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Posts Tagged ‘Palestinians’

SERMON: Orthodox Terrorists: What do these words mean?

February 8, 2016 Leave a comment

This is the first time I am formally delivering a sermon since I returned from Israel a few weeks ago, so let me begin by asking you: What’s up? That is a simple enough question to ask in English, but as I discovered from an Israeli newspaper, the question is not so simple in Hebrew. You see, in Hebrew you can ask “What’s up?” by saying “Mah hamatsav” or you can say “Mah koreh, ” or you can ask “Mah itcha, ” or if you want, “Mah nishma.” If that doesn’t work, try “Mah ha-inyanim” or “Mah holeich.” Or if all else fails, “Mah nihiyah.”

That is a lot of ways to ask the simple question, “What’s up?” But the question is: are all the phrases the same? Do they all have the same connotation? Can they be used interchangeably? Are all synonyms created equal? READ MORE

SERMON: Why Do They Hate Us?

December 11, 2015 Leave a comment

Every Shabbat here at Beth Tfiloh is special, but this Shabbat of the Weiner Tournament
is one of the highlights of our year as we welcome student athletes from some of the finest Jewish day high schools in America and Canada, and this year from Israel as well! Receiving the kind of education they are getting makes them the true future of our people. All of our children are special, but these are very special. And that is why it was so painful for all of us to recently lose one of them.

Ezra Schwartz was a graduate of the Maimondes High School in Boston where he had
our own Rabbi Soskil and Nina Cusner as teachers. Upon graduation he did what many students of day schools and Yeshivot do … he decided to spend his “gap year” before college by going to Israel for a program of study and volunteering. It was while serving as a volunteer, bringing food to soldiers in Judea, that a Palestinian gunman opened fire, killing Ezra. Unfortunately, tragically, incidents like this have become part of the day-to-day life in Israel. But this time was different … the killing of Ezra struck home. It could have been any one of the children attending the Weiner Tournament. Many – if not most – have already been to Israel. Our Beth Tfiloh seniors are taken to Israel every year. And then there is that “gap year” when many of the young adults here today have plans of spending the year in Israel like a cousin of our Bar Mitzvah who is not here today. He is in Israel where, after his gap year of study, he is now starting
paratrooper training.

I hope that all of you who intended to go will still decide to go. But that is not for me to
say. One of my sons was in Israel during the Gulf War when Saddam Hussein was firing scud missiles into Israel. We decided to allow him to stay, but I can only make decisions regarding my children … your parents will have to make a decision regarding you. You may not like their decision and I have reason to believe that it won’t be the first time that you won’t like their decision! But that’s okay. As my mother used to say to me, and I say to you: “Someday you’ll understand … someday you’ll have children and you’ll understand …;” you’ll understand some of the decisions your parents made, decisions not made out of stupidity but out of love. READ MORE

SERMON: American Culture, Jewish Culture, Arab Culture

December 1, 2014 Leave a comment

Should a Jew celebrate Thanksgiving? I know the answer seems obvious, but it’s not as obvious as it seems. Some of the major halachic sages of the 20th century disagreed on this question. After all, Thanksgiving can’t simply be dismissed as being a secular holiday, when American court decisions have ruled Good Friday and Christmas and Chanukah as being secular as well. So how is one to view Thanksgiving?

– On the one hand, my teacher, Rabbi Joseph Soleveitchik, used to conduct the Talmud class for his students earlier on Thanksgiving Day so that he could fly home to Boston to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family.

– Rabbi Moshe Feinstein said that as long as you don’t consider yourself obligated to eat turkey, then you can celebrate the holiday.

– But Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner felt that the establishment of an annual holiday that is based on the Christian calendar makes it a Gentile holiday and, therefore, a Jew should not observe Thanksgiving.

Rabbi Soleveitchik’s position has certainly become the most accepted one, although truth to say, in some Orthodox homes no big deal is made over the Thanksgiving meal. After all, Orthodox Jews have a Thanksgiving meal every Friday night with family, friends and all of the trimmings. I don’t remember Thanksgiving being a major event in my youth. In fact, I remember the first year we were married … Sherry invited her parents and mine for dinner on Thanksgiving Day … and served chicken cacciatore! READ MORE

On “Meriting Our Birthright”

Beth Tfiloh’s own Rabbi Ross Singer responds to Shira Lipkin’s article, Israel is Not My Birthright, in Meriting Our Birthright.

SERMON: The Situation …

There is one word – a Hebrew word – which over the years has taken on a specific meaning. The word used to be considered neutral but now it’s considered a negative. The word is “matzav” – literal translation: “situation.” The word used to be used quite innocently. One person would say to another, “Mah hamatzav – what’s up?” It’s a question that didn’t even need an answer! Or, one Israeli would say to the other: “Yesh matzav” which can mean, “Something’s going on.” If an Israeli Prime Minister were to deliver a State of the Union address, it would be called “Matzav ha-umi – the nation’s situation.” But today, the word “matzav” refers to only one situation … and that is Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians. According to Ruvik Rosenthal, a language columnist for one of Israel’s newspapers, “The word “matzav” is a word with a negative connotation … according to the dictionary definition it is a neutral word, but in daily usage it has a connotation of tension, sadness, problems.” READ MORE

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SERMON: There Are Certain Things You Just Don’t Say! Israel at 66

There are some things you just don’t say! It’s as simple as that! Donald Sterling is learning exactly what I mean. Donald Sterling, born to Jewish parents named Tokowitz, is the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. He was caught on tape telling his girlfriend not to come to basketball games with black people. This is not the first time that Sterling has gotten into trouble for what he said, but this may very well be the last time. Barack Obama – from Malaysia – issued a condemnation of what Sterling said! And Sterling is to be condemned for what he said! It matters not that next month he was supposed to be honored by the National Association of Colored People. It matters not that what he said was said “off the record” in a private conversation and his words were taped without his knowledge, perhaps violating his privacy. It doesn’t matter! Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion but when your opinion is ugly there are certain things you just don’t say! READ MORE

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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