Menu   

Honorable Mensch-ion

Anger & Indignation


When Moses came down the mountain and shattered the tablets on the golden calf, the Torah says vahiychar af, Moses was angry. However, Rabbi Joseph Herz makes a distinction between anger and indignation. The Rabbis teach that one who breaks anything in anger is like an idolater. Anger is selfish and an emotional reaction. Herz further explains that indignation is a moral response that we feel when we see a great wrong committed. This is what Moses felt when he witnessed the golden calf; the event did not hurt him personally but rather erased the Divine presence from the people Israel.

Read this post

Conductors of Our Lives


Just a few years ago, birthday party conversation centered around social and cultural talk: the best movies and the most delicious restaurants. Today, the chatter is different. You hear in depth analysis of the most current acts of antisemitism–internationally, nationally, and on a micro level, affecting our own neighborhoods.

Read this post

See the Voices


While our tradition puts an emphasis on the Ten Commandments, it is important to recognize that the moment would never have occurred without the proceeding events of revelation. The miracle is in the words, roeem et hakolot, they saw the voices. Rashi explains that the people saw which should be heard, something which is impossible to see on any other occasion.

Read this post

Sing


How do you define music? Dependent on the combination of notes, music can create cacophony or harmony. In western music, with 12 finite notes, it is up to the musician to create the masterpiece. Music carries us through our lives. We sing when a baby is born and we sing when a loved one passes. We sing when we feel loved and we sing when we are upset. Some of the most well known spirituals came from the enslaved who sang to pass the time.

Read this post

Darkness


Ask someone to describe darkness and you will receive different definitions. Rabbeinu Bachya in interpreting this plague gives three examples. There is tangible darkness, thick darkness, and darkness that will materialize. Each one of these is experienced differently.

Read this post

Magic


Magic allows us to be in awe of what we do not know. We love the suspense, the thrill, the fact that the impossible can happen in front of our eyes. Do you remember the first time you learned how to perform a trick or learned how the magician makes it happen? It often takes the fun out of the game and magic simply becomes reality.

Read this post

Learning from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel


Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel would interview students entering Rabbinical school. He once asked, “If you were stranded alone in Antarctica, what is one thing you could not live without.” The student trembled in fear, unsure of how to answer this great Rabbi. A Torah? A mezuzah? A siddur? After a few moments, Heschel responded, “If I were you I would take a winter coat.”

Read this post

A Blessing of Retirement


Last week, my father retired as a Rabbi after fifty years in the pulpit. This Shabbat will be the first week in a half a century that he will not give a sermon or acknowledge a birth, yahrzeit, or a wedding couple from a bima. He will be a Jew in the pew. Often, people approach Rabbis and say, “I’m coming to you because you have a more direct route to God.” In reality, each of us have the same access to the Divine.

Read this post

Sacred Words That Matter


When we look at photos from the past year, we are often unrecognizable. Was that really me? We dressed differently, we had different hairstyles, and we have experienced life’s ups and downs. When we look in the mirror in a new secular year, we are in fact a different person. The same is true when Joseph reunites with his brothers. They do not recognize him as a person second in command in the land of Egypt. Joseph urges them to tell their father that God has made him the master of all Egypt in order to take care of his family. In this speech, Joseph says, “It is my mouth that is speaking to you.” Rashi explains that Joseph spoke lashon hakodesh, the sacred language of Hebrew. While he may have been dressed as the master of Egypt, he truly was their brother and son, the child they knew years before.

Read this post