Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Concealed Acts

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Friday, September 15, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

Concealed acts concern the Lord our God; but with overt acts, it is for us and our children ever to apply all the provisions of this Teaching. (Deuteronomy 29:28)

There are those who transgress secretly but perform mitzvot in public; others transgress openly but perform mitzvot secretly. (Itture Torah Vol. VI p.181)

At this time of year when we take an accounting of our past year’s actions, an internal dialogue takes place.  The volume on that discussion rises as the days of awe draw closer. We assess whether we have lived to our potential or we have fallen short. Often, we compare ourselves to others, asking, have we done better or worse than those around us?

The Chasidic masters caution us with regards to this approach because we really have no way of knowing.  For some their outward public behavior is not aligned with their private actions.  Some are secretly pious while others have a public personae.   

So, what is a better approach? 

Please join us as we usher in the High Holiday Season with Selihot this Saturday evening, September 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm. At that service we will  also recall our loved ones who passed away this year.


Monuments and Statues

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, September 6, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

And on those stones you shall inscribe every word of this Teaching most distinctly. (Deuteronomy 27:8)

Nations erect monuments to memorialize their conquests, victories and heroes.  Israel is told to inscribe on stone the words of Torah. (Abravanel)

The events of Charlottesville have torn open a gaping wound that has been long festering in our country.  The racial divide we had hoped would be a distant part of our history is stillteeming, malicious and showing no signs of dissipating.  Under the guise of protest against removal of a statue, hatred has, again, reared its ugly head.

Monuments remind us of the victory and the loss at a specific moment in history.  Whether one should be erected or not depends on the perception of that moment.  Significant events in history conjure up deep emotions.  The protests and counter protests in Charlottesville brought to the forefront the issue of racial tension in this country.  It is a reminder of the current inscrutable hatred that lives and breathes within our borders.


All You Have to do is Want It

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Monday, August 21, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

See, I set before you blessing and curse. (Deuteronomy 11:26)

We have learned that different people absorb information in different ways - some by seeing , some by hearing, some by touching. Those Israelites who were not persuaded by hearing God's commandments at Sinai, or by hearing Moses' exhortations , are asked to see the difference that following God's ways can make in one's life. (Etz Hayim page 1061)

Last year I had the privilege of teaching in our Religious school.  It was the first time in many years I had a regular teaching assignment in a supplementary school.  I had forgotten the challenges associated with teaching children after they had been in school for an entire day or early on a Sunday morning when many of their friends were still sleeping.  The obstacles are many.

So many advances have been made in education since my first days in the classroom.  We know so much more about how different people learn. In the early days a child might be labeled "disruptive."  Today we recognize how the teachers presents the material has a huge impact on a student's ability to learn.  However, there still is the issue of motivation.

For some the classroom will never be the setting that works for them.  For some it will be the tech shop.  For some it will through the internet.  For all, the material must speak to them.  Once the right fit is found, all is possible.

It is true of our connection to Judaism.  We must seek out the place, the content and the people who are best able to help us connect.  Our tradition is vast.  Within it there is a place for everyone. We must want to participate.