Archive for October, 2011

Noah, Steve Jobs and the Tower of Babel

October 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Today, from start to finish, I want to talk to you about Steve Jobs … from the start of today’s Torah portion until its conclusion, for both contain an important lesson regarding Steve Jobs’ life and death and an important lesson for all of us to take to heart.

Our Torah portion this morning told the story of Noah and the flood. But before the story is told, our rabbis first discuss: how did Noah get his name, and what does it mean? The Torah tells us: “Zeh yinachameinu mimaseinu u’mei-itzvon yadainu … this one will bring us rest from our work and the toil of our hands.” Noach means, rest” and “comfort.” Why did he get this name? Because, according to our tradition, Noah was the creator of the first advancement in agricultural technology. It was Noah who invented the plow … the first great farming tool that made it easier for early mankind to abandon a nomadic existence and to till the soil, easing man’s physical workload. It provided mankind opportunities for rest and leisure and the comforts of life.

Steve Jobs followed in the footsteps of Noah. His technological creations changed the way in which we live. It is said that three apples changed the course of history: Adam’s apple, Newton’s apple … and Steve Jobs’ Apple! I use his computer and his phone, and well understand from personal experience how remarkable this man’s creations are. Genius is certainly a word appropriate for him. His technological advancements open the book of knowledge to billions around the world. That’s something we Jews should applaud. At the beginning of Genesis where God tells us, “Be fruitful and multiply … fill the earth and subdue it,” my teacher, Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, says that means that it is a religious requirement to harness the forces of nature for the betterment of all mankind. READ MORE

PLUS: If you want to gain Jewish knowledge, here is a good place to start.  Although I don’t agree with many of the selections, they are all worth considering in The Huffington Post’s Jewish Books: 18 Essential Texts Every Jew Should Read

Categories: Articles, Books, Sermons Tags: , ,

Shemini Atzeret Sermon: Time Flies! For that you win a Nobel Prize?

October 27, 2011 Leave a comment

This is the year I feel cheated. The Nobel prizes have been given out … and I was not included! And I should have been! I should have won the Nobel prize in physics, this despite the fact that I never took a class in physics and, in fact, may not even know how to spell the word correctly! But I should have won it this year. The Nobel Prize in physics was won by three men … Saul Perlmutter, Brian Schmidt and Johns Hopkins’ own Adam Riess. What it took these three great minds many years to discover, I had already discovered long before them! Their award was given “for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of distant super novae.” It had been thought that the expansion of the universe was slowing down, but in fact, the Nobel Prize winners discovered quite the opposite … that the expansion is accelerating and “if the expansion will continue to speed up, the universe will end in ice.” For this you win a Nobel Prize? For discovering that things are going faster and faster? I’ve known that for nearly seven years now, ever since the day I turned 60. READ MORE

Have you seen the pictures of Ivanka Trump walking to shul with her husband, holding what the media has reported as flowers instead of what it really is…a lulav? Read Ivanka Trump Goes to Shul on Sukkot and the Media Doesn’t Get It to get the full story.

Categories: Uncategorized

Gilad Shalit and “Let’s Make a Deal”

October 24, 2011 Leave a comment

One of Israel’s most popular songs, written by its most popular songwriter, Naomi Shemer, is entitled, “Al kol ele – for all these things.” It begins with the words: “Al ha-devash v’al ha-okets al hamar vehamatok al biteinu ha-tinoket shmor eli ha-tov – For all these things, over the honey and the stinger, over the bitter and the sweet, over our daughter, our baby, my God watch over what is good.” The song most poignantly describes the reality of life. There is honey and a stinger, there is bitter and there is sweet … and all we can ask of God is that He watches over what is good.

Those words go to the heart of our feelings as Jews this weekend when Gilad Shalit has finally come home. There is a feeling of “the honey and the stinger,” “the bitter and the sweet.” READ MORE

And if you’re wondering what lesson the Palestinians took away from this exchange, read Would-be bomber tells Gaza kids to be like her, about a female terrorist who was released in the Shalit swap who now encourages Gaza children to take up terror and expresses hope that some of them will become martyrs.

Sukkot Sermon: Is Fun Kosher?

October 17, 2011 Leave a comment

For this morning, just a little unorthodox thought from an Orthodox rabbi.

First the question: what do you think is more important – fasting on Yom Kippur or being happy of Sukkot?  The question sounds ridiculous; after all, if someone came over to you at 12 o’clock on Yom Kippur and said, “Why don’t you eat something?” you would never dream of listening to them.  But if someone came over to you on Sukkot and said, “Why aren’t you happy?” you would feel comfortable in replying, “It’s none of your business!”  Fasting on Yom Kippur, or being happy on Sukkot? … doesn’t seem to be much of a question.  But I read something written by a Gil Locks that really provides food for thought.  The fact of the matter is, nowhere in the Torah are we told that you must fast on Yom Kippur.  It doesn’t say that in the Torah!  All it says in the Torah is: “V’inisem et nafshoteichem – and you shall afflict your souls.”  It doesn’t say “don’t eat!”  It just says “afflict your souls.”  Who says that “afflict” means “to fast?”  The rabbis do!  It is the rabbis who tell us that one means of affliction is to refrain from food for the whole day.  READ MORE

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Kol Nidrei & Yom Kippur Sermons

October 10, 2011 Leave a comment


In January I will be one of the honorees at a dinner for State of Israel Bonds in Boca Raton, FL. I guess they felt that more of our congregants will be there in Boca than here in January. With that event in mind, tonight I am going to ask you to do what you have done for many years now: I am going to ask you to make me look good!

By now I’m sure you know how much Israel means to me. After my family and this congregation, Israel is the love of my life. Every year I visit Israel, every day I read about it, I support it, I breathe it … I totally love it! And so, I can’t help but ask myself: how did Israel get itself into the situation that it finds itself in? READ MORE


So, a beggar walks up to a well-dressed woman who was leaving a restaurant on Rodeo Drive and says, “I haven’t eaten anything in three days.” She looks at him and says, “God, I wish I had your self-control!”

This day of Yom Kippur is a day dedicated to self-control as we deny ourselves all food and all physical and material pleasures. This day is always important, but perhaps more important this year for given the financial situation in our country and in our homes, most all of us are being forced to exhibit a bit more self-control than ever before. We are living through tough times. People have lost fortunes. More and more people are living from paycheck to paycheck; grown-up children are moving back home because they can’t make it yet on their own; retirement funds are being dipped into to help make ends meet; and those who thought they could retire are being forced back to work, just at a time when it is hard to find a job. Our country used to export goods but now it seems as if we are exporting jobs! My brother, Saul, turned 70 and last year he had quadruple bypass surgery. He lives alone, so he decided to get one of those electronic monitors … you know, you push the button if you have an emergency, and they immediately call you and send help. He called two companies; the second one that he called was much more expensive. My brother asked why and he was told that the other – when you press the button – they call you … from India … but we call you from the Bronx! READ MORE

On the fast track to Yom Kippur

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment
  • “Expiation, corrective, a reflection of mood, or sensitization to the plight of the needy? Only one of these reasons has biblical support.” Find out which one in Four Approaches to Fasting
  • “A late-night mistake, a ruptured college friendship, and a Yom Kippur apology. Atonement can make things better, if not quite fix them…” reflects Joanna Hershon in Take It Back on
  • Earthquakes on the East Coast…a collapsing economy…even the passing of visionaries like Steve Jobs…on the eve of Yom Kippur, this chillingly powerful video reminds us that only One knows “Who shall live?”
Categories: Articles

Failure…the key to success

October 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Some things to start thinking about with Yom Kippur right around the corner:

…In his article, Yom Kippur: The Blessing of Failure on, Rabbi Benjamin Blech asks, what if the real secret to success is failure?

…You might have seen this one on Facebook (click on the image to see full-size):


…And on the lighter side…

Yom Kippur Recall Notice

Regardless of make or year, all units known as “human beings” are being recalled by the Manufacturer. This is due to a malfunction in the original prototype units code named “Adam” and “Eve” resulting in the reproduction of the same defect in all subsequent units. This defect is technically termed, “Serious Internal Non-morality,” but more commonly known as “SIN.”

Some of the symptoms of the SIN defect:

[a] Loss of direction
[b] Lack of peace and joy
[c] Depression
[d] Foul vocal emissions
[e] Selfishness
[f]  Ingratitude
[g] Fearfulness
[h] Rebellion
[i] Jealousy

The Manufacturer is providing factory authorized repair service free of charge to correct the SIN defect. The Repair Technician, Hashem, has most generously offered to bear the entire burden of the staggering cost of these repairs. To repeat, there is no fee required.

The number to call in for repair in all areas is: PRAYER. Once connected, please upload the burden of SIN through the REPENTANCE procedure. Next, download ATONEMENT from the Repair Technician, HASHEM, into the heart component of the human unit.

No matter how big or small the SIN defect is, Hashem will replace it with:

[a] Love
[b] Joy
[c] Peace
[d] Kindness
[e] Goodness
[f] Faithfulness
[g] Gentleness
[h] Patience
[I] Self-control

Please see the operating manual, TORAH, for further details on the use of these fixes.

As an added upgrade, the Manufacturer has made available to all repaired units a facility enabling direct monitoring and assistance from the resident Maintenance Technician, HASHEM.

Repaired units need only make Him welcome and He will take up residence on the premises.

Continuing to operate a human being unit without corrections voids the Manufacturer’s warranty, exposes the unit to dangers and problems too numerous to list.

Thank you for your immediate attention. Please assist by notifying others of this important recall notice.

(author unknown)

Have an easy fast.

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