My Shabbat Message for May 15, 2020

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(Watch a video version of this message.)


Dear Community Members,

It is with complete disgust and revulsion that we are forced to share with you that in spite of our own Rabbinic Authority’s clear Jewish legal guidance and those of our movement and other rabbinic organizations plus recent medical guidance, there were a number of people who blatantly violated our synagogue’s policy and indeed participated in a rogue worship gathering this past Shabbat. This level of raw chutzpah and dangerous behavior that puts others at risk cannot be tolerated. This type of behavior and the individuals who perpetrated it must be responded to with significant consequences.


That is the first paragraph, slightly edited, from Rabbi Edelman to his South Florida congregation. His message is direct and his language is overly harsh. Obviously. And while it goes without saying that I would never use such language with …

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My Shabbat Message for May 1, 2020

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רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן אֶלְעָזָר אוֹמֵר, אַל תְּרַצֶּה אֶת חֲבֵרְךָ בִשְׁעַת כַּעֲסוֹ, וְאַל תְּנַחֲמֶנּוּ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁמֵּתוֹ מֻטָּל לְפָנָיו

Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar said:
Do not try to appease your friend during his hour of anger;
Nor comfort him at the hour while his dead still lies before him…
(Pirke Avot 4:18)

I’ve been thinking about this teaching from Pirke Avot- Ethics of the Fathers- quite a bit in recent weeks. There are, of course, teachings from this small section of the Talmud that are more uplifting. There are many that are more spiritual… more optimistic. And yet, this year, this is one of the sections of Pirke Avot that is resonating most loudly for me.

There are a few reasons for this.

The statement “[Do not try to] comfort him at the hour while his dead still lies before him…” may strike some as a bit too “in your face” but …

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