‘Rabbi’s Journal’ Category

Rabbi’s Journal

December 16, 2016
By bethmordecai
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Rabbi Saks’ Letter to the Community about his future

Dear Hevreh, My very first day as rabbi of Beth Mordecai, I excitedly penned an email entitled “DAY 1” to share the “first step” in my rabbinic journey at Beth Mordecai. Now, nearly 1700 days since that first email, I write this letter with very different emotions to tell you that the next step in my rabbinic journey will take me in a different direction, and that after June 30, 2017 I will no longer be the rabbi of Beth Mordecai. I can’t even begin to consider the impact of all the days I’ve counted, all of the steps I’ve taken along my rabbinic journey with you. How can I truly relate the emotions of the times we’ve laughed together, cried together,[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

August 15, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1506: No Synagogue Required

Dear Hevreh, Yesterday (Sunday) I had the pleasure of spending the end of Tisha B'av learning Torah with a number of 20s and 30s who live in Highland Park. Many topics were included in this marathon of learning including... how Tisha B'av implores us to feel the pain of historical collective trauma, how we struggle with understanding why bad things happen to seemingly good people, and how our love affair with Jerusalem revolves around lamenting its destruction and hoping for its rebirth (among other topics). The conversation was stimulating, variegated, and incisive because we weren't shy to share our own perspectives - our Unique Torah - and we weren't afraid to listen and be moved by the teachings of[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

July 21, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1468: A Prayer to Breathe

Dear Hevreh, Below you'll find a prayer I wrote in honor of the victims of the Dallas shooting which I'll be reading at a vigil today organized by the Perth Amboy Chaplain Corps. I will be speaking on this prayer (and the sources quoted) during my talk tonight. Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Ari Saks Adonai Elohei Haruchot L'khol Basar, God, Source of the breath of all flesh (Numbers 27:15) You breathed your spirit into the nostrils of the First Human (Genesis 2:7) Imbuing our earthly bodies with your heavenly spirit (Rashi on Genesis 2:7) A pure spirit (Talmud Masekhet B'rakhot 60b; Birkhot Hashahar) So as long as I breathe, I acknowledge Your Presence (Talmud Masekhet B'rakhot 60b; Birkhot Hashahar) Lord in this moment of hamas, of anger and hostility (Genesis[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

July 1, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1461: It’s My Fault There’s No Fireworks Tonight

Dear Hevreh, It's my fault that fireworks are not happening tonight. One of the organizers asked me to pray that rain would not fall tonight, and though I did offer a prayer, it didn't help; the weather forecast is too inclement for the fireworks to happen tonight. They've been rescheduled for tomorrow and I hope the organizer doesn't ask me to offer a prayer for those fireworks - I don't want it to backfire. Before you write me a note saying "to not take your prayers so seriously" or that "you really didn't cause this," just know that I wrote the previous paragraph with the proverbial tongue in my cheek. I recognize that prayer doesn't necessarily work in that way we most[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

June 23, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1454: What the Cavaliers NBA Championship Teaches Us About Empathy

Reflection on the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the NBA Championship and our upcoming Shabbat by the Sea experience on Caring for One Another... Dear Hevreh, I confess that I was very excited when the Cleveland Cavaliers ("Cavs") won the NBA championship on Father's Day. Why is this something I have to confess to? Because I'm not a Cavs fan, I'm a Sixers fan. More to the point, I'm a Philadelphia sports fan and it surprised me that cheering for the Cavaliers to win on Sunday night felt somewhat like cheering on one of my Philly teams win. It was odd, because a part of me thought that I should not feel that way, that no team winning a championship could (or should) feel[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

June 17, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1448: Dads Don’t Babysit, It’s Called Parenting

The following is a preview of a conversation this Shabbat morning in honor of Father's Day... Dear Hevreh, I'm not sure how to celebrate Father's Day. Though this will be my third Father's Day as a "father," I don't quite know how to approach the significance of this day. It it supposed to be a "ho-hum" day with the highlight being the giving of gag gifts and the telling of dad jokes? Or is it supposed to be something more significant where the role of a father is appreciated in a way analogous to (though not the same as) the way that Mother's Day is celebrated as a High Holiday on our secular calendar? I guess this question of how[...]

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May 25, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1425: The Mitzvah of Smiling

Reflection on this weekend's Scholar in Residence Weekend -- From Being Jewish to Doing Jewish: Deepening Our Jewish Identities מָֽה־אָשִׁ֥יב לַיהוָ֑ה כָּֽל־תַּגְמוּל֥וֹהִי עָלָֽי׃ How can I repay unto the LORD All His bountiful dealings toward me? (Psalm 116:12) Dear Hevreh, Smiling. It's one of the most important things we can do, but also one of the hardest. We smile when we're happy, laughing, and enjoying our experience, but too often we walk into life's moments with a skeptic's frown; we demand that others impress us before rewarding them with a smile of acceptance. As a rabbi looking out at a congregation on Shabbat morning or during the holidays, the task of turning a skeptic's frown into a believer's smile can be daunting. If[...]

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By bethmordecai
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Rabbi’s Public Journal

RABBI'S PUBLIC JOURNAL -- Follow Rabbi Saks' rabbinic journey as he leads Beth Mordecai to become an active and passionate Jewish home for the soul... Read his public journal HERE!

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Rabbi’s Journal

May 18, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1418: Feeling Our Inner Yid

The following is the first of three journals previewing this weekend's Scholar in Residence Weekend -- From Being Jewish to Doing Jewish: Deepening Our Jewish Identities. Today's installment focuses on the Friday night program around "being Jewish." Dear Hevreh, Chances are that if you're reading this message, there's been at least one seminal moment in your life when you either felt a connection to being Jewish, or (if you don't identify as Jewish) you developed an appreciation for what Judaism has to offer. In other words, regardless of our particular experiences, we share a universal feeling of the importance of whatever-it-is-that-we-call-"Jewish." Our weekend's scholar Rabbi Porath will spend some time on Friday night helping us articulate and appreciate these seminal experiences of being/feeling[...]

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Rabbi’s Journal

May 13, 2016
By bethmordecai
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DAY 1413: It’s All Planted Within

*Note: this message is a little longer than usual   Dear Hevreh, At the onset of the this week's triennial Torah reading of Parashat K'doshim (Leviticus 19:23-24), we read... כג  וְכִי-תָבֹאוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, וּנְטַעְתֶּם כָּל-עֵץ מַאֲכָל--וַעֲרַלְתֶּם עָרְלָתוֹ, אֶת-פִּרְיוֹ; שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים, יִהְיֶה לָכֶם עֲרֵלִים--לֹא יֵאָכֵל. 23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as forbidden; three years shall it be as forbidden unto you; it shall not be eaten. כד  וּבַשָּׁנָה, הָרְבִיעִת, יִהְיֶה, כָּל-פִּרְיוֹ--קֹדֶשׁ הִלּוּלִים, לַיהוָה. 24 And in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy, for giving praise unto the LORD. It seem a little odd that the Israelites would not be able to eat food they just planted in the[...]

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