A Message from the Chief Rabbi

At the dawn of the Common Era, the Roman philosopher Seneca said ‘…there is never a time when new distraction will not show…’. This is a sentiment which rings more true than ever today, two thousand years later.

So much of our lives are lived in a perpetual state of distraction, moving from work to leisure and back again without pause for considered thought or reflection. A busy life is surely fulfilling, but only when paired with time for introspection. Shabbat is that time.

The ‘Lecha Dodi’ prayer, sung in Shul during the Kabbalat Shabbat service to welcome the Shabbat bride, is significantly different from our other Shabbat prayers. Whilst Shabbat is universally referred to as a day of rest, the message of Lecha Dodi is quite the opposite: ‘Wake up, wake up, for your light has come; rise, shine!’ The contrasting messages of rest and awakening can perhaps be understood as speaking to our material and spiritual sides respectively.

The essence of a restful Shabbat is that separation from mundane work and empty distraction is necessary to reinvigorate one’s soul; to find space for meaningful engagement with our friends and families in a noisy world of media and communications which constantly demand our attention.

The distractions we are all but obsessed with during the week are not true rest from the stresses of working life. Too often we look to rest our bodies without also looking to wake up to the truly important elements of our lives. Shabbat stands at the end of each week to remove both work and distraction: to remind us why we toil and to give us the strength to continue.

Shabbat is truly for sharing and that is precisely what ShabbatUK is all about. On a day of rest, it can be all too easy to recuperate alone, but true meaning is found in our engagement with loved ones. Use ShabbatUK to reinvest in the most important people in your life, and share what’s important with them lest you find yourself distracted by distraction.

Already looking forward to ShabbatUK 2017.

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Shabbat in London begins today at 20:03 and ends tomorrow at 21:07. The Parasha is Re'eh. Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!

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Who is Hashem addressing in this week's Parasha? The individual, or the whole Jewish nation?

Watch the Chief Rabbi's D'var Torah for this week.
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Why should we be like the sand of the sea? TRANSCRIPT: Is the Torah speaking directly to me? This week’s Parasha commences with the words “Re’eh Anochi Noten Lifneichem Hayom Bracha U’klalah”, “See, (written in the singular) I am giving you (written in the plural), today a blessing and a curse”. So, who is Hashem speaking to? Is he speaking to me, to each single, individual Jewish person or is he speaking to the whole nation? Actually, the answer is both. And we have the very same phenomenon at the beginning of next week’s Parasha of Shoftim: “Shoftim Veshotrim Titen Lecha Bechol She’arecha”, “Judges and bailiffs, you shall place for you, (written in the singular), in all of your (written in the plural) gates…”. Actually, what we find here is a theme that runs right through the Book of Devarim. We all live with dual responsibility – I live by myself for myself and at the same time, I am an important cog within the wheel of Am Yisrael. When Hashem delivers his commandments, they are addressed to me personally, for my life, for the enhancement of my existence, and at the same time, what I do has a direct impact on the fate of the nation as a whole. And we find this in Sefer Devarim, so beautifully put, through the two paragraphs of the Shema. They contain a lot of the same material. The Mitzvot, ‘To Love Hashem’, ‘To Study the Torah’, ‘Tefillin’ and ‘Mezuzah’, however there is a major difference: The first paragraph of the Shema is in the singular, addressed to the individual Jew, while the second paragraph of the Shema is in the plural, addressed to us all. So, therefore I have that dual responsibility. For example, when it comes to Talmud Torah, I must learn and I must teach, but I also have a communal responsibility – I must guarantee that there are schools in my district, I must support all teaching initiatives for the sake of the nation. And so to, when it comes to ‘Tefillin’ and to ‘Mezuzah’. I’ve come across some wonderful Gemachs, great charities who are there to provide Mezuzahs for people’s homes. Mezuzot cost a lot of money – they’re not cheap. And so, there are some wonderfully generous people who contribute towards Mezuzot for everybody’s homes, recognising that we have a responsibility for ourselves but also for all of the homes in our area. And this very message is presented to us so beautifully by the Prophet Hoshea, who declared: “Vehaya Mispar Bnei Yisrael K’Chol Hayam”, “And the number of the Children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea”. Of course, Hoshea was speaking about the remarkable fact that over the years, through the generations, against the odds, we will have great numbers. But why didn’t he just talk about ‘Chol’, ‘sand’ - why ‘K’Chol Hayam’, ‘the sand of the sea’? And the reason I believe is, because ‘the sand of the sea’ is tightly packed together when it’s wet, but at the same time, it’s made up of single grains of sand. And so too, we, each one of us, is responsible to ourselves, and at the same time, we must never forget our connection to our people and the responsibility that we have towards our society. Shabbat Shalom

