Home > Sermons > ROSH HASHANAH SERMON: “Derech Eretz”


September 9, 2013

We usher in this New Year sitting here … but for many of us, our thoughts are someplace out there.  For all of us, as Americans and as Jews, our hearts and minds are focused on the Middle East where Israel once again finds itself in a neighborhood of turmoil and destruction and a historic vote is soon to take place in the U.S. Congress that will have major ramifications for years to come.  Of that, I will speak more on the night of Kol Nidre.  As Baltimoreans, many of us sitting here today have our minds focusing on Denver where our beloved Ravens usher in this New Year.  The situation reminds me of the time that a World Series game was being played the night of Kol Nidre and a Jew called his rabbi and said, “I’ve been a fan of our team for many years and they are finally in the World Series.  I’ve got to watch the game on TV.”  To which the rabbi replied, “Sidney, that’s what we have video recorders for.”  Sidney, surprised, responded, “You mean I can tape Kol Nidre?”  No, this service is brought to you live!  And you are here, and I want to speak to you about the here and now closer to home.

This year of 2013 represents the anniversary year of two recent major events in the history of our people.  It was 40 years ago, in 1973, that the Yom Kippur War began.  It was 20 years later, in 1993, when the Oslo Accords were signed.  But in between these two, in 1983 – 30 years ago – there was an historic event, if not for the collective Jewish people than certainly for the people of Beth Tfiloh.  It was 30 years ago that we marked the passing of the late, great Rabbi Dr. Samuel Rosenblatt.  He really was great.  During the 50 years that he served as the founding rabbi and spiritual leader of this congregation, he made Beth Tfiloh all that it is today.  He was a giant in the rabbinate… but those who knew him and remember him will tell you that he didn’t look much like a giant!  He was very short in appearance.  And I thought of that during one of my visits to the doctor this year.  After my experience of last summer, I have been seeing the doctor more often just to make sure things are okay.  But the truth of the matter is, the more often you see a doctor, the more things they find wrong with you!  I’m discovering all sorts of new things about my body … words like “cysts,” “degenerative disc,” “arthritis,” “scoliosis,” “cataracts,” “acid reflux” … but none of that bothered me because, basically, I am okay!  There was only one thing that the doctor told me about my physical condition that really upset me.  It seems that I have shrunk!  The doctor said it so casually … but if he knew how hard I’ve worked over the years for every inch, he would have understood how upset I was!  And when he told me that I shrunk, I immediately thought of Rabbi Rosenblatt, because many times I had jokingly said that when Rabbi Rosenblatt came to Beth Tfiloh he was 6 foot 4 … but after so many years with this congregation, they had cut him down to size!  Was this happening to me? READ MORE

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