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Tell It Like It Is

November 15, 2010 Leave a comment

RABBI MITCHEL WOHLBERG
SHABBAT SERMON – NOVEMBER 13, 2010

 

On Sept. 4 of this year, from this pulpit, the rabbi of Beth Tfiloh – that’s me – said the following words: “You don’t have to be a bigot or a racist to feel uncomfortable and a bit unsettled if the person sitting next to you on the airplane is reading the Quran.” On Oct 18 of this year, on TV’s O’Reilly Factor, Juan Williams, a commentator for both NPR and Fox News, said the following words: “Look, Bill, I’m not a bigot. You know the kind of books I’ve written about the civil rights movement in this country. But when I get on a plane, I’ve got to tell you, if I see people who are in Muslim garb, and I think, you know, that they are identifying themselves first and foremost as Muslims, I get worried … I get nervous.” Now you tell me: what was the difference between what I said and what Mr. Williams said? And you tell me why Mr. Williams got fired for what he said … and I didn’t! Two answers: the first, because I work for Beth Tfiloh … he works for National Public Radio. And that makes all the difference in the world. And second, because our people are meant to follow the method of Jacob, while many others in this world seem to be following the ways of Lavan. And that, in and of itself, might explain the rise of the Tea Party in America!

There are three Hebrew words in this morning’s Torah portion … four when translated into English … that have become a part of Jewish folklore, that have become a popular idiom that knowledgeable Jews have referred to down through the ages. And you’re going to be surprised when I tell you what the words are. In English they are: “Rachel, your younger daughter.” In Hebrew: “Rochail bitcha hakitanah.” I know it sounds crazy, but in the shtetls of Eastern Europe, on the streets of Israel today, there is an on-going reference to these three words. And to understand what they signify you have to know the context in which they were uttered. READ MORE

 

 

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A Different Perspective on What Jews are Doing

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