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Great to see that Borehamwood Shul is due to host an #autism-friendly #Shabbat just before Rosh Hashana: ow.ly/uEHK30ekAtX ... See MoreSee Less

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Why is it a mitzvah to recite a blessing after, rather than before eating food?

@ChiefRabbiMirvis delves into this question in his weekly D'Var Torah.
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“There is no mitzvah in the Torah to recite a blessing before eating food”. TRANSCRIPT: There is no Mitzvah in the Torah to recite a blessing before eating food. In this week’s Parasha of Eikev, we learn that the Mitzvah of the Torah is to say the blessing after eating food - ‘Veachaltah Vesavata Uveirachta Et Hashem Elokecha’, ‘And you shall eat, and you will be satisfied, and then you will bless’. From there we learn about the Mitzvah of Bentsching (Grace after meals). The Gemarah in Mesechet Berachot (21a) tells us, that our Rabbis deduce from here a ‘Kal Vechomer’ - if we have to bless after we eat, ‘how much more so’ should we bless before we eat? And then our Rabbis contrast this to the study of the Torah. You see, there is a Mitzvah in the Torah to make a blessing before we study it. There the Gemarah says, ‘if we recite a Bracha before we study Torah, then Kal Vechomer, how much more so, should we offer a blessing at the conclusion of the study of the Torah. What sense can we make of this? I’d like to explain as follows… When it comes to physical delights in this world, when we are starved of something - we really look forward to it with a sense of passion and anticipation. So, for example, if we’re hungry and we’re looking forward to a meal, nobody needs to tell us that we are appreciative of what Hashem has been doing for us. It’s after the meal, however, that we need the Mitzvah, we need to Bentcsh, especially, if perhaps, the journey has been better than the destination and the meal has not been that brilliant. And seeing as we have that Mitzvah to bless God afterwards, how much more so should we bless God beforehand, when we appreciate what we’re just about to have. With regard to the study of Torah, it’s just the opposite. You see, after I learn, that’s when I appreciate it. That’s when I’ve had an exhilarating Shuir, an incredibly fulfilling Chavruta or a wonderful experience when I’ve opened a Sefer and I’ve learnt by myself. But before I learn, to try and get to that point, sometimes I need to be stimulated, sometimes I need to be inspired to do it - it’s not easy. So, therefore, if I have a Mitzvah to bless God before I learn, Kal Vechomer, how much more so, at the conclusion of the study? That’s why there is a Mitzvah to inspire and to get us going, but afterwards, it’s natural to feel satisfied and to be grateful to Hashem. So therefore, we find that when it comes to spiritual delights in this world, they by far transcend physical delights. This very notion is encapsulated in yet another important verse in this week’s Parasha: ‘Ki Lo Al Halechem Levado Yichye Ha’adam Ki Al Kol Motzah Phi Hashem Yichye Ha’adam’, ‘People don’t live by bread alone, rather we attain meaningful living through following and through studying the word of Hashem’. Shabbat Shalom

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Shabbat UK shared Chief Rabbi Mirvis's The Chief Rabbi's D'var Torah for Parashat Eikev. ... See MoreSee Less

