Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein
Your Are Your Own Best Advocate
Rabbi Jay M. SteinTuesday, April 25, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
“And if a man or a woman have in the skin of their flesh bright spots, even white bright spots; then the priest shall look; and, behold, if the bright spots in the skin of their flesh be of a dull white, it is a tetter, it hath broken out in the skin: he is clean.” (Leviticus 13:38-39)
Five years ago I developed a pain in my left forefinger. It wasn’t terrible, but it did hurt. I could swear I felt a bump and it looked a little swollen. I ignored it for a while until it really started to hurt. I went to my internist who said it was nothing. He suggested that if it still bothered me in a month, I should return and he would order x-rays and perhaps an MRI. A month later I went back and he did a full study that showed pretty much nothing. A month later, again, we went through the same exercise. Still nothing. So I decided to go for another opinion. At the request of my mother, I went to see her “brilliant” hand specialist. Still the same result. Finally, I decided I would just have to live with it.
Although we hear many stories about second and third opinions resulting in the same diagnosis, we also hear stories about people who knew something was wrong and they pursued professional opinions until something significant was indeed discovered.
Sometimes we simply accept the professional’s opinion and sometimes we reject the diagnosis. It is important, in this medically advanced world, to know when to accept and when to look further. The decision can only come from knowing oneself.
Words of Encouragement
Rabbi Jay M. SteinSunday, April 23, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
Moses said to Aaron, "come forward." There is a tradition that Aaron had to be urged to bring his purification offering, a calf, because he was embarrassed. It reminded him of his role in fashioning the Golden Calf. (Etz Hayim page 631)
I watch many sports. There is an interesting ”happening” that occurs at many sports events that doesn’t take place in our every-day lives. Cheerleaders appear. What I find amazing about this is that most people who play sports don't need the added incentive of someone pushing them to try harder. Conversely, there are many professions in which a great deal of support is needed, yet there is none. And so too in our every-day lives.
Perhaps our values are misaligned. We all need encouragement. Regardless the situation, at some time in our lives, we all need a little push. Perhaps we should stop for a moment during our busy days and offer someone words of support for whatever their need.
Kindness Takes Work
Rabbi Jay M. SteinThursday, April 13, 2017 at 12:00:00 am
Who knows 13? I know thirteen. Thirteen are the attributes of God.
We conclude our sedarim with this wonderful song in which we play a numbers game. In this Shabbat’s Torah reading we are introduced to the 13 attributes of God, “Adonai, Adonai, a God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and faithfulness, extending kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and granting pardon.” (Exodus 34:7)
It may be difficult to discern how the Rabbis calculate 13 different attributes, however, we can see a pattern of kindness and forgiveness. Over the course of the next seven weeks we will play another numbers game as we count from Passover to Shavuot. Each day we will count the Omer and we will need to do an accounting. Between Passover and Shavuot we will journey from slavery to receiving the Torah and we will have ask ourselves the question of whether we have earned both our freedom and the Torah.
Each day we make choices between patience and kindness and anger and resentment. Each day we have the option of mimicking God or giving in to our lesser selves. Let us to use this time between Passover and Shavuot to review how we did each day.