Rabbi Dalia Samansky
(She, her, hers)
Office: (212) 877-4050, ext. 246
Rabbi Dalia Samansky came to Stephen Wise from Temple Ahavat Shalom in Northridge, California, where she ran the religious school and youth programming for four years, and Los Angeles’ Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, where she was a member of the faculty for 13 years. She was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2009.
Focusing on the Blessings
When Rabbi Dalia Samansky’s uncle died, her grandmother said, “God has been good to me. He gave me an extra 40 years with Marty.” “I was in awe of her ability to recognize and articulate her gratitude amidst her grief,” she says. “‘When you open yourself up to experience gratitude, you discover with clarity and accuracy how much good there is in your life…’”
The Danger of Silence
As we prepare for the High Holy Days, Rabbi Dalia Samansky recalls powerful moments in our history when silence and inaction had grave consequences. “Sometimes, our greatest failings are not in the actions we take, but those we fail to take, she says. “Judaism is a religion of action. Let us heed the sacred call and take action to create the change we want to see in the world.”
If A Tree Falls…
“If a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound?” asks Rabbi Dalia Samansky. As we approach the High Holy Days, “we are held to account for all of our actions, seen or hidden.” During the month of Elul, we reflect and introspect — to make amends and become better versions of ourselves. Follow our Elul Values Exploration to engage in this practice: swfs.org/elul.
Actions Speak Louder…
“What do you consider to be a ‘good’ Jew or a ‘bad’ Jew?” asks Rabbi Dalia Samansky. “To be a ‘good’ Jew, we must live our Judaism in our actions, not just our thoughts. As we approach the month of Elul — the traditional time for introspection and reflection — let us work to make our actions reflect the prayers of our hearts.”
Remembering the Good and the Bad
As the Israelites near the Promised Land, Moses recalls their journey — including their many failures. Amazingly, Moses and the Israelite People take responsibility for their actions, recognizing that mistakes were made and growth was experienced. “Having the ability to take responsibility and grow from our actions is a sign of emotional intelligence,” says Rabbi Dalia Samansky.
Arguing for the Sake of Heaven
Arguments “l’shem shemayim” — for the sake of heaven — are a battle for truth, not victory. In this week’s parashah, Korach was punished by God not for challenging Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership, but for trying to tear them down rather than improve the situation, says Rabbi Dalia Samansky.
The Power of Positive Perception
Rabbi Dalia Samansky reminds us that our mindset can have tremendous influence on our experiences. In this week’s parashah, the Israelites succumb to their fear of failure over their faith after 10 of their 12 spies report that taking the Promised Land would be a lost cause. “How different might our story have been, if only we hadn’t had such a negative outlook…”
Blaming Others For Our Own Faults
“Too often the faults we see in others are simply a reflection of faults we are trying to hide in ourselves,” says Rabbi Dalia Samansky as she describes an antiquated practice found in this week’s parashah. “How have we projected our biggest fears about our own lives onto those that we love? And how do we recognize and then alter our behavior?”
Counting and Being Accountable
We may ask ourselves why B’midbar, the Book of Numbers, begins and ends with a census of the wandering Israelites in the desert. “What importance is a simple list of tribes and numbers?” asks Rabbi Dalia Samansky. “When a census is taken we are reminded that yes, each and every one of us counts. But the commentaries go further with this and talk about our responsibility to be accountable, not just counted,” she says.
Rushing Through Life
Rabbi Dalia Samansky confesses “I hate matzah.” She does, however, appreciate the symbolism of the bread of affliction: “The whole process of making matzah must be completed in under 18 minutes — its hastiness results in its tastelessness.” But we should be careful not to rush through life, she says, lest each moment be as tasteless as matzah.