Yom Kippur 5780-2019

“How does G-d Judge?”
(Updated and revised from Yom Kippur 5760-1999

We mortals need to be constantly aware that what may seem in our eyes as a trivial or insignificant transgression, may appear in G-d’s eyes as a very serious breach or violation. That’s the challenge of Teshuva.

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Naso 5777-2017

"G-d's Gift of a Second Chance"

G-d instructed Moses to command the People of Israel to purify the camp by expelling those Israelites who were impure. The Midrash maintains that those expelled were rebellious and ungrateful people who had been previously healed by G-d, and rejected G-d to embrace the Golden Calf.

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Kee Tavo 5769-2009

"Stretch Those Face Muscles!"

When the first fruits were harvested, they were brought by the farmers to Jerusalem with great fanfare and celebration. The Bikurim ritual teaches us a fundamental life principle of expressing gratitude and joy for the gifts that G-d bestows upon us. How unfortunate it is that so many who live in this most prosperous of times, have lost the ability to smile, to feel happy and to express proper gratitude for all the goodness in our lives.

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Sukkot 5769-2008

"The Imperative of Joy"

Non-Jewish theologians often promote the misleading notion that Jewish worshipers pray while trembling in fear and mortal dread before a vengeful deity. The truth is that Jews are meant to serve G-d in joy and happiness. It is on the festival of Sukkot where joy reaches its peak. Therefore we are mandated on Sukkot to be joyful, and to reaffirm that joy is intended to be the natural state of the Jewish people.

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Kee Tavo 5764-2004

"The Centrality of Joy in Jewish Observance"

Parashat Kee Tavo is one of the two parashiot in the Torah that features the terrifying prophecies known as the "Tochacha"--G-d's reproof of the Jewish people for not following His Torah. The Tochacha predicts that the Jewish people will bear sons and daughters who will not be theirs. It warns that these children will go into captivity because, "You failed to serve the Lord, your G-d, amid gladness of heart, when everything was abundant." More than anything else, what is needed in Jewish life today to help stem the horrific losses from assimilation is the transferal of the inherent joy in Judaism and an emphasis on how the very process of seeking G-d is a source of great pleasure.

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Korach 5763-2003

"Korach's Rebellion: Why is the Jewish Community Losing So Many of its Best and Brightest?"

According to rabbinic tradition, Korach was a great Torah scholar who went astray because of jealousy. But Korach was only the first of many great Jewish minds and personages who walked away from Jewish tradition. Perhaps the story of Korach can help clarify for us some of the root causes of Jewish apostasy.

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Yom Kippur 5760-1999

"How Does G-d Judge?"

Since we never know the value that the Divine "tribunal" ascribes to our deeds or misdeeds, we mortals need to be constantly aware that what may seem in our eyes as trivial or simple transgressions may appear in G-d's eyes as very serious breaches and violations. This "unknown factor" is one of the major challenges of sincere Teshuva (repentance).

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0 Comments10 Minutes