Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein
We Don't Glorify Death; We Sanctify Life
Rabbi Jay M. SteinThursday, June 29, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
"Whoever touches a corpse, the body of a person who has died, and does not purify himself, defiles the Lord's Tabernacle; that person shall be cut off from Israel." (Numbers 9:13)
The world we live in is filled with death. Wars abound and we regularly witness terrorist acts that leave both the victims and the perpetrators dead. Through the internet, we are exposed to horrific images by those who worship the culture of death. Hassan Nasrallah used the phrase, "“We love death more than you love life!” in a 2004 interview to explain why Hizballah (the organization he heads) is destined to prevail over Israel. “The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win, because they love life and we love death.”
Our tradition has always valued life over death. We don't glorify death; we sanctify life. In these times, we must affirm that ideal and do everything in our power to preserve it.
Life in the Balance
Rabbi Jay M. SteinThursday, June 15, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
God spoke to Moses, saying, "Send men to scout the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelite people... "(Numbers 13:1-2)
It certainly wasn't a cyber attack when God instructed Moses to send in scouts to see the land of Israel but it certainly was spying. Since Biblical times countries have spied on each other. The only question is what do they do with the information. Since before the cold war we have been embroiled in a spy game that has sought military dominance and nothing has changed. Both the Former Soviet Union and the United States of America believe themselves to be the greatest superpowers.
The opposite is true of the spies sent into the land of Israel. They felt like grasshoppers in the face of giants. Even though God tells them they will be victorious, they cannot imagine it is true. No matter how many miracles God has already shown them, they cannot believe this one will happen.
The message is simple. An over inflated sense of self can bring on war. And underappreciated sense of self will limit our achievements. Finding the balance is a life long journey.
Healing Takes Time
Rabbi Jay M. SteinFriday, June 9, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
There was Miriam stricken with snow white scales! (Numbers 12:10) Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, "O God, pray heal her.: (12:13)
As some may realize, I have been under the weather for the past two weeks. I have been struggling with a virus that simply will not let go. It is nothing serious, though it has impacted my daily activities in a significant way. Two thoughts have replayed as I lay in bed, thoughts I am confident come to the mind of anyone who has ever been sick.
First, will I ever get better? The doctors told me that it would take 7-10 days to run its course. However, at day two that seemed like an eternity and at day 13 was clearly incorrect. Though I get better every day, there is the fear of relapse.
Second, I wanted to be left alone and I hated the isolation. I am person who thrives on interaction with others. I draw my energy from others and being stuck in bed was at times lonely.
These are great lessons to carry with us when those we love are sidelined by illness. It is with those sensitivities we need to approach those who suffer, while we listen carefully to what they articulate as their needs.