Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Fences

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Saturday, June 23, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Mishna Avot 3:13 

AKIBA SAID: JESTING AND LIGHT-HEADEDNESS LEAD A MAN ON TO LEWDNESS; TRADITION IS A FENCE TO THE TORAH; TITHES [FORM] A FENCE TO WEALTH, VOWS A FENCE TO SELF-RESTRAINT; A FENCE TO WISDOM IS SILENCE.

The book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” is a wonderful children’s story about a mouse who starts to eat a cookie; he becomes distracted by the crumbs;  while cleaning the crumbs he is distracted by something else; and before you know it he has forgotten about the cookie until he has comes full circle, to all he wants is a cookie.

The same is true of our lives.  We often get distracted and lose sight of the really important things. We start working on our marriage;  then we start a career.  We start working on our career;  then the kids come along.  We get started on our parenting;  then the children grow up and move out.  Next thing you know we are back to our marriage.  The problem is, if we haven’t done the work on it all along, sometimes we don’t even have that.  

Our Mishna reminds us that often one thing leads to another. If we are to secure the really important things in life, then we need to safe-guard them. We need to create models of behavior to insure that we protect our core values and distance ourselves from distractions.

  

May Pride in One Another Unite Us

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Monday, June 4, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Mishna Avot 3,10

HE  (Hanina ben Dosa) ALSO USED TO SAY: ANYONE FROM WHOM THE SPIRIT OF [HIS FELLOW-] CREATURES DERIVES SATISFACTION, FROM HIM THE SPIRIT OF THE ALL-PRESENT [TOO] DERIVES SATISFACTION. BUT ANYONE FROM WHOM THE SPIRIT OF [HIS FELLOW-] CREATURES DERIVES NO SATISFACTION, FROM HIM THE SPIRIT OF THE ALL-PRESENT [TOO] DERIVES NO SATISFACTION. DOSA B. HARKINAS SAID: MORNING SLEEP, MIDDAY WINE, CHILDREN'S TALK AND SITTING IN THE ASSEMBLIES OF THE IGNORANT PUT A MAN OUT OF THE WORLD.

 “May selfish pride not divide us, may pride in one another unite us” are the words we offer before the open ark on Shabbat and holidays.  Implicit in this sentence is the idea that jealousy tends to place a stumbling block in the path of positive relationships. Wanting what someone else possesses has a double negative effect on us.  First, we resent the other person and secondly, we lose an appreciation of what we already have. This can happen in any relationship.  How we choose to deal with our feelings can make a huge difference.  We do have a choice.

When we hear of the fortune of another, we can easily choose to be upset, or we can choose to be happy for them. In choosing the later, we afford ourselves the opportunity to offer a moment of gratitude. I believe, this positive sentiment will result in the kindness being returned. 

When someone is spared from tragedy, they come to the synagogue and offer the blessing of Birkat HaGomel.  The congregation’s response to this rite of thanksgiving is, “May He who has been gracious to you continue to favor you with all that is good.” The response isn’t,”Just as God favored you may God also favor me.”  No, the response is one of true joy for another and with the added blessing of praying that the same will occur again for that person.

There are plenty of blessings to enjoy; may you find them in your life.  May they be so plentiful and deep that you never begrudge another theirs.

PowerStart: The Power to Name

Sermon: The Laziness of Negativity

FinishStrong: Spin Doctor

 

  

Walk for a Cause, Not Against One

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Walk for a Cause Not Against One

There are three marches that have left an indelible imprint on my psyche.  The march from Sinai after the revelation that changed the course of humanity; the death march of our people to the gas chambers; and the march  across the Edmund Pettis bridge led by Martin Luther King Jr. Each of these marches took incredible acts of bravery.  Each of these marches reminds us of the strength that comes from the power of standing shoulder to shoulder with people.

This is my last invitation to you to join us as we march in the Israel Day Parade this Sunday. Unlike those who march towards violence; Unlike those who run with bombs and guns towards war; we will gather in NY with people from the around the world to walk in support of our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.  No doubt there will be those who will protest this march.  Unquestionably, there will be those stand against us. But, we will walk!  We will walk for a cause not against one.