“There is no mitzvah in the Torah to recite a blessing before eating food”. TRANSCRIPT: There is no Mitzvah in the Torah to recite a blessing before eating food. In this week’s Parasha of Eikev, we learn that the Mitzvah of the Torah is to say the blessing after eating food - ‘Veachaltah Vesavata Uveirachta Et Hashem Elokecha’, ‘And you shall eat, and you will be satisfied, and then you will bless’. From there we learn about the Mitzvah of Bentsching (Grace after meals). The Gemarah in Mesechet Berachot (21a) tells us, that our Rabbis deduce from here a ‘Kal Vechomer’ - if we have to bless after we eat, ‘how much more so’ should we bless before we eat? And then our Rabbis contrast this to the study of the Torah. You see, there is a Mitzvah in the Torah to make a blessing before we study it. There the Gemarah says, ‘if we recite a Bracha before we study Torah, then Kal Vechomer, how much more so, should we offer a blessing at the conclusion of the study of the Torah. What sense can we make of this? I’d like to explain as follows… When it comes to physical delights in this world, when we are starved of something - we really look forward to it with a sense of passion and anticipation. So, for example, if we’re hungry and we’re looking forward to a meal, nobody needs to tell us that we are appreciative of what Hashem has been doing for us. It’s after the meal, however, that we need the Mitzvah, we need to Bentcsh, especially, if perhaps, the journey has been better than the destination and the meal has not been that brilliant. And seeing as we have that Mitzvah to bless God afterwards, how much more so should we bless God beforehand, when we appreciate what we’re just about to have. With regard to the study of Torah, it’s just the opposite. You see, after I learn, that’s when I appreciate it. That’s when I’ve had an exhilarating Shuir, an incredibly fulfilling Chavruta or a wonderful experience when I’ve opened a Sefer and I’ve learnt by myself. But before I learn, to try and get to that point, sometimes I need to be stimulated, sometimes I need to be inspired to do it - it’s not easy. So, therefore, if I have a Mitzvah to bless God before I learn, Kal Vechomer, how much more so, at the conclusion of the study? That’s why there is a Mitzvah to inspire and to get us going, but afterwards, it’s natural to feel satisfied and to be grateful to Hashem. So therefore, we find that when it comes to spiritual delights in this world, they by far transcend physical delights. This very notion is encapsulated in yet another important verse in this week’s Parasha: ‘Ki Lo Al Halechem Levado Yichye Ha’adam Ki Al Kol Motzah Phi Hashem Yichye Ha’adam’, ‘People don’t live by bread alone, rather we attain meaningful living through following and through studying the word of Hashem’. Shabbat Shalom

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Starting to plan for your Challah Makes?

Email [email protected] to register your Challah Make and get your resource pack for #challahmakes17

#ShabbatUK is coming! 27/28 Oct. what will you do this year?

Shabbat Shalom from your ShabbatUK team x
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Word of warning to all aspiring Challah Makers: don't transport large quantities of dough if you think it might rise enough to obstruct traffic.
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Tomorrow night, as we sit around our Shabbat tables celebrating our faith, enjoying good food and the company of our friends and family, let us remember the tragedy that befell an innocent family just a week ago as they sat around their own Shabbat table in Halamish.

Some may choose to say a few words about Yosef, Chaya and Elad Salomon, while others might like to light an additional candle or lay extra places to remember them.

May their memories be for a blessing.

The Shabbos Project Israel in the UK UJIA Chief Rabbi Mirvis
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We're Hiring: Would you like to work for the Office of the Chief Rabbi? For further information and details of how to apply, click here: chiefrabbi.org/job-vacancies-2/ Closing date: Monday 14th August 2017

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It's one of the most surprising laws of Tisha B'Av...

Why aren't we allowed to study Torah?
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A most surprising halacha for Tisha B’Av! It is forbidden to study Torah. This is one of the surprising Halachot of the fast day of Tisha B’Av, which we will be marking during the coming week. And the reason why it’s forbidden to study Torah, is because Torah gladdens the heart. That’s what we learn from the Passuk in Tehillim 19, Psalm 19, ‘Pekudei Hashem Yesharim Mesamchei Lev’, ‘the laws of the Lord are upright, they bring gladness to our hearts’. You see, when you study Torah, you have Simcha at a number of levels. First of all, the actual engagement of study, the Talmud Torah, the excitement of grappling with a Sugyah in Shas, of learning Pesukim, verses, from Chumash, either by oneself or in a Chavruta or through attending a Shuir – it brings real Simcha to one. And then, at a deeper level, we internalise the values and the information that we receive through our study, it transforms our characters and it brings us a huge amount of meaning and happiness in our lives. I went to Israel to attend the Levaya of my teacher Rav Aharon Lichtenstein, zt’l, and in one of the Hespeidim given by one of his children, they said how Tisha B’Av was the most difficult day for Rav Aharon. That was because he loved to learn and he was denied that opportunity on the fast day. And when it came to the end of Tisha B’Av, whereas everybody else just raced to the dining room table to have something to eat or to drink, Rav Aharon raced to the bookshelf and at the end of the fast, he would always take out a Gemarah and he would start to study, because he had been thirsting for that Talmud Torah, throughout the fast day. That’s what Torah really does for us. Rav Aharon’s father in-law, Rav Soloveitchik, zt’l, would commute every week from Boston to New York, but during the last few years of his life, they enabled him to stay in the Penimiah, the dormitory, of Yeshivah University. And it so happened, that one night, some of the boys threw a party and they had friends over - they were making a lot of noise. At 2am in the morning, there was a knock on the door. They opened the door and there was the Rav, in his dressing gown - and there was hushed silence. And then the Rav said, ‘what’s going on here, its 2 o’clock in the morning - do you not realise that some of us are trying to learn?’ That’s the beauty of Torah, ‘Ve’hagita Bo Yomam Va’layla’, ‘study in it, transform your lives through it, day and night’. The beauty of Torah is just so magnificent for us and as a result we have one day in the year on which it is Assur, it is forbidden, to study Torah, as a reminder of our privilege throughout every other day of the year, to have our lives enhanced and to provide us with an opportunity of genuine Simcha, of wonderful happiness, through studying of the Torah. Shabbat Shalom

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Last year the happy people of North #Manchester converged on Holy Law Shul for a proper #Havdalah shindig. Good times 🙂

#ShabbatUK
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Why is the Shabbat preceding the fast of Tisha B'Av called Shabbat Chazon?

All is explained by @theshabbosproject #ShabbatUK
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Shabbat Chazon, the Shabbat of Vision, takes its name from the reading designated for the week prior to the fast of Tisha B'Av. Each year, before this mournful day, we are shown a vision of our world where all G‑d’s creatures will experience His presence.

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Wishing a Shabbat Shalom to everyone, whether you live in a house on a hill, or not.

The ShabbatUK Team x 😉
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Check out Chief Rabbi Mirvis's D'var Torah for this week's Parasha Matot-Massei! ... See MoreSee Less

Parashat Matot-Massei: When one person's piety caused a national disaster - a lesson for the Three Weeks. You can access the full transcript here: chiefrabbi.org/all-media/dvar-torah-parashat-mattos-massei/

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We absolutely LOVE your Instagram post Ashton Kutcher! Why don't you and MilaKunis join us for The Shabbat Project, happening on 27/28 October 2017? #KeepingItTogether

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Smiles and happiness all round as we approach Shabbat! Shabbat Shalom from #ShabbatUK 🙃

PS - deadline for the ShabbatUK job opp is Monday! Info: bit.ly/2sByM9X
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The DEADLINE is looming for this wonderful job opportunity!

A fabulous team, a wealth of office experience to gain and a chance to engage with Jewish life on a national level. What is not to like... :p

More info: bit.ly/2sByM9X
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Many young people are desperately seeking respite from their phone addiction says author Donna Freitus, who spoke on BBC Radio 4's The Today Programme this morning.

What better remedy than Shabbat...listen from 2:46:00 ow.ly/3zVa30dBI2J
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Why did this prophet see an almond tree in his vision?

An intriguing question is at the centre of Parashat Pinchas, says Chief Rabbi Mirvis...
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Parashat Pinchas: The connection between almonds and the Three Weeks... You can access the full transcript here: chiefrabbi.org/all-media/dvar-torah-parashat-pinchas-2/

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Had your eye on this great #job for a while? If you think you're cut out to help deliver #ShabbatUK, apply now! ow.ly/YJgZ30dx6v0 ... See MoreSee Less

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#ShabbatUK now has its very own page on The Shabbos Project website, so head over there for a snapshot of what we're all about: ow.ly/SewU30dx0ip ... See MoreSee Less

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That's all from us folks! Shabbat Shalom and have a great weekend 😀😀😀 ... See MoreSee Less

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