Posts Tagged ‘Purim’

SERMON: God’s Cossacks: Force-fed Judaism

Something historic took place on the festival of Purim, and we Jews didn’t even celebrate it! Yes, everyone knows that Purim was the day we were saved from annihilation by Haman. That we celebrated. But there is something else that took place that day that affects us to this very day. You know what happened on Purim day? The Jews accepted the Torah! That’s right! It happened on Purim! You thought it happened on Shavuot at Mt. Sinai. But no, it happened on Purim in Persia. Allow me to explain because the explanation may give some insight into what motivated the Jews to build the Golden Calf, and indeed it might help us understand how Jews should be treating each other today. READ MORE

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SERMON: Why Do They Hate Us?

It happened to a man who died 60 years ago this past month and it is still studied and discussed by Jewish and Christian scholars alike. Most people are unaware of what happened, but it happened! Shockingly, indeed, unbelievably it happened … and people still wonder why it happened. Together let’s step back in time and recall the story of Rabbi Israel Zolli –the Chief Rabbi of Rome. Our story begins in June, 1944 when Rabbi Zolli, the Chief Rabbi, officiated at a Shabbat ceremony held in Rome’s central synagogue, the Tempio Maggiore, to commemorate the war dead and to celebrate the liberation of Rome from German occupation. Zolli delivered a message of hope, moving to tears many of the thousands of people who attended the ceremony. No one at the time could ever have imagined that nine months later, in February, 1945 an even larger crowd would gather in that very same synagogue for another ceremony … this time to sit shiva and to mourn for Rabbi Zolli who had not died, but had announced his conversion to Christianity. And not just him, but his wife as well! And to top it off, at his Baptism in the chapel of Santa Maria Degli Angeli, he took on the first name Eugenio, in honor of Pope Pius XII … referred to by some as “Hitler’s Pope.” READ MORE

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SERMON: From Selma to Lebanon; Left on the Cutting Room Floor…

I know that some of you would like to hear my thoughts on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress and the events of this week. To tell you the truth, I would like to hear them as well, but I am still listening and reading what others have to say. The fact is the real test of the speech is the effect that it had, and for that it is too soon to tell. So, I will wait until next week to speak about what everyone is speaking about! Instead, today I would like to draw your attention to some people and events which no one is speaking about because they were left on the cutting room floor.

First, let me ask you: how many digital pictures do you think are taken every year? Let’s start with this: on Facebook, WhatsApp and Snapchat alone, 1.5 billion new photos are shared every day, which comes out to about 550 billion a year! How many digital pictures are taken in total? Hard to say … it could be one trillion or five trillion or ten trillion! And amongst those photos, do you know what picture is frequently taken? A picture of yourself – a selfie! Over a million people every day take a picture of themselves. Now you tell me: do you think they really look that good? They obviously don’t think so! More than one third admit to touching up their selfies! So why do they bother even taking the picture in the first place? I guess that’s the world in which we live. Today there doesn’t seem to be anything worse than being left out of the picture. There is a phrase – an idiom – “left on the cutting room floor” … the picture was made but for one reason or another, your part got edited out … “left on the cutting room floor.” I tell you this today because that is what has been happening recently to the Jewish people. READ MORE

Best. Gragger. Ever.

This might be a little late for Purim this year…so let’s just consider it early for next year! You’re going to love this–it’s a whole new way to react to “Haman” during megillah reading.

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SERMON: Haman and the Hareidim

I tell you now: if you stick around until the end of the sermon you’re going to hear me say something that you might find shocking, coming from me!

Tonight we usher in the joyous festival of Purim. Purim commemorates an incident in Jewish history which took place nearly 2500 years ago while the Jews were living in Persia. Haman convinces the king to annihilate the Jews, but through the wisdom of Mordecai and Esther, and with the grace of God, the Jews were saved … leading to rejoicing and celebrating, which we commemorate to this very day. In fact, rejoicing is such an integral part of Purim that our sages ordained that on this day we are to fulfill what, to me, is the nicest and certainly the most popular rabbinic decree: On Purim, say our sages, one is obligated to drink enough alcohol until – in the words of our sages – “Ad d’lo yodah ben arur Haman l’boruch Mordechai” – until one can no longer differentiate between the phrase, “Cursed is Haman” and the phrase, “Blessed is Mordechai.” What a marvelous commandment! It seems as if we are obligated to get drunk! Even those Jews who usually don’t follow the laws of our rabbis, must find some attraction to this decree! READ MORE

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This Shabbat…I’m going to say something shocking!

This Shabbat, I will discuss Haman and the Hareidim. This is how I will begin my sermon: “I tell you now: if you stick around until the end of the sermon you’re going to hear me say something that you might find shocking, coming from me …”

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Purim 2012: Bibi for (American) President!

Some Purim Torah from my friend, Rabbi Jack Riemer:

Purim Torah for 2012

The Republicans have been hopelessly entangled in a never ending race, and no one candidate has yet been able to capture the nomination, and so the establishment is looking for another candidate.

The ideal candidate is:  BIBI NETANYAHU!!!

l. It is true that he was not born in the United States, but Obama surely cannot object to that, since he too was not born in the United States.

2. If the key issue is the economy, he was Minister of Finance, so he has had experience in ruinng the economy.

3. It is true that he has had three wives, but Romney surely can’t object because he is a Mormon, and by them, that is permitted.

4. Each of the candidates has been claiming that he is more pro-Israel than the others are, but he will surely have Israel’s back. In fact, since all the candidates are stressing that Israel and America have shared values, he could bring about a merger. He could be head of both countries at the same time as a step towards merger.

5. He has more experience and more ability than any of the others at debating Obama.

6. He would probably get a fairly good share of the Jewish vote—just like Mordechai, who saved the Jews, rose to high office, and was ratsu LIROV echav, and was approved by MANY of his people.