Message for the Week from Rabbi Stein

The Pain Remains and So Do The Choices

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, February 21, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

HE [R. JOHANAN] SAID UNTO THEM: GO FORTH AND OBSERVE WHICH IS THE GOOD WAY UNTO WHICH A MAN SHOULD CLEAVE? R. ELIEZER SAID, A GOOD EYE; R. JOSHUA SAID, A GOOD ASSOCIATE; R.JOSE SAID,A GOOD NEIGHBOUR; R. SIMEON SAID, ONE WHO LOOKS [AHEAD TO SEE] WHAT [CONSEQUENCES] SHALL BE BROUGHT FORTH [BY HIS OWN ACTIONS]…

HE [FURTHER] SAID UNTO THEM: GO FORTH AND OBSERVE WHICH IS THE EVIL WAY FROM WHICH A MAN SHOULD REMOVE HIMSELF FAR? R. ELIEZER SAID, AN EVIL EYE; R. JOSHUA SAID, AN EVIL ASSOCIATE…

I can’t get my mind off of Parkland Florida.  As much as I would like a simple answer and an easy place for blame there isn’t. The mere fact that this happens so often with such increased devastation leaves my mouth gaping and my heart searching.  No quick comparisons, no rapid solutions exist.  Rather we must take a full accounting of the ills that beset our society. The rise in fear, the increased anger, the growing brokenness, the lack of real human connection are the results of something.

The Mishna challenges us to make good choices, to make conscious decisions about the life we want to lead. There is so much over which we have no control. Still, we must never abandon our capacity to affect our future and the future of those around us. Our Mishna today asks us to be thoughtful about who is part of our life and who is not. Who is being lost and who can be found. It asks us to see the world with realistic expectations while we are ever dutiful to a hopeful future.

  

Our Impact on Others

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Sunday, February 18, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Avot 2:9

RABBAN JOHANAN B. ZAKKAI HAD FIVE [PRE-EMINENT] DISCIPLES AND THEY WERE THESE: R. ELIEZER B. HYRCANUS, R. JOSHUA B. HANANIAH, R. JOSE, THE PRIEST, R. SIMEON B. NETHANEEL AND R. ELEAZAR B. ‘ARACH.  HE [i.e. R. JOHANAN] USED TO RECOUNT THEIR [FOREMOST] QUALITIES: R. ELIEZER B. HYRCANUS IS A PLASTERED CISTERN WHICH LOSES NOT A DROP; R. JOSHUA B. HANANIAH — HAPPY IS SHE THAT BARE HIM; R. JOSE, THE PRIEST, IS A PIOUS MAN; R. SIMEON B. NETHANEEL IS ONE THAT FEARS SIN, AND R. ELEAZAR B.’ARACH IS LIKE UNTO A SPRING THAT [EVER] GATHERS FORCE.   

When learning occurs community is created.  As time evolves in the classroom or any other learning environment we grow to learn who our colleagues are. We quickly assess who will carry the load on days when others are unprepared and those who will continually fall behind. There will be students who ask the best questions and those who seem to be distracted by a single word or phrase.  However, each student has a role.

This Mishna teaches that in every environment in which we find ourselves we impact others.  We can raise them up or we can bring them down. And that will become our reputation.  There will be the valedictorians and there will be the salutatorians.   We carry those titles our entire lives. In our yearbooks we are named best dressed, most likely to succeed, class clown.  Each name we carry forward, it is how our classmates remember us.   Some of the appellations we wish we could shed, some we carry with pride.  Our Mishna asks us, who do we want to be and how do we want to be remembered?

  

Owning our Accomplishments

Rabbi Jay M. Stein

Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 12:00:00 am

Avot 2:8

RABBAH JOHANAN B. ZAKKAI RECEIVED [THE ORAL TRADITION] FROM HILLEL AND SHAMMAI. HE USED TO SAY: IF THOU HAST LEARNT MUCH TORAH, DO NOT CLAIM CREDIT UNTO THYSELF, BECAUSE FOR SUCH [PURPOSE] WAST THOU CREATED.

 There is pride in accomplishing something.  Then, there is a pride that runs even deeper, owned in our depths.  That pride is born of an achievement far more significant than a passing success.  This sense of value comes from the knowledge that we have done for which we were created. 

 Each and every one of us has been born with a purpose.  Discovering what that ‘reason for being’ is sometimes difficult.  Sometimes we find that which makes us feel good but we are still unsure.  Once we have unearthed a process for achieving our potential the result is a profound sense of worth.  It is for that you were created.