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SERMON: The Pope or the Chief Rabbis; Who Would You Choose?

October 12, 2015 Leave a comment
Hassid Fliping the Bird

(Photo by Geralyn Shukwit)

It is said that one picture is worth a thousand words. If that be the case, the picture that appeared in the New York Post and went viral on the Internet before Yom Kippur speaks volumes about the contemporary Jewish condition and helps explain why I already miss the Pope, and perhaps provides the beginning of an answer to one of the greatest challenges confronting the Jewish people. (Now if you had trouble understanding that sentence, how do you think I feel?)

Let me explain. It took place two days before Yom Kippur at a time when Jews around the world have a custom of participating in the Kapparot ritual. The ritual itself has a long history of controversy and some great rabbis wish ed to completely ban it. The ritual used to involve a chicken … you swing a live chicken over your head, proclaiming in effect that you, yourself, deserve to die for your sins but instead this chicken will be put to death as expiation for your sins. Sort of, instead of a scapegoat … a scape chicken! READ MORE

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SERMON: You Wouldn’t Believe the Things They’re Saying About the Jews!

It was the Gentile prophet Bilaam who proclaimed those immortal and, unfortunately, true words regarding the Jews: “Hein am levaded yishkon – behold they are a nation destined to dwell alone.” In many ways the state of Israel is the most isolated one on earth. It is surrounded by neighbors, many of whom do not recognize its right to exist, and who have no economic or diplomatic relations with it. And even with the two neighbors with which Israel does have a peace treaty, very few of their people visit Israel. On the international scene there is a movement to boycott Israel. Well known entertainers like Dustin Hoffman, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana and, of course, Jane Fonda refuse to step foot in Israel. No member of Britain’s royal family has ever paid a state visit to Israel. So when popular international icons do visit, that is big news in Israel! In recent weeks, Israel has had three such visitors … there was Justin Timberlake, who immediately won over the hearts of all Israel when he paid a moving visit to the Western Wall and began his jam-packed Tel Aviv concert with the words, “Yalla balagan” – slang words known to all Israelis as meaning, “Let’s go for it … let’s get the show on the road!” And you don’t get much bigger than the Rolling Stones, and they won over the hearts of all Israelis when they delayed the start of their show, which took place on the first night of Shavuot … they delayed it so that their Orthodox fans would have time to drive to the concert when Yom Tov was over, and they introduced themselves by saying: “Anachanu ha-avanim hamitgalgalot – we are the Rolling Stones!” READ MORE

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SERMON: Who Do You Trust? Should You Trust Your Rabbi?

In the 1950’s there was a popular television program called “Who Do You Trust?” The emcee was a young man just starting out in television. I wonder whatever happened to him. His name was Johnny Carson! In regard to the question of “who do you trust,” today I would answer: not your rabbis! I’m not talking about me … I’m talking about other rabbis; rabbis like Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum – more popularly known as the Satmar Rebbe – but really one of the two Satmar Rebbes. There are two leaders of this world-renowned Chasidic dynasty … brothers who do not talk to each other, who have sued each other in court, each having their own followers. It is estimated that there are 120,000 Satmar Chasidim in the world and for these 120,000 Jews, what the Rebbe says, goes! Some of Tony Soprano’s henchmen defied him, but no Satmar Chasid would defy his Rebbe! But if they ask me – which they haven’t – I would tell them: don’t trust everything your rabbi tells you! Last week the Satmar Rebbe took note of the fact that there is an increased rate of cancer amongst the women in his sect. He was obviously referring to breast cancer, but he would not use that word. What he did say is that the increasing cancer amongst Satmar women was due to their lack of modesty (Satmar women cover more of their body than most any other Jewish group in the world, but that’s beside the point). And so, as to increase the standards of modesty and lower the rate of cancer among Satmar women, he called for all use of makeup and cosmetics to stop. So, it’s the women that cause cancer. It’s the cosmetics that cause cancer. If any of the Satmar Chasidim asked me – and they haven’t and won’t – I would tell them not to trust every word their rabbi tells them. READ MORE

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Rabbis in the news

November 12, 2009 Comments off

rabbi

In regard to rabbis there are people who say, “If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.”  These three news items from today’s papers show that that statement is not the case.  Enjoy!

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3802914,00.html

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3800836,00.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/sports/11boxer.html?ref=sports

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Rabbis in high heels

October 26, 2009 Comments off

High-Heels

Is it possible that someday your rabbi will wear high heels?  If that day comes, she/he will be taller but I bet the sermon will be shorter!

http://blogs.forward.com/sisterhood-blog/117539/

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