Rabbi

Rabbi

Rabbi has not set their biography yet
04
Jun
0

Zuckerberg and Jewish Identity

Posted by Rabbi
Rabbi
Rabbi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
in The Jewish World
1

zuckerberg

One of the topics that preoccupied me as a new Ba'al Teshuva (newly religious) young man back in the 1980's and early 90's was the extent to which the theology of Reform Judaism offered absolutely no rationale, no basis for a religious imperative to adhere to Jewish law, or, for that matter, a uniquely Jewish lifestyle.  

Eugene Borowitz, one of the premiere thinkers of Reform in the late 20th century, wrote extensively on this topic.  The Wikipedia article on Borowitz explains:

His work has concerned itself with the dilemma of the postmodern Jew: committed to individual autonomy, but nevertheless involved with God, Torah, and Israel.

Now, how exactly "individual autonomy", read: the lack of a Divine imperative to adhere to mitzvot, was to be synthesized with the idea of being "involved with God, Torah and Israel" was anybody's guess.  I read this man's books and essays over and over again, and could not (for the life of me!) figure out how he ever meaningfully reconciled the contradiction.

Since the early 90's, I have moved on; for the last two decades, I have been primarily interested in disseminating what I feel is the authentic Torah tradition - instead of engaging in analysis of Jewish movements like Reform. But today, one of my colleagues in the Rabbinical Council of America, Rabbi Doniel Kramer provided a link to an eye-opening article in the Jewish Daily Forward.  The piece, entitled, "Losing Zuckerberg" is written by Reform rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan, and it's a VERY worthwhile read.  Here's an excerpt:

We failed Zuckerberg and will continue to fail young people like him because the pluralistic theologies of Reform Judaism articulated since the 1960s make it difficult to grasp what we Reform Jews believe on any given issue. Our faith is too amorphous. Math and science nerds, in particular, may be the type most likely to bolt. This is ironic because one of the raisons d’être of Reform Judaism was to create an approach to Judaism that would be scholarly and scientific. But we have lost our way, ignoring scholarship in favor of any type of “spirituality,” no matter how vacuous.

To read the entire article, click on: 

http://forward.com/articles/157074/losing-zuckerberg/?p=all#ixzz1wmtDRDeM 

Tags: Untagged
Hits: 1584 Continue reading →
Rate this blog entry
1 vote
01
Jun
0

Am I Missing Something?

Posted by Rabbi
Rabbi
Rabbi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
in The Jewish World
1

With all of the pressing issues in the Jewish world - security in the Mid East, cost of day school education, intermarriage.... somehow, I can't so excited about the chocolate chip crisis. Am I missing something?  I'm a week behind the times, but it's worth checking this out:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304840904577422074030275122.html

Tags: Untagged
Hits: 1427 Continue reading →
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
30
May
0
Posted by Rabbi
Rabbi
Rabbi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
in Words of Torah
1

Click on the following link to see my article in the recent JT News.  You have to scroll down three pages or so - the article is called "From Crackers to Cheesecake..."

http://www.scribd.com/doc/94616037/JTNews-May-25-2012

Tags: Untagged
Hits: 1311 Continue reading →
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
30
May
0

The Art of Investing....and of Letting Go

Posted by Rabbi
Rabbi
Rabbi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
in Words of Torah
1

As if we did not hear enough about Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu - and their sad demise, Perashat Bemidbar makes yet another mention of them. We are told once again how they died for bringing a "strange fire" to G-d, but this time, the Torah tacks on "And they did not have any sons".

Ostensibly, this unit, which aims at tracing the geneology of each tribe, is simply telling us that Nadav and Avihu fathered no children prior to their death. If the Torah had intended to continue discussing this family line, though, then why, when mentioning Aharon's two remaining sons, Elazar and Itamar, did the Torah not discuss their children? 

Rabbi Avraham Sofer ("the Ketav Sofer") offers a unique explanation of this passage: He suggests that not having sons itself is the unacceptable offering, the "strange fire" brought by the two: In their religious zeal, their desire for a pristine, hassle-free life, they chose not to have children. Fearing that their children may well go "off the Derech" - and not live a life faithful to the ideals of Torah, they both decide not to bring children into the world. G-d's rejection of this approach is signalled by the premature, joint death, of Nadav and Avihu.

