Menu   

Posts by Rabbi Erez Sherman

Crying & Laughing


Why do we have the different sounds of the shofar? The Rabbis answer that people around the world cry differently. Some moan, some sob, and some whimper. The shevarim and teruah calls echo those distinct manners of crying. Together on Rosh Hashana, we hear the cries of the world.

Read this post

Handshakes


First days of school are always nerve wracking and exciting. In my middle and high school, there was a tradition on the first day. The senior class would line up in front of the school. Every single student and faculty member would walk down the line shaking the hands of each senior. We would gather as a school community and the headmaster would explain the history behind the handshake. The popular theory goes that by extending your empty right hand, a stranger could show that they were not holding weapons and bore no ill will toward one another. Another explanation is that the handshake was a symbol of good faith when making an oath or promise. When we clasp hands, we show that our word is a sacred bond.

Read this post

Shofar is Here


When I was a child, an alarm clock sat on my bed stand. It was a real alarm clock-not a phone with a ring, but an old-fashioned clock with a bell. On some days, I dreaded that sound ringing in my ear, and on other days, I could not wait for the ring to wake me up for exciting days ahead.

Read this post

Fear


On a family trip to San Francisco, we visited Alcatraz. As we walked up the steep hill to the cell block which housed the country’s top criminals, our tour guide said, “The guards and their families kept their doors unlocked at night—they knew the bad guys were all locked up.”

Read this post

Prayer is a Gift


The Daat Zekenim teaches that there are seven different names that refer to prayer. The common word we use is tefilah. There is rina, joyous song, tzaakah, shouting out to God, nefilah, falling down, and several others. So why does Moses choose a techina, pleading with God when speaking before the revelation of the ten commandments? We learn that Moses wanted God to know that though he pleads, he is aware that even if God responds favorably, this response would be a gift rather than something he is entitled to.

Read this post

Bringing Faiths Together


The Rabbis teach that senseless hatred, sinat chinam, destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. Beyond the physical destruction, the Jewish community needed to pivot and create what would become modern Judaism, a Judaism spread around every corner of the world.

Read this post

Notice What You Notice


As Jews, we focus less on destinations and more on journeys. It is no surprise that the book of Numbers ends with a travelogue of places the Jews travelled in the wilderness. You can literally trace this route without WAZE today by holding a Tanach in your hand and reading through Parshat Masei. Yet, WAZE would be frustrated with the route the Jews took, as the people journeyed forward but also journeyed back towards where they came from.

Read this post

The Countdown


The countdown starts… ten weeks until Rosh Hashana. We know this by the Haftorah cycle that the Rabbis put in place. First, we are faced with three Shabbatot of rebuke, starting with the book of Jeremiah. The Sages characterize Jeremiah as “a book of destruction.” We read of the image of a boiling pot, representative of the impending doom of the Temple in Jerusalem. Most commentaries focus their debate around the question of hope—is there time for redemption?

Read this post