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Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

SERMON: Do We Have to Wait to “See” to “Believe?”

October 27, 2014 Leave a comment

Of all the Biblical figures, I have always found Noach–or Noah–the most enigmatic. And I don’t say that lightly because I’m not sure what “enigmatic” means! In Brooklyn we never called anyone “enigmatic” … either you were a bum, or you weren’t! So I looked up the meaning of this word “enigmatic” and it is defined as: “difficult to interpret or understand,” “puzzling,” “baffling,” “perplexing.” So, now I can say with full authority: of all the Biblical figures I’ve always found Noach to be the most enigmatic. READ MORE

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SERMON: To Israel, with Love

On the menu for today is Turkey and Obama, our children and leprosy. So let’s get rid of the leprosy first so we can get to the main dish.

Our Torah portions of this morning, Tazria and Metzorah, have been every rabbi’s nightmare down through the centuries. What can one say about Torah portions that deal primarily with the laws of leprosy as they affected the ancient Jewish community? Fortunately, in recent times – perhaps starting with the commentary of the great German scholar, Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch – there has come an understanding that these laws really did not speak of leprosy itself. Too many of the details just don’t pertain to leprosy as we know it; the details don’t always match. Many of leprosy’s normal symptoms are not mentioned. The Torah speaks of this ailment affecting the walls of one’s home and one’s clothing. We know that this is certainly not the case with leprosy. And if we are speaking of leprosy as a contagious disease, how come the Kohain was called upon to be in contact with the leper for healing? No, our sages long ago tried to read something else into this word “metzorah” – the word we have for “leprosy” by referring to it instead as “motzi rah” – he who spreads gossip. What the sages and certainly Rabbi Hirsch are telling us is that what we are talking about here is not a physical ailment, but a moral failing.

With this in mind, what was done to the so-called “leper” is most instructive. The moral “leper” was required to leave the camp and remain isolated for seven days. The moral “leper” must dwell in complete isolation for the damage he has done to the social fabric of his community. Such a person was considered such a danger to the moral life of those he was living with that he had to be shut off from all contact with them. That is what is done to people who are considered a threat. The Amish and Mennonite churches have something called “shunning” while the Witnesses refer to it as “dis-fellowshipping.” In Judaism we have the concept of putting someone in the “Cherem.” But it’s not just in the world of religion. The most dangerous prisoners are put in isolation. Being isolated from the world around you is a terrible feeling. If you want to have some idea of how horrible it can feel, just ask the people of Israel. READ MORE

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Two Lessons from a Donkey: Help Your Enemy and Get a Job!

February 21, 2012 Leave a comment

Today I’m being forced to do something that does not come naturally to me but, because of some Jews, as a rabbi I am forced to do it.  Today I rise to defend President Barack Obama.

As most of you know, I am not one of Mr. Obama’s supporters.  And I’m not the only American Jew who feels this way!  While Mr. Obama won close to 80% of the Jewish vote in 2008, most political commentators agree that he will still win a strong majority of the American Jewish vote this year, the percentage of Jews voting for him may not be as high.  Some disagree with his domestic policies; some disagree with his foreign policies.  And some of us disagree with both.  But some of us, in our disagreement, have gone too far.  And that is why I have to rise to defend him.

At the end of January, Rabbi Dov Lior, who is a Religious Zionist leader in Israel and currently the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba in Chevron – one of the holiest spots on earth for the Jewish people – delivered a speech in which he compared President Obama to Haman – the enemy of the Jews in the Book of Esther.  And he went on to describe our President as a “kushi” – a derogatory term used in the same way the “N” word is used here in America. READ MORE

Is Israel a Punching Bag…or Maybe a Theocracy?

December 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Some good weekend reading on Israel:

See you on Sunday on Square Off at 10 AM!

Shabbat  Shalom.

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Four Dialogues

November 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Rebecca & Isaac, Sarkozy & Obama, Kissinger & Garment, Justices Kagan & Ginsburg

One night a man got into trouble when his wife informed him that the day had gone by and he had forgotten her birthday. He told her how sorry he was, and said he would do anything to make up for it. She immediately said, “All right, tomorrow there better be something in the driveway for me that goes from zero to 200 in two seconds flat, or you’re in for it.” The next morning the wife awoke early, and looking out her bedroom window saw a small package in the driveway. She was a bit perturbed, as this was not what she was expecting. She went out and retrieved the package and upon opening it, found a handsome brand new bathroom scale! The funeral for her husband took place earlier this week.

According to the dictionary, a dialogue is “an exchange between two people of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.” But not every dialogue – as we just heard – works out that way. On this Thanksgiving weekend I want to draw your attention to four dialogues that have received attention in recent weeks, and see what we can learn from them. READ MORE

Obama’s speech at the U.N.

September 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Because of his speech yesterday at the U.N., today is pro-Obama Day!

http://nymag.com/news/politics/israel-2011-9/

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/obama-gets-a-kosher-seal-of-approval-1.385896

Let’s enjoy it while it lasts!

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Obama and Israel; Does He have a Problem? Do We?

My sermon, “Obama and Israel; Does He have a Problem? Do We?”, received a standing ovation in shul last Shabbat.

Here’s what I said:

I must begin by telling you that I was uncomfortable writing this sermon. I wondered whether it was too harsh or not harsh enough. I asked myself if I should be delivering it or if I should have delivered it two years ago. So I’ll leave it to you to decide.

This week Israel celebrates the 62nd anniversary of its rebirth … the greatest event in modern Jewish history. You know by now how much Israel means to me. From my perspective, an Israel comes along once every 2000 years so it is to be cherished, protected and loved. In two weeks I will make my annual visit to that beautiful country, taking along my entire family, which means that for my oldest granddaughter – who is 7 years old – this will be her fourth visit but for my youngest granddaughter it will be her first. We are all excited for her! Israel is at the very heart of my family’s existence.

It was with this feeling uppermost in my mind that I chose not to vote for Barack Obama for President. Although I felt he offered a measure of hope for our country, and although I felt the election of a black man as President of the United States would be one of the most positive and remarkable events to take place during my lifetime, and although I agreed with many parts of his domestic policies … it was his foreign policy views that concerned me and proved decisive. I have a much more hawkish view than he does on foreign policy. I have always considered myself what is called a “Jackson Democrat” and I was genuinely concerned about Obama’s perspective on Israel. My feeling was based on something he had said and something he didn’t say.

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