In his commentary, Ketav Sofer cross-references the Talmud, Tractate Berachot 10a: There, Yeshaya Hanavi (the prophet Yeshaya) comes to reprimand Hizkiyahu Hamelech (King Hezekiah) and informs him that not only will the latter die in this world, but is not destined for life in the World-to-Come. The reason? Like Nadav and Avihu, Hizkiyahu refrained from engaging in the mitzvah of procreation. The King's defense, "I saw in my Ruach Hakodesh (Divine Inspiration) that any son I produced would be evil" - does not impress the prophet.

Yeshaya, instead, rebukes him: "What business do you have engaging in calculations of Divine secrets? You do what you have to do!"

In other words, adhere to the mitzvot, and the let the proverbial chips fall where they may!

Hizkiyahu counters: "Why don't you offer your daughter's hand to me in marriage - and the merit of both of us will produce righteous children!"

According to various manuscripts of the Talmud, and recorded in Eyn Ya'akov, Yeshaya responds by marrying off his daughter to Hizkiyahu.

One day, the King is carrying his two young sons, Menashe and Ravshaka, to the Bet Midrash, (House of study). Perched atop their father's shoulders, one remarks to the other, "Father's head is perfect to fry fish on!" The other son disagrees, "No, I think it's better as the surface of an altar to bring a sacrifice to Avoda Zara (idolatry)!"

Infuriated, Hizkiyahu hurls both boys to the ground; killing Ravshaka. Menashe lives.

What a bizarre story! What are we supposed to learn from it?

As parents, we understand the importance of a solid education for our children. As committed Jews, we invest our whole selves in ensuring that our kids receive an intensive and meaningful Jewish education. Its role in fostering meaningful individual and communal lives cannot be understated.

Hizkiyahu was hoping that the combined merit of himself and Yeshaya, along with his strategy of exposing the boys to the Bet Hamidrash at an early age, would secure their fidelity to Jewish values and Jewish life. He was exasperated to discover that all his efforts were in vain: One son chooses a life of physical indulgence, while the other abandons Jewish values in favor of another system. Hizkiyahu's "head" in the story represents the thoughts, the strategy of a devoted father.

The verse says:

רבות מחשבות בלב איש

Man has many thoughts and plans

ועצת ה' היא תקום

But G-d's counsel is that which will prevail in the end.

We certainly must do our part, but it is only G-d who decides whether our efforts will be rewarded. At a certain point, even devoted parents have to "let go" and understand that, however essential, we are only part of the process; ultimately, our success is ensured only by a Divine blessing, a nod from above.

This theme paves the way for Sefer Bemidbar: the Jewish people travel through the wilderness, and it's only their trust in G-d's benevolence that spurs them on.

לכתך אחרי במדבר בארץ לא זרועה

You followed me in the desert, in a land that was not sown.....

Tags: Untagged
Hits: 1702 Continue reading →
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
29
May
0

Funeral Announcement

Posted by Rabbi
Rabbi
Rabbi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
in Uncategorized
1

FUNERAL THIS WEDNESDAY, MAY 30 AT 11AM

We regret to inform you of the passing of Rebecca Boguch. Funeral services & burial will be held at the Sephardic Brotherhood Cemetery (1230 N. 167th Street, Shoreline, WA 98133) on Wednesday, May 30th at 11:00am. May the Lord comfort the family amongst the mourners of Zion & Jerusalem

Tags: Untagged
Hits: 1469 Continue reading →
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
24
May
0

Vida Behar's Bat Mitzvah Derasha

Posted by Rabbi
Rabbi
Rabbi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
in Words of Torah
1

This past Sunday at EB, I had the pleasure of participating in a celebration in honor of Vida Behar's Bat Mitzvah. She showed great dedication and poise in delivering her Dvar Torah, which you can read by clicking on the link below:  

http://ravron.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/vida-behars-dvar-torah1.pdf

Congratulations to Vida, her parents Dana and Rena Behar and the entire family for putting together such a meaningful and thoughtful event!

