success. The tables were beautiful, the food was incredible, the band was fabulous and the drinks made by Partick were awesome. Plus, everyone had a lot of fun with the photo booth. 

Earlier this week, I received a request from Havneh Feder-Haugabook. For those of you who don’t know who he is, Havneh grew up in our shul and made aliyah on his own after finishing high school around ten years ago. He served with distinction in the IDF’s Givati Brigade as a lone soldier, and subsequently continued his education in Israel and made a life for himself there. Recently, after concluding four months of fighting with his reserve unit in Gaza, he was discharged for a while but is now back in the army for at least the next month and a half. His reserve unit is short on optical gear. Therefore, Havneh took it upon himself to raise the funds to procure the equipment. His goal is $6435. To date, he’s raised $5223 and would greatly appreciate any support we can give him. If you’d like, you can PayPal him the funds directly at or you can make a donation to the shul.    

In this week’s parasha, the Torah tells us that the fire on the mizbeach (altar) must constantly be maintained. There is a positive commandment to maintain the fire and a negative commandment that prohibits extinguishing it. The fire was fueled with wood and as such, the burning wood was what produced the flames.

The Malbim (R. Meir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel 1809-1879) notes that the Hebrew word used to describe the obligation to maintain the fire is תוקד as opposed to תוקד .להבעיר means to remain burning where as להבעיר means to light a fire. Usually when a fire is lit, there are flames that constantly go out and are replaced by new ones as the fuel source burns. The positive mitzvah is to replenish the fuel and the negative mitzvah is not to extinguish the fuel source, not the flames themselves.

Rav Aharon Levine hy”d (1879-1941), in his HaDerash VeHaIyun suggests that the positive and negative commandments are an allusion to something else. Our homes should be like the mizbeach. When we are at home, we must light the “altar” and make sure that there is a constant fire burning - the fire of Torah. If that fire burns in our homes, then even when we leave the home and encounter the challenges of the outside world, then it shall not be extinguished, the flame will continue to burn, and it will be difficult to snuff out. However, if people don’t feed the home-based altar with the fire Torah, then tragically, the altar is extinguished and the house goes dark. While fuel prices currently may be high, the fuel for the altar in our homes is free. Tons of Torah is accessible at the tip of your fingertips – take advantage of it.