All rights reserved © 2017​ Susan Shamash  l  Vancouver, BC

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October 26, 2019

A couple of years ago, for the High HolyDays, Or Shalom Synagogue’s Rabbi Hannah Dresner decided that her overall theme would be humility.  So she distributed these little wooden coins which she enjoined us to keep in our virtual pockets.  I still have mine.  

The story is that Rabbi Simcha Bunim of P’shiskha taught that everyone should have two pockets, each containing a slip of paper....

November 24, 2018

Bereishit/Genesis 35:16-21:  "They set out from Bethel; but when they were still some distance short of Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor.  When her labor was at its hardest, the midwife said to her, ‘Have no fear, for it is another boy for you.’  But as she breathed her last — for she was dying — she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin.  Thus Rachel died....

December 18, 2017

(Prepared for T'ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights)

My sister is developmentally disabled.  Although she is very high functioning, she still needs a lot of support, including financially.  She is able to live independently and, until two years ago, was fully employed.  She is approaching 60 and, as she ages, her increasing physical issues affect her functioning.  She was laid off from her job...

January 13, 2017

(Prepared for a teaching before Shabbat candle lighting January 13, 2017) 

Divine sovereignty and human agency.  From revelation to interpretation.  What happens when the rebbe dies?  A teaching inspired by Dr. Micah Goodman, a Shalom Hartman Institute scholar.

There is a classic talmudic text that implies that, after the death of our teacher Moses, the role of prophets and the a...

December 26, 2015

I need to begin with a warning/disclaimer:  this dvar Torah contains violent scenes that may be disturbing to some listeners.  This is not one of those feel-good talks.  

Not only is Vayechi the last portion of Bereishit, of Genesis, it is one of the last portions of the secular year, read at a time of great darkness.  

A brief recap:  Jacob lived the final 17 years of his life in Egypt. B...

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