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Posts by Rabbi Erez Sherman

Making the World a Safer Place


The Lubavaticher Rebbe once said, “Evil is simply the absence of good, it has no real existence of its own, and is dispelled in the light of goodness.” The Rebbe’s teaching is a beautiful guide towards making the world a safer place. We know this is easier said than done. Last night, in discussion with Professor Adam Winkler and Dr. Francine Lederer, our community had this exact discussion. While we examined the roots of violence in the workplace, homes, and our society at large, we also heard ways in which we can model for our next generation a life of…

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Israeli in Spirit


If you asked someone living in Israel two generation ago, “Where are you from,” very few would say “I’m from Israel.” They would tell you, “I’m from Poland, Russia, Morocco, Iran, Spain, or France.” We are blessed that today the demography is different. Not only do we have several generations of sabras, but Israelis are dispersed throughout the world. Rick Richman, in his book, “Racing Against History,” tells the fascinating story of three leaders of Israel, Chaim Weizmann, Vladimir Jabotinsky, and David Ben Gurion. None of these men were born in Israel. But as Diaspora Jews, these Zionists comprehended the…

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Cup of Remembrance


Passover is also called zman cheruteinu, a time of our freedom. We recline like royalty, sing freedom songs, and eat delicacies. Yet, we end our holiday with Yizkor, prayers of remembrance. Our Judaism is filled with commemoration and joy at the same time. The same people that left Egypt were not the same people who entered the Promised Land. We recognize that to reach the height of freedom, we must honor those lives that came before us. Just seven days ago, we sat at our Seder tables and added seats for special guests. Yet, we also stared at the empty…

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Too Many Questions


Why are there so many laws on Passover to commemorate one miracle, that of the Exodus? Sefer Hachinuch, the 13th century book of mitzvot, explains we are affected in accordance with our actions, and our heart and thoughts constantly follow the deeds in which we are occupied, whether good or evil. The Talmud explains that God gave us Torah and an abundance of mitzvot to preoccupy all our thoughts through them. For through good actions, we are affected to become good. Tonight we will perform 15 steps of our Seder. Some will get through the steps because they have to….

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A Hero’s Legacy


I visited Poland three times during Rabbinical school, as I led teenagers on a journey to learn about the Shoah, the Holocaust. On our first day in Warsaw, we would begin at Mila 18, the sight of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which began on April 19, 1943, on the first night of Passover. We would walk to the Umshlagplatz, the train station that would deport the Jews of the ghetto to the Treblinka death camp. We were taught that we were not experiencing the Shoah, but we were learning our history. This week, we as a Sinai Temple community, a…

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Salt


This week, I sat on a panel of Rabbis from all denominations. Our audience was unique, consisting of mayors and heads of regional councils from various areas in Israel. Some of the distinguished guests were religious and others were secular. This is the most fascinating question we were asked, “How do you have the ability to sit and talk with Rabbis who have different theological beliefs with you?” One Rabbi responded, “Gathering together with our colleagues of different beliefs allows my own beliefs to be expressed in a more thorough manner.” Our Torah teaches that each offering brought to the…

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Building Dreams


Theodor Herzl wrote, “Dreams are not so different from deeds as some may think. All the deeds of men are only dreams at first.” The book of Exodus concludes with the construction of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle. We began the book as slaves in Egypt, and could only dream of freedom. They were used to building monuments to Pharaoh, not sanctuaries for God. Today, the State of Israel, celebrating 70 years of existence, continues to dream. Yet, today, the dream is different, as Israel looks outward to help the world. Each year, at the AIPAC Policy Conference, we learn of…

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Hands Up


Try to hold your hands above your head, with your arms straight into the air. It is a difficult stretch to do for more than a minute. Yet, this is exactly what Moses did to lead the Jewish people into battle against Amalek. The midrash teaches that Moses’ hands were spread toward the heavens with faithful and well-intended prayer. This Sunday morning, over 200 members of Sinai Temple will gather in Washington, D.C. for the AIPAC Policy Conference, in support of the US-Israel relationship. As Jews, we know we never do anything alone. We study Torah with a hevruta, a…

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Eternal Light


I remember the first time I saw that the ner tamid, the eternal light, was not lit. It was a harrowing experience. As I grew older, I saw the lamp not only as an object, but as a motivating factor of God’s presence. The Torah teaches that this light should be tamid, eternal. The Rabbis ask, “What is eternal?” Should it be continually or should it be constant? Sefer Hachinuch, the book detailing the 613 mitzvot, instructs us that the underlying purpose of kindling the flame is to increase the grandeur of the Temple and thus glorify our own hearts with this…

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Pray for Parkland


This week’s Torah is a prayer by Rabbi Nicole Guzik. Ribono shel olam, Master of the Universe, it is with anger, rage, confusion and sorrow that we turn our hearts to you. Today, parents prepare funerals for their babies. Today, parents grieve the hopes and visions of children graduating high school, falling in love, achieving professional goals, and manifesting their dreams. Dear God, help us to reach those that mourn and are afraid. Let the families of Parkland, Florida hear our voices and feel bolstered by our words. This world cannot be defined by destruction and fear. Give us the…

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