Slonimer has just tossed the idea of
sentencing guidelines for Rosh Hashana right
out the window! God will NOT judge you the
same way he judges every one else. If you
are a greater person, He’s going to have a
whole different set of guidelines he uses
for you than if you are a person of modest
capabilities. Why? Is that fair?
Shouldn’t we all be held to the same
standard? What about that idea of “one
manner of law?”
Ki Tavo 5766 -- Curses.
cursed is no fun. This week’s Torah
reading, Ki Tavo, contains a section called
the tochecha, the rebuke. The rebuke starts
out saying if you don’t follow God’s laws –
“Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed
shall you be in the field."... I
was thinking of that rebuke in this week’s
Torah reading a few days ago when I found
myself being cursed in a very public forum –
on the web site of the Jerusalem Post! And
what I find particularly astounding is I
wasn’t being cursed for criticizing Israel –
quite to the contrary, a bunch of very right
wing people were cursing me for praising
Israel and the IDF. Go figure.
It all started with an op-ed piece I
wrote that appeared in the Jerusalem Post on
Click Here to read the article.
Ki Tetze 5766 Rights and Responsibilities.
When I was a
teenager I had hair down to my shoulders and
I played organ in a rock band. I did not
like rules. I thought rules were a real
drag. I just wanted to have a good time, and
I didn’t want anyone giving me rules and
telling me what to do. I was really into my
“rights.” I have a right to do what I want
and have a good time, I figured, so everyone
should just leave me alone so I could do my
own thing. Fortunately, it didn’t take me
very long to figure out that my point of
view was defective.
Shoftim 5766 Exemptions from Fighting.
officers shall speak further to the people,
and they shall say, What man is there who is
fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and
return to his house, lest his brothers heart
faint as well as his heart. And it shall be,
when the officers have finished speaking to
the people, that they shall appoint captains
of the armies to lead the people.”
Does this make sense? Is this just? When you
are going out to war, there is a long list
of people exempt from going? Including
anyone who is “fainthearted?”
Re'eh 5766 Kosher and Eco-Kosher.
God care what you eat?
For a Jew, the answer is yes. This
week’s Torah reading, Re’eh, contains five
verses that are basis for our entire system
kashrut, the dietary laws. Volumes of Talmud
and chapters of law codes have been written
working out the details given in these few
Ekev 5766 and War in Lebanon.
news out of Lebanon is depressing.
More than 3,300 Hizbollah rockets
have hit northern Israel since July 12.
After over a month of intense fighting we do
not seem to have dealt Hizbollah any kind of
fatal blow. They still have thousands of
rockets left. Dozens are still falling
every day. Israeli troops are still engaged
in intense fighting only a kilometer north
of Israel’s border – an area we certainly
would have expected the powerful Israeli
army to have secured weeks ago. The press
reports that Israel’s cabinet is in disarray
with intense bickering, the top generals in
Israel’s ground based forces are unhappy
with the way Israel Defense Forces chief of
staff, Dan Halutz, an air force man, is
conducting things, and everyone is blaming
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for something.
Vaetchanan 5766. If there are 613 commandments, one might ask what makes the Ten Commandments that are the heart of this week’s Torah reading so special that they get singled out for special treatment, being written on stone tablets by the finger of God?
Matot Masei 5766. With a war in Lebanon going
on...This week’s Torah portion talks about an earlier
war the Jewish people fought. A war fought thousands of
years ago – against the Midianites. The story told
in the Torah about the war against the Midianites presents
a battle plan that no moral nation today would undertake.
Let no one accuse me of ignoring the troublesome passages
in the Torah. Here are some of the more challenging verses
in Numbers chapter 31:3. And Moses spoke to the people,
saying, Arm some of yourselves for the war, and let them
go against the Midianites, and do the Lord’s vengeance in
Pinchas 5766. WorldPride is planning to have their
annual massive march and demonstration in support of
tolerance and gay rights in Jerusalem in August of this
year. This is a huge event for the gay and lesbian
community. It is held in a different city each year. The
charedi (ultra-Orthodox) community is of course up in
arms. Typical headlines proclaim they are coming to defile
the holy city. The gays have accomplished what years of
struggle and battle couldn't--they have gotten the chief
rabbis and chief imams to agree on something, and to
jointly condemn the parade. They've even asked the Pope to
Korach 5766. Earlier this week Warren
Buffet, the world’s second richest man, announced that he
is giving $25 billion to the world’s richest man...For
most of us the issue is not are we giving away too much
money. The issue is, are we giving away enough? So how
much is enough? How much money are we obligated to give to
Shelach 5766. How many Palestinian
children’s lives are worth one Jewish Israeli soldier’s
life? How many Iraqi children’s lives are worth one
American soldier’s life? These are difficult
questions. But they are very real questions. They are part
of a broader question of what are the rules of engagement
in war. When we go to war, how are we to conduct
Bