‘Rabbi’s Journal’ Category

Rabbi’s Journal

October 16, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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The Torah: A Blueprint for Creativity

There is a Far-Side cartoon that depicts God creating the world. In it, God is seen wearing an apron and chef’s hat surrounded by all of the necessary ingredients to create the world. Shaking a container labeled “Jerks” onto the Earth a thought bubble appears from God’s head that reads “Just to make things interesting”. The image of God as cosmic chef or maybe even mad-scientist is a common one. A little of this, a little of that and voila! The world! But is that how our tradition views the creation? How exactly did God know how to create the world? To some this may be obvious. God, being an omnipotent deity, simply knew that this was the way the world needed[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

October 9, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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Torah is the Best Treasure

“Children, we have now Simches torah It's Simches torah all over the world Torah is the best treasure – At least that's what the rabbi says.” This verse, from a song entitled “Simches Toyre”, is a key to understanding just how joyous our final holiday of the season is.It is not simply an expression of our happiness that we get to begin the Torah from the beginning once again. Nor is it the release from a month of holidays, and eating, and praying, and eating that can cause some kind of ‘Jewish fatigue’ even amongst the most dedicated and committed among us. No. Simchat Torah is our opportunity, as a sacred community, to give honor to the core of our identity as a synagogue[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

October 3, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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Well-Being in our Sukkah

Commencing just four days after Yom Kippur is the holiday of Sukkot. One of the names of the holiday is zman simchateinu, the time of our communal joy. But what exactly is the joy of sukkot? One of the leading experts in joy or happiness is a professor at Penn named Arthur Seligman. Seligman is noted as amongst the founders of the field of positive psychology, if not the actual progenitor of the field itself. His first book, titled “Authentic Happiness” laid out his theory in which he breaks down happiness into three elements: 1) Positive emotion 2) engagement and 3) meaning. The idea was that happiness is the highest goal of human living. Later though, Seligman’s thinking changed. In his[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

August 28, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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When You Build a New House

This week’s Torah portion is Ki Teitze. It is a series of miscellaneous laws that Moses issues to the people in advance of entering the Promised Land. This set of laws is truly miscellaneous. They range in category from family law, to domestic laws, to returning lost objects and helping one’s neighbor. The parashah contains some agricultural laws about planting mixed fields and plowing with two different types of animals. There are marital laws, citizenship restrictions into the people of Israel, laws of conduct in wars, how to take a vow and the power that resides therein. Really the list goes on and on. It is a strange collection. Nevertheless, we seek out meaning in our Torah even from the what[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

August 21, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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Zooming into Prayer

Well, the end of summer is upon us. Sad I know. But we have the High Holy Days on the horizon, and the end of August to fill our cups for the road ahead. This has not been an easy five months since the Coronavirus entered our world. The next five months are anyone’s guess. Yet, as the unknown is presented before us I feel grateful to have the grounding of Congregation Beth Mordecai and for the spiritual sustenance that we can provide in pressing ahead despite our doubts and our fears. And in reflecting on what is to come, I often reflect on where I have been. The past few weeks of starting Shabbat with you, planning our High Holiday[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

August 14, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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A Word From Rabbi Allen

UNITY THROUGH DIVERSITY Recently, I’ve been thinking about my grandfather, Harry Allen. It was his yahrzeit last week, so it makes sense, but in truth he has been on my mind. I’d like to tell you about him. Harry S. Allen was raised in Denver, Colorado, the child of immigrants from Marianpol, Lithuania.  Like many Jews of that time, they owned a store with their home in the apartment above.  Grandpa served in Europe during WWII as a navigator on B-24 bombers flying missions out of Italy.  He flew something like 50 missions and was awarded two purple hearts among other decorations and commendations. He used to remark about his choice to join the Air Force instead of the army, saying that[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

March 19, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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A Prayer of Hope During This Pandemic

I found the prayer very helpful and calming for me. The leadership of Beth Mordecai and I will be contacting our members. Please email Rabbi Metz at Rabbi.SaraMetz@gmail.com if there is any way we can do to help during this difficult time. A Prayer of Hope During this Pandemic by Rabbi Naomi Levy We are frightened, God, Worried for our loved ones, Worried for our world. Helpless and confused, We turn to You Seeking comfort, faith and hope. Teach us God, to turn our panic into patience, And our fear into acts of kindness and support. Our strong must watch out for our weak, Our young must take care of our old. Help each one of us to do our part to halt the spread of this virus Send[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat

Rabbi’s Journal

March 16, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: Half a Shekel

In this week’s parsha, Ki Tisa, we learn that each adult male was required to contribute the same amount, a half-shekel towards the building of the Mishkan, the portable Tabernacle in the desert. This mitzvah or commandment served two primary functions: it was a census, counting all the adult males potentially eligible for battle, and it helped to build up a fund to pay for the construction of Mishkan. The nature of each contribution being the same amount suggests the importance of each person. Each person has equal value to this world and God. Yet the amount that was given was only half a shekel from each adult male. Each person matters. This tax was only required by the adult males, yet each[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat

Rabbi’s Journal

March 5, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: Sacral Vestments

Following the description of the structure of the Tabernacle last week in Parashat Terumah, our portion, Tetzaveh, leads off with a depiction of the High Priest’s “sacral vestments” - the choshen hamishpat (breastplate of decision), the ephod, a robe, a fringed tunic, a headdress, and a sash. Classical commentators describe the purpose of those pieces of clothing is to elevate the holiness of Aharon, the High Priest, Kohen Gadol. Those items were made specifically for holy use. They are different and set apart from other articles of clothing. They were made with great care out of precious materials to be both beautiful and awe-inspiring. However, there were also specific elements of the sacral vestments that God commanded be included, not because of[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat Uncategorized

Rabbi’s Journal

March 3, 2020
By Beth Mordecai
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Shabbat Message: Sacred Objects

Parashat Terumah details the construction of some of our earliest sacred objects: the Ark of the Covenant (yes, the same one Indiana Jones found), the Tabernacle, and the sacred altar. Many of these objects take on central roles throughout the rest of the Torah and into Jewish history. The Ark of the Covenant led the Israelites on their march through the wilderness and in early battles for the Land of Israel. The Tabernacle was the portable sanctuary that eventually led to the construction of the Temple, the permanent sanctuary we still turn towards when we pray. As important as each of these objects are, they are in certain ways surprising. We speak of God as being without body or substance, so why do we have physical[...]

Category : Rabbi Rabbi's Journal Shabbat

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