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Posts Tagged ‘The Washington Post’

SERMON: Divide Jerusalem? Divide Berlin?

There is a word that all of you know. In fact, most all of you will even recognize it in Hebrew. It is one of the words found in three verses of today’s Torah portion that make up 15 words that are amongst the best known in all the Bible. It is the third word in the Priestly Blessing, which reads: “Yevorecacha Hashem – may the Lord bless you,” get ready because here comes the word, “v’yishmerecha – “and keep you.” I told you that most of you would know the word. But let me tell you something else. I suspect most all of you don’t know what it means. What does it mean that God should “keep” you? Keep you where? Keep you what? The first word we understand … may God “bless” you. What does “bless” mean? We all know – it means bless! That’s easy! The biblical commentator, Rashi, specifies its meaning to be: “Your possessions should be blessed.” But what’s with the “keep?” Let me tell you a man who understands what the V’yishmeracha – to “keep” means. And he doesn’t even know a word of Hebrew!

His name is David Dao. Do you remember him? How quickly we forget! Less than two months ago there was hardly anyone in America who didn’t know his name. He is a 69 year-old doctor who was forcibly removed from a flight from Chicago to Louisville, KY. He had a ticket and all his documents were in order. But that didn’t stop United Airlines, which used to have as its tag line, “Fly the Friendly Skies of United,” forcibly wrench him from his seat and physically drag him down the aisle because the flight had been overbooked. To put this in biblical terms, you see what happened? He had a seat but wasn’t allowed to “keep” it! That’s how Rashi explains the V’yishmeracha – to “keep” to mean. In Rashi’s words, “That bandits should not come against you and take your property.” Rashi goes on to say, “For one who gives a gift to his servant is unable to guard it against all people.” What is the good of getting a gift if you are not going to be able to keep it? What is the good of buying a ticket for an airline seat if you are not going to be able to keep it? What is the good of reuniting Jerusalem if the world is going to try and take it away from you? READ MORE

SERMON: Yom Kippur – Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

September 16, 2013 Leave a comment

We had a wonderful member of our congregation named Robert Winegrad who passed away last year. One of the wonderful things he did was maintain a family tradition that was started in 1952 when they began distributing Passover food baskets to needy Jewish families. To help raise funds for this worthy project, the family had printed contribution cards as many organizations do. This year, in
preparing words to speak at Bob’s unveiling, I came across one of these cards that he had sent to me which said, “A contribution has been made to the Passover Basket Fund.” And then he wrote, “O great and exalted spiritual leader, we thank you for your leadership and inspiration and given the length of your High Holiday sermons, for preparing us for eternity.” Signed, Dotsie and Bob Winegrad.

Well, if you think my sermons are long … you can’t imagine how long it takes to prepare them!

This one spread out over months when I found a reoccurring theme that struck me by virtue of a book I read, a movie I saw, a news clip I watched and an article that broke my heart. And together they all teach us an important lesson in life; a lesson that can best be expressed by a wonderful song that Bruce Springsteen chants: “Keep your eyes on the prize!” READ MORE

Washington Post on Israeli Settlements Rhetoric

January 2, 2013 Leave a comment

It’s nice to start the New Year with someone saying that it’s not always our fault. Read this Op-Ed from The Washington Post:  Overheated rhetoric on Israeli settlements