Archive for April, 2014

SERMON: Would You Abandon a Sinking Ship?

Question: Who is the most criticized person in the whole world? Who has been called “a disgrace to humanity,” “a murderer,” “a coward?” Let me help you: what captain abandoned his sinking ship? You may not know his name but now you know who I am talking about! Lee Jun-Seok was the captain of the South Korean ferry Sewol, which sank last Wednesday with Captain Jun-Seok walking to safety while close to 300 of his passengers went to their deaths. The abandoning of the ship by the captain was labeled by the President of South Korea “a murderous act that can never be understood or forgiven.”  Now I ask you a more serious question: What would you have done if you were the captain of that sinking ship? READ MORE

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SERMON: Suing Your Parents

It took place in a courtroom in New Jersey on Tuesday, March 4 of this year and it immediately became a topic of discussion on the Internet when Rachel Canning, of Lincoln Park, New Jersey, filed a lawsuit against her parents. As one writer described the story:

Rachel Canning is an 18-year-old who is suing her parents. She brought a lawsuit to force her parents to pay for her private school education and her personal expenses. It seems that while living at home her parents set rules she was expected to follow. She had to abide by a curfew, commit to doing assigned chores performed by her siblings, and be respectful to her elders. She chose instead to leave home and live with the family of a friend – a home in which she was free to get drunk and to party as she pleased. It seems she valued independence above all. But unfortunately she wasn’t independent enough to be able to support herself – and so she demanded that the parents who had previously bought her a car, paid for her tuition, and set aside money for her college education be legally required to continue to take care of her in the style to which she had become accustomed. The contract she assumed guided their relationship was “You owe me everything – I owe you nothing” – because after all that’s the way I and so many members of my generation define your job as parent. In a Morristown court, after Rachel filed for an emergency order to get $600 a week from her parents, Judge Peter Bogaard blasted the young woman, referring to an obscene voicemail she left for her mother. “Have you ever seen a young adult show such gross disrespect to a parent in a voicemail?” he asked. “The child thumbs her nose at her parents, leaves the house and turns around asking, ‘Now you have to pay me money every week.’ ” READ MORE

SERMON: Pesach, Matzoh, Maror … and the Contemporary Situation

Preparing my sermon for Pesach, I felt like the Chassidic master Reb Shimon of Yareslov. It seems that Reb Shimon used to complete a tractate of the Talmud on erev Tisha B’av, turning that day into a festive occasion. The fact is, that even though Halacha may permit this, no one does it! But Reb Shimon used to do it every year; singing with joy and anticipation until the last minute before Tisha B’av of the coming of the Moshiach – “Adir Hu, yivneh, beito, b’karov – Mighty is God, may He rebuild His house soon.” Reb Shimon would finish the song, say the Birkat Hamazon, put on his soft shoes and cry out, “Eicha!” and he would pass out! The Sanzer Rebbe would say that the only one who really understands the loss of the Temple is Reb Shimon … he holds out until the last minute waiting and only then he cries “Eicha!” realizing the Moshiach and Temple have not come! READ MORE

“Vehi She’amda” in Israel…and in China

Please view these videos… they both contain the same song from the Hagaddah; same words, same tune … but oh so different!  This is a reminder that, in fact, the Jewish people are one.


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SERMON: The Hagaddah Not to Use!

This morning I want to talk to you about two men; one of whom I suspect none of you have ever heard of and the other I suspect all of you have heard of. Both of them have one thing in common. Let’s see if you can guess what it is.

The first man is named Julius Meini. You never heard of him, and neither did I or many others until he was recently elected as the new President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, a constituent group of the World Jewish Congress. The Euro-Asian Jewish Congress represents the Jews living in Russia, Ukraine, India, Singapore, New Zealand and others. If you have never heard of him, don’t feel bad … most of the people he now represents have never heard of him as well! First of all, Mr. Meini is not a citizen of any of the countries he represents. He holds dual Austrian and British citizenship. Second, Mr. Meini has never before held a leadership role in any Jewish organization. Now, he is elected as the President of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress? Third of all, Mr. Meini is currently under investigation for bank fraud. Strange choice to lead a Jewish organization and even stranger is the fact that Mr. Meini’s mother was baptized and some question whether he is, in fact, Jewish. So what is it that Mr. Meini has that elevated him to such an important position in the Jewish world? You tell me: what’s he got? READ MORE

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Pesach is just one week away…

We are just a week away from Pesach … it’s time to take it seriously.  The following articles will help make your preparation “just a bit” easier.

How to do your Pesach Cleaning Cheerfully in Less than One Day, by Rav Shlomo Aviner, Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim

The Star-K’s guide to Passover Products That Do Not Require Additional Passover Certification

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What Hagaddah Not to Use…

There are literally hundreds of Hagaddahs out there.  It’s time to look for the one that is right for your family. My sermon this Shabbat is: What Hagaddah Not to Use.

Attached is a Hagaddah put out by the Federations … it doesn’t have everything, but it has a lot.  You can download it for free!

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