Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Stand with Israel

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Friday, May 11, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

I get goose bumps every time I sing the line from Hatikvah proclaiming, “O then our Hope—it is not dead, Our ancient Hope and true, To be a nation free forevermore Zion and Jerusalem at our core.”  It doesn’t matter where I am, who I am with or under what circumstances I sing those words, I stand a little taller. I feel a little stronger.

Whether you agree with the government of Israel’s stance on pluralism, democracy or a two state solution, its existence is a modern day miracle. Decade after decade of war has put an enormous financial strain on its economy.  Nevertheless, it’s economy  has become one of the strongest in the world.  As war after war has taken some of the brightest and most creative of minds, Israel’s position as a hub of innovation is without question.  

Please join me on June 3rd to celebrate Israel.  For one day, lets’ put our politics aside and stand shoulder to shoulder as we  march down 5th Avenue.  There will be a bus leaving from the synagogue.  Please let us know you will be on the bus. “To be a free nation in our own land,” requires the Jewish community of the Diaspora, especially here in America, to stand with our people.  Bus leaves at 10:30 am.

  

Living With and Living Without

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, April 26, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Mishna Avot 3,7

  1. ELEAZAR (A MAN) OF BERTOTHA SAID: GIVE UNTO HIM OF THAT WHICH IS HIS, FOR THOU AND WHAT THOU HAST ARE HIS; EVEN SO [WE FIND IT EXPRESSED] IN [THE CASE OF] DAVID, [WHEN] HE SAID: FOR ALL THINGS COME OF THEE, AND OF THINE OWN HAVE WE GIVEN THEE.

 

In a very famous midrash, Abraham smashes his father’s idols. When Terach, Abraham’s father returns to see the broken idols, young Abraham explains they were fighting over food and they destroyed themselves. In astonishment Terach responds incredulously about the idols capacity for such behavior.

 

This Mishna seems to pose a similar dilemma. Does God want our material possessions? I think not. Is this a statement about charity? Possibly.  More to the point, our Mishna seems to be posing the challenge of attachment. This Mishna asks, to what are you truly attached?  What can you live without. What are those things that if they were taken tomorrow would make life unbearable and what are those things that are expendable?

 

I imagine that most any material possession pales in comparison to other necessities in life. Our midrash places before us this hypothetical question. If tomorrow all your material acquisitions were taken, what would you be left with? Would you have the love of family, the concerns of friends, the respect of colleagues?

 

  

Meaningful Conversation

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Mishna Avot 3.6 

HALAFTA OF KEFAR HANANIA SAID: [WHEN THERE ARE] TEN SITTING TOGETHER AND OCCUPYING THEMSELVES WITH TORAH, THE SHECHINAH ABIDES AMONG THEM.

People are different in different settings.  There are some who feel completely comfortable making small talk with a few friends. There are some who prefer the large group over intimate conversation. Yet every one of these circumstances center on what is being said. 

When the impulse is to talk of the regular everyday, mundane topics, like sports, weather and career, seize the moment to speak of God, Torah and Israel.  By giving us the subject matter to discuss we take the first step to being comfortable in our surroundings.

The young man or woman preparing for a date wonders what they will talk about over dinner.  The couple getting ready to go to a dinner party thinks about the varied topics that will bantered about at the table. Our Mishna offers the suggestion that values, morals and God’s word might be a good topic of conversation.