Archive for October, 2012

An Interesting Article About Adelson

October 26, 2012 Leave a comment

An interesting Washington Post article about an interesting man whom I spoke about in my Shemini Atzeret sermon. Sheldon Adelson: Casino magnate, mega-donor is a man of many motives

Shabbat Shalom.

-Rabbi Wohlberg

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The Kishke Debate

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

In light of my Rosh Hashana sermon, I thought you might find this article of interest. 

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Teaching Kids Bar & Bat Mitzvah Etiquette

October 15, 2012 Leave a comment

This New York Times article, Teaching Respect to the Faithful — which examines the lack of decorum among teens at Bar & Bat Mitzvah parties — speaks for itself, but I personally think the situation is even worse…


October 15, 2012 Leave a comment

What do the author Salman Rushdie and the Broadway show, “The Book of Mormon,” have in common? To find the answer, we have to go all the way back to the beginning.

Today we began at the very beginning … telling once again the story of the creation of the world. It is a basic principle of Judaism that the world was created ex-nihlio – out of nothing. So, what did God use to form the heaven and the earth and sea and the birds and the bees and the vegetation and the human being? What he used were words. On each and every day of the six days of creation, whatever it was that was created begins with the words: “vayomer Hashem – and God said …” In the Ethics of the Fathers we are taught: “B’asarah maamorot nivra ha-olam – by ten acts of speech the world was created.” Ten times in the first chapter of Genesis we find the words, “And God said …” “And God said: let there be light.” “And God said: let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures.” “And God said: let the earth bring forth the living creature after its kind.” “And God said: let us make man in our image.” God created the whole world with words and letters … with the power of speech. How did He do it? I guess it’s magic! That magic formula, “abracadabra,” is nothing more than the Aramaic words for “I will create as I speak.” The power of speech began with the Divine and was considered so significant and so powerful that God decided to pass it on to the human being. What is it that makes man different than the animal? We read in this morning’s Torah portion: “Vayipach b’apav nishmas chaim – and God blew into man the spirit of life” which the classic Biblical commentator, Onkelos, translates as: “Ruach mimallalah – a speaking spirit.” READ MORE

Mysterious Ways: Blessed by Bashert

October 12, 2012 Leave a comment

A fascinating story from a good friend of mine, Rabbi Benjamin Blech, who through a “chance” meeting at a medical ethics conference was invited to the Vatican library to view Maimonides’ original manuscripts: Mysterious Ways: Blessed by Bashert

Shabbat Shalom.

Mitchell Wohlberg

Shemini Atzeret=Taking Care of Your Own

October 10, 2012 Leave a comment

In the Book of Ecclesiastes we read during this festival of Sukkot, we find those immortal verses which began with: “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven …” And then we are told: “Eit lachabok v’eit lirchok machabak – there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing.” I have done one of them in regard to Rabbi David Wolpe. Today I am happy to do the other.

Rabbi David Wolpe is one of the leading and most important rabbis on the American scene. He is the rabbi of the prominent Sinai Temple in Los Angeles. He is highly respected not just by his congregants but by his rabbinic colleagues for his writings, his insights and sermonic ability. It was one of his sermons some years back that I felt a need to distance myself from. At that time Rabbi Wolpe made the news when he delivered a sermon questioning whether the exodus from Egypt really happened, pointing out that archaeologists had not found any proof to support its having occurred. The sermon really bothered me. Rabbi Wolpe, a Conservative rabbi, in my mind was putting to question the whole underpinnings of Judaism. If the exodus didn’t happen, then the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai could not have happened as well! It would put to lie the words of the first commandment: “I am the Lord thy God who took you out of the land of Egypt.” Without the exodus, how could there be the revelation? And I raised the even greater theological question: if the exodus never happened, then why do we Jews refrain from eating bagels for eight days? For me, questioning the exodus is to question the whole meaning of Pesach and much more.  READ MORE

The Superheroes of Modern Orthodox Judaism

October 10, 2012 Leave a comment

What do Batman, Robin, Superman, Zorro, the Green Lantern, Spiderman, Donny Steinberg, Yitz Lieberman, Kevin Alter, Seth Schlussel and Kevin Hakimi have in common? The answer: no one knows who they really are! But they are all superheroes!

During this festival of Sukkot, aside from eating in the Succah, there is another ritual we perform every day with the exception of the Sabbath to commemorate the ancient agricultural meaning of this festival. We recite a blessing and hold in our hands the four species: the lulav, the palm branch; the esrog, the citron; the Hadasim, the myrtles; and the aravos, the willows. We hold them together and recite a blessing which concludes with singling out the lulav – the palm branch. There was a rather strange and fascinating aspect of how the lulav was used by the Jews in ancient days. In the course of the year we find a wide variety of mitzvot which we are encouraged to fulfill. In virtually every instance, once the mitzvah is performed, we lay aside the object with which we performed the mitzvah and it is relegated to relative obscurity. When we finish with Chanukah, we put away the Menorah. At the end of the Seder, we clean off the table. After Shofar blowing, we put the Shofar away for another year. Yet the Talmud asserts that “such was the custom of the people of Jerusalem on Sukkot … they would carry the lulav aloft in their hands when they left their homes, when they walked to the prayer hall and when they returned. They would carry it when they visited the sick and when they went to visit those in mourning …” In other words, the lulav represented much more than a palm branch upon which a special blessing was recited on the festival. It became an object to be treasured and displayed and to be carried with oneself throughout the week of Sukkot. READ MORE