Rabbi David Edleson
April 10, 2019
So, let me start with a question. Show of hands, who in here has been on a special diet of some sort in the past few years?
- Who’s not eating Gluten?
- Who’s not eating Dairy?
- Who’s doing Paleo, or Low-Carbs?
- Who’s not eating red meat?
- Low salt? Low sugar?
- Who’s vegetarian? vegan?
It seems that as Americans, we are very comfortable with all sorts of diets, all sorts of food restrictions, but for many of us, not eating bread for week seems like way too much. I can’t tell you the number of Facebook posts I get each year with Jewish friends taking a selfie of eating a sandwich, or doughnut, or other yeasty treat with a big spiteful grin on their faces.
This is Shabbat HaGadol, the GREAT SABBATH, and not just because it is Emma Marden’s Bat Mitzvah!
What Purim almost was
Tonight was going to be a festive Purim-leaning Shabbat, but after the events in New Zealand, it isn’t right.
It is important to remember that Purim itself is a holiday about a narrow escape from a massacre, a genocide. Purim celebrates that rare moment when such tragedy is avoided, but it reminds us how close we come to such events. Especially in Jewish history, we know that the good ending is clung to, but the tragic ending is all too common.
This week, we begin reading the book of Leviticus, or “Vayikra” in Hebrew. Leviticus is a very detailed training manual for priests at the ancient Jerusalem temple, and includes some of the most beautiful, and some of the most offensive laws in the Torah. We also get a blow-by-blow of each kind of animal sacrifice – sort of a Texas Chainsaw Massacre but with no chainsaws. It is no wonder that many synagogues in the early Reform Movement simply opted to skip Leviticus in the yearly readings. It can be difficult to find much connection and meaning in much of the book, and it is so counter to modern sensibilities that it mostly makes us feel the distance between our beliefs and the Torah.
BUILDING A SANCTUARY FROM THE INSIDE OUT
PART I – Sacred Partnership
We are here tonight to celebrate Shabbat, but also to install our new Board of Directors, to pray for their success, and to offer our support to them.
It seems particularly fitting that our Torah Portion is Terumah, which describes the building of the Mishkan, or Tabernacle- or in other words, the original Temple. It tells us in great detail how to make every object, from the menorah to ark of the covenant, to the rings that hold up the curtains.
While every synagogue needs leaders and board to do the work of keeping things running and healthy, our Torah portion begins not with the leadership, but with the people,
Safe On The Other Side?
Before I really get into my remarks this morning, I want us all to pause for a moment, and try to imagine the joy, the jubilation you would have felt if you had been slaves, then escaped with all your people, and then with an army hunting you down, a sea opened and you got across only to see those chasing you be covered by the waters. Just try and imagine that feeling of relief and release.
Now, try to remember the time in your life that is closest to getting out of a bad situation, escaping danger and attack, finally getting to the other side of a terrible situation?
So, it was a Jewish year ago when I came to Sinai to do my weekend interview. It was the Torah Portion, Va’eira, and tonight, we have rolled the scroll until we are back where we started together.
I confess I never much liked Hanukkah. It seemed like a crappy substitute for Christmas trees and presents and Santa. I know my Hindu American friends felt the same way about Divali.
It wasn’t until I spent Hanukkah in Jerusalem, with the smell of fresh sofganiyot everywhere, hanukkiot in every window, and the enormous flames of the barrel-torch hanukkiah down at the Wall, and the dancing with yeshiva buchers and soldiers
REKINDLING COMMUNITY –
Remarks on the Occasion of my Installation at Temple Sinai
Judaism only works if it makes our busy lives better, and I believe Judaism and
Jewish tradition, if lived intelligently, is a technology for making our lives richer
and more joyous, more connected – Our tradition is an epic life hack, if we engage
When people think of Judaism and Jews, I don’t think that ‘a culture of gratitude’ is the first thing that pops into our heads.
- We remember that our people k’vetched constantly after leaving Egypt.
- We know that Jonah wanted to die when God forgave Nineveh.
- Moses himself said, “these people are just too much for me to handle.”
- The prophets railed about, well, everything.
- And Yom Kippur feels more about beating ourselves up than giving thanks.
And I’ll admit, that I have always been a bit suspicious of people are overly grateful. It’s a bit too Candide for me, a bit “it’s the best of all possible worlds and it couldn’t possibly be any better.”