 

Tags: Untagged
Hits: 2003 Continue reading →
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
22
May
0

The Kiddush Man

Posted by Rabbi
Rabbi
Rabbi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
in Uncategorized
1

I think that this is a profound and wonderful short film.  Comments welcome! (You have to click on "watch it on youtube")


Tags: Untagged
Hits: 1721 Continue reading →
Rate this blog entry
1 vote
21
May
0

The Sound of a Summer Shofar

Posted by Rabbi
Rabbi
Rabbi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
in Words of Torah
1

This past Shabbat, we completed Sefer Vayikra with the first of two of the double Torah portions, Behar. (not to be confused with the family of the same name!) In the fiftieth year of the Shemitta cycle (seven rounds of leaving the land fallow in the seventh year) Jewish servants are released from their masters.  Triggering the event is a shofar blast - announcing the release of the slaves. 

Rabbi Frand cites the Sefer Hahinuch who offers a creative explanation for this ritual: A master who, although he must take care of room and board, has access to years of free labor - was surely hesitant to free his servant.   It involved taking a tremendous (thought expected) financial hit!  In order to encourage Jewish masters to carry out their obligation to free their slaves, the shofar was sounded throughout the land - as if to say, "We know it's difficult - but everyone is in the same boat!"    

Misery loves company!

All of us are subject to "peer pressure" as teenagers.  The dynamic of this social pressure may change over the years, but even as we age, we, too, look to our community for cues for the proper way to behave, to respond. The Torah, here, is bidding us to respond to the positive social pressure that comes with the fiftieth year. Knowing that everyone else is being called upon by the halacha to forgo the financial benefits of free labor - makes it easier for us to part with these same benefits. 

Rabbi Frand notes that the shofar blasts we sound during the Jubillee year mirror the format of those sounded on Rosh Hashanah, a mere ten days earlier. On the New Year, we relive the "Akedat Yitzhak" - the binding of Isaac.  Avraham and Yitzhak, father and son, were ready to pay the ultimate price in response to a Divine command.  The Torah says we must love G-d with all of hearts and souls, and they were ready to do so.  But there is one more way we are bidden to love
G-d: בכל מאדך - with all of your "might".  This phrase is understood in the Talmud as "with all of your wealth."

This recalls the character developed by the late great Jack Benny:

In an episode that was broadcast March 28, 1948, Benny borrowed neighbor Ronald Coleman's Oscar, and was returning home when he was accosted by a mugger.... After asking for a match to light a cigarette, the mugger demands, "Don't make a move, this is a stickup. Now, come on. Your money or your life." Benny paused, and the studio audience—knowing his skinflint character—laughed. The robber then repeated his demand: "Look, bud! I said your money or your life!" Benny snapped back, without a break, "I'm thinking it over!" 

Our Holy Torah recognizes that some people, however preposterous it seems, value their money sometimes more than life itself!  This is why the Torah bids us to love G-d with all of our wealth. Jewish masters in the Jubilee year were asked not to "think it over", but to respond promptly to the sound of the Shofar....

This past Shabbat, I made a plea for broader and more consistent attendance at Kahal.  Our daily minyan has had some challenges in the past month, as people take vacations, have other family responsibilities and the like. For modern man, time is money - and leisure time is greatly valued, too. It's much easier to pray Minha in midday or before dinner, and settle in for the night.  It's not always so convenient to pick up and come to Kahal for Tefila.  But as I noted on Shabbat, the value of Tefila B'Tzibur, communal prayer, is great.  It's not that "we need a minyan, so will you please come?" We as a community have to experience a paradigm shift, and appreciate the value of communal prayer as the means by which we approach Hashem as a single community, offsetting each other's individual foibles.

Let the shofar of Tefila B'tzibur be sounded!

Tags: Untagged
Hits: 1334 Continue reading →
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
17
May
0

We have moved!

Posted by Rabbi
Rabbi
Rabbi has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
in Uncategorized
1

Welcome to the new location and format of the Ezzy Bezzy Blog.  For nearly a year, we have been in wordpress, but now, with the unrolling of our new EB website, the blog is fully integrated into the EB site.  Keep posted on the latest classes, EB events, Divrei Torah and my thoughts on what's going on in the world by checking in with our blog on a regular basis.  I look forward to your comments!

Tags: Untagged
Hits: 1424 Continue reading →
Rate this blog entry
0 votes