Shabbat Shalom and Shana Tova,
My name is Betsy Diamant-Cohen and I wish a happy new year and an easy fast to everyone.
The High Holiday season is time to reflect upon the past year, to see where we’ve been and to determine the path we want to follow for the coming year. In addition to our personal reflections, it is also a good time to reflect on where we have been as a congregation, and where we hope to go in the coming year.
RH Day 1 5774 The Pitfalls of Truth
A] I am calling this sermon, “the Pitfalls of Truth”, but it is, in fact, a sermon in favor of intellectual modesty and against fundamentalism. For fundamentalism is an almost unavoidable pitfall of the supreme value we assign to truth, and true intellectual modesty and programmatic philosophical self-doubt is the only corrective that stands in the way of sliding into that abyss, which we see altogether too much.
Returning to God / תשובה
These concepts, associated with this day, assume that we have been on that path in the past and that we have strayed. That we seek to now return to it.
They assume that we know it / recognize it can name it and find it, and, of course, that we want to go there -- and none of those things are ever self-evident.
By Rabbi Reisner
A] Rabbi Yehudah haNasi (the Patriarch),the head of the academy which officially promulgated the Mishnah in the Galilee in the year 210 -- (Jews were banned by the Romans from Jerusalem in those years after the destruction in 70 and the Bar Kochba rebellion in 135) -- Rabbi Yehudah had restored the stature of the Jewish community and was recognized as its spokesman by the Roman authorities. He had become a wealthy man, and engaged in correspondence with heads of state.
That much is true.
June 27th, 2009
By Arthur Harrow
Today we read the story of the Great Rebellion, where a series of people, most
prominently Korach, rose up and challenged the authority of Moses---and by extension that of God, who had appointed Moses. The question of rebellion or mutiny is not some theoretical Torah problem like what would happen if you tried to schect a chicken with the wrong size razor; I can tell you that during my two years as a synagogue president not a week went by without someone telling me how much better they could do my job. It happens in my practice, it happens on committees I sit on; it’s a part of human nature. It’s a prominent part of Christian theology---Lucifer felt he should be the guy in charge, and from that sense of envy arose sin and death.
I can understand how the Lord felt when dealing with Korach and the other rebels; like
Him, I have frequently been tempted to smite my critics and let the earth swallow them, roast their colleagues to a succulent medium-well, and condemn their sons to write song lyrics; but this would miss the teachable moment: telling the guy who’s sure he could do better that this is his chance; let’s see what he does when he’s in charge.
That brings me to the main topic today, which I will call:
What Would Bruce Do?
By Arthur Harrow
Three things of note this week. First, we read in our Torah portion the story of the
Redemption at the Yam Suf. Second we note the passing of Coretta Scott King, icon of the black Civil Rights movement. Third, we note the passing of Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique and the driving figure behind the “second wave” of American feminism. What is the common thread here?
Today many of us are fasting, maybe most of us.
Fasting by choice -
for tradition, because our parents and our grandparents did it,
to pray for a good year, for ourselves, our family, our friends,
and others we hold dear.
It’s not easy fasting,
and we’re glad when we hear the final sound of the shofar,
and can break our fast and eat.
Others are also not eating today, but not by choice.
They have no food.
And when the sun sets, it won’t change their situation,
and they won’t have a big buffet to choose from
to ease their discomfort.
Hayom Harat Olam – RH 5773 – Eve
A] 5773. Twenty three years ago, when it was just 5750, I stood before my then congregation and told them of an old midrash / a speculative or fanciful, rather than a factual, tale / that imagined that the universe was on a Shabbat-like cycle, and just as God worked for six days in creating the world, we also work six days then experience the day of rest / or the day of fulfillment / a day of appreciation and so too the universe was on a 6000 year cycle, to be followed by God’s own Shabbat of 1000 years -- the messianic era.
This midrash was clearly riffing on a well-known verse in Psalms (90:4) “a thousand years are, in Your eyes, as the day just past.”
Yom Kippur Speech - at the end of the Kol Nidre chanting
My family moved to Baltimore 14 years ago, from Jerusalem. Stuart was originally from England, I was from Connecticut. We met in Israel where we lived for more than 12 years. We knew what it was like to move from country to country, and assumed that when we came to Baltimore we would have no problem making friends. WRONG!