Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Who Am I?

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

Jean Valjean begins the eternal, potentially the most powerful, lyrics of the song "Who Am I?" in Les Miserable with:

He thinks that man is me
He knew him at a glance!
That stranger he has found
This man could be my chance!
Why should I save his hide?
Why should I right this wrong
When I have come so far
And struggled for so long?
If I speak, I am condemned.
If I stay silent, I am damned!

Moses begins his journey to the role of leader of the Jewish people with: But Moses said to God,“Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and free the Israelites from Egypt?”

Before we are capable of greatness we must figure out who we are. It appears as though Moses was asking what makes him worthy of such great things?  He is a person who was not sure if he was Hebrew or Egyptian; was once discarded or once chosen; not wanted or selected.  So begins the journey not to leadership but to identity. Moses, like us, must begin with the question, Who am I?Then he can ask, Now what can I do?



Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Sunday, January 15, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

Joseph took the two of them, Ephraim with his right hand and Mennaseh with his left hand...and he drew them close to him.(Genesis 48:13)

When I was a young child I often sat in shul with my Bubbie. I remember her hands and the way she would clean her glasses with just her fingers. I remember the bracelets she wore and the way her engagement ring seemed a little large for her finger because it easily could be spun around. I remember the wrinkles, though she never liked me making mention of them.  I remember sitting next to her while she prayed and I listened.  My grandmother was a deeply religious woman and I was profoundly influenced by her.

Grandparents have the opportunity to influence their grandchildren in ways parents are not able. However, it is the parents' task to ensure they have time together.  "Joseph drew them close to him." Although Jacob had missed most of their life, Joseph wanted his sons to be close to his father. Although Joseph may have had a complicated relationship with his father, he wanted his children to feel his blessing.   

May we all fondly remember our grandparents.  


We All Want to be Seen

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Thursday, January 5, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

In this week's message I read between the lines.  Between verses 3 and 4, I imagine an internal monologue.

Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph..." (Genesis 45:3)

I demand to be seen for who I am.  I spent my life struggling to find myself. Now I have  and I want to be seen and heard.  I might have spent a life looking to get noticed. Maybe there is some psychological explanation.  Maybe it was my subconscious searching for my own identity among so many brothers. 

I am no longer the loud, obnoxious, attention grabbing youth I was when I put on my coat of many colors in order to draw your eyes to me.  I am an adult who has arrived. I am accomplished. I am successful. I am powerful and you still do not see me. You still do not recognize me and so I weep.  I cannot go anywhere incognito.  Everyone knows who I am.  I am famous.  I am in control. They call me by another name, but my face is basically the same. Yet, you still have no idea who I am and so I cry.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come forward to me... I am Joseph your brother..." (Genesis 45:4)

We all want to be seen, we all want to be heard and when we are not, we all shed a tear.