December 21, 2002 Vayigash

S.T.A.R. News & Events

Here are S.T.A.R.’s upcoming exciting events:

January 11-13, 2013

Teens will have 3 Days of unparalleled Fun and Sports at Big Bear Mountain

This Shabbat

Shabbat Parashat: Vayigash

Candle Lighting: 4:31pm
Shabbat Ends: 5:35pm

Torah Message

G-d’s Witnesses

"And Yehuda approached him." (44:18)

A tramp standing by a traffic light. Suddenly, a big Rolls Royce limousine about half a block long pulls up right next to him. The tramp stands immobile and somewhat alarmed. One of the tinted windows in the back of the limo rolls down with an expensive electronic purr. From inside the car emerges a hand wearing a white cotton glove. The hand is waving a crisp $20 bill. Silently the gloved hand beckons to the tramp with the money. Like a silent Charlie Chaplin comedy, the tramp does a double take, looks behind him, convinced that the hand must be beckoning to someone standing behind him. Then he realizes the $20 bill is for him. The tramp cannot believe his luck. He beams from ear to ear, and back again, walks up to the hand, and takes the money. Just as quietly and mysteriously as it arrived, the Rolls Royce glides away from the sidewalk and is soon lost in the traffic. The tramp stands there gazing after it for a long time.

The next day, the Rolls-Royce again draws up next to him. This time, the tramp is somewhat less surprised but no less grateful. Overjoyed, he again takes the money.

The next day the same thing happens, and the next and the next and the next…

This goes on for a month.

One day, the Rolls Royce draws up at the lights but the window doesn’t go down. After a few seconds the tramp knocks on the glass, but it doesn’t go down. So he knocks harder and then starts to shout, "Where’s my twenty dollars! Where’s my twenty dollars!"

Gratitude is proportionate to the extent that we understand that we received something that wasn’t our due. If we think that something is due to us, why should we be grateful?

"And Yehuda approached him."

The name Jew comes from the name Yehuda. We are Yehudim or Jews. We are not called Jews by coincidence. In Hebrew, a name defines the very essence of a thing. If the name Yehuda means to thank, that must be the essence of being Jewish – that’s our name. We are the ‘thankers.’ The Hebrew for "to thank" is l’hodot. However, there is another meaning to the word l’hodot. It can also mean "to admit." What’s the connection between giving thanks and admitting?

To the extent that we admit we received something and we really didn’t deserve it, to that same extent will be our gratitude and to that degree we will give thanks.

"And Yehuda approached him."

We are Jews because we thank G-d for everything we have, however big or small. A Jew admits that everything comes from G-d. That is how Yehuda – the Jewish People – are able to approach, to come close to G-d.

"And Yehuda approached Him."

The job of the Jewish people in this world is to be quite literally ‘G-d’s witnesses’. (Not to be confused with Brand X who would also like to claim this job as their own). The job of the Jewish People is to testify by the way we live our lives that there is a G-d in the world. As it is written: "You are My witnesses."

So if our job is to be the Witnesses, why are we called the Thankers, or the Admitters?

The foundation of all belief in G-d is to admit that life is one gigantic gift. If a person doesn’t feel that he was given anything, he will never look for G-d, he will never look further than his own nose.

If I sensitize myself to the gift I will sensitize myself to the Giver.

Atheism is not the root of ingratitude. Ingratitude is the root of atheism.


Rabbi M. Weiss                                                  Rabbi Y. Sakhai

Community News

Em Habanim Congregation

Weekly Parashat Hashavua class with Rabbi Joshua Bittan on Wednesdays at 8:30pm for more info. visit

Avot Ubanim Program has started for fathers and their kids of ages 4 and up every Saturday night from 7:30pm – 8:30pm, Lots of prizes and great Pizza every week!


Em Habanim Sephardic Congregation is pleased to make available its elegant venue for your celebration. Excellent location with easy access to freeways. For more info. visit 


Get Well Soon

Ariel Menachem Chayim ben Miryam & Daniel ben Sara

We wish a speedy recovery for all the Jews that may need it where ever they may be and especially for:

Em Habanim:

Max Barchichat From Sephardic Temple: Al Azus,Buena Angel,
Elaine Leon,Itzchak Rachmanony

From S.T.A.R.:

Mordechai Chaim Ben Chana, Chaim Ben Buena,
Meshulam Dov Ben Chana Sarah

 Bracha Sara Chaya Bat Ronit,
Donna Devora bat Sara 

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