Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

Change Can Occur Without Even Noticing

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

Our country has seen rapid changes in the past two weeks.  In some cases they seem almost revolutionary.  However, that is not how most change occurs.  Most of the changes that happen in our lives, happen so slowly we barely notice them. It is those alterations that truly challenge us to stay focused on our values and priorities and make sure we never stray too far.

This week, with the help of Jacob Goldman-Wetzler (a member of our Dalet class) I have started a new project. This week I explore this message further in"Learning in My Living Room." Please take just four minutes and enjoy it by clicking here.  

  

Ulterior Motives

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

I have heard the moaning of the Israelites... (Exodus 6:5)

And you shall know that I am the Lord your God... (Exodus 6:7)

I will bring you to the land I promised to Abraham...(Exodus 6:8)

For doing it without proper intent will lead to doing with proper intent (Pesachim 50b)

I'm not so certain that life would be better if we understood why people behave the way they do. Yet we spend a tremendous amount of energy trying to figure it out.  We speak of childhood scarring.  We refer to baggage accumulated through life.  We ascribe sinister motives to benign actions. We wonder about ulterior motives.

In this week's reading, God gives us three reasons for taking the Hebrews out of Egypt.

  • God heard the suffering and could not turn a deaf ear.
  • God was showing how powerful God is.
  • God was keeping God's promise. 

No matter the reason, the Hebrews are saved.  It really doesn't matter why. It only matters that our journey from slavery to freedom had begun.  

The same is true on our lives.  It doesn't matter why we choose to do good, to lend a helping hand.  It only matters that we do.  The lessons are simple: don't wait for the right reason to do good and don't question why someone else has already made that decision.

  

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?