Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein
Words of Encouragement
Rabbi Jay M. SteinSunday, April 23, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
Moses said to Aaron, "come forward." There is a tradition that Aaron had to be urged to bring his purification offering, a calf, because he was embarrassed. It reminded him of his role in fashioning the Golden Calf. (Etz Hayim page 631)
I watch many sports. There is an interesting ”happening” that occurs at many sports events that doesn’t take place in our every-day lives. Cheerleaders appear. What I find amazing about this is that most people who play sports don't need the added incentive of someone pushing them to try harder. Conversely, there are many professions in which a great deal of support is needed, yet there is none. And so too in our every-day lives.
Perhaps our values are misaligned. We all need encouragement. Regardless the situation, at some time in our lives, we all need a little push. Perhaps we should stop for a moment during our busy days and offer someone words of support for whatever their need.
Kindness Takes Work
Rabbi Jay M. SteinThursday, April 13, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
Who knows 13? I know thirteen. Thirteen are the attributes of God.
We conclude our sedarim with this wonderful song in which we play a numbers game. In this Shabbat’s Torah reading we are introduced to the 13 attributes of God, “Adonai, Adonai, a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and granting pardon.” (Exodus 34:7)
It may be difficult to discern how the Rabbis calculate 13 different attributes, however, we can see a pattern of kindness and forgiveness. Over the course of the next seven weeks we will play another numbers game as we count from Passover to Shavuot. Each day we will count the Omer and we will need to do an accounting. Between Passover and Shavuot we will journey from slavery to receiving the Torah and we will have ask ourselves the question of whether we have earned both our freedom and the Torah.
Each day we make choices between patience and kindness and anger and resentment. Each day we have the option of mimicking God or giving in to our lesser selves. Let us to use this time between Passover and Shavuot to review how we did each day.
Silence Can Be Sinful
Rabbi Jay M. SteinThursday, March 30, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
If anyone sins because they do not speak up when they hear a public charge to testify regarding something they have seen or learned about, they will be held responsible. (Leviticus 5:1)
One of the most difficult things to do is to get involved. It is much easier to sit on the sidelines and watch. A crime occurs and we are afraid for our own well-being. We say nothing. Over the course of the past few years we have seen the devastating effects of bullying. It happens in person and it happens on the internet. We watch politicians as they intimidate each other. We say nothing. Is it because we fear retribution? Is it because we don't care?
The sentence from this week's reading explains that we are going to be held accountable for our actions, the transgression we commit and those we omit. There are those who need us to be their voice; our silence will be our condemnation. Just this year we watched protest after protest. Some of us said, “They are doing the work therefore I do not need to get involved.” This week’s reading tells us to do otherwise!