Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

You are not Weak, You are Human

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Saturday, September 23, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

They sacrificed to demons, no gods. Gods they had never known. New ones, who came but lately. Who stirred not your fathers' fears. (Deuteronomy 32:17)

Everyone has something that keeps them up at night, at some point in their lives.  Maybe as children, it is an upcoming test.  Maybe as an adult, it is how will we provide for our families. For some, our sleep is easily disturbed, others seem more stoic. No matter, everyone has something that haunts them at some point.  It might be something you regret or something you fear will happen.   Some face those fears head-on while others run away from them. This doesn't mean you are weak. It means you are human.

At this time of year we all feel our frailty. If we take the words of our High Holiday prayer book seriously, we cannot help but be bothered by the challenges the words offer. If we permit our souls to wonder at all, they may walk into the darkness.  You are not alone.  Even though those demons aren't real, they are no less frightening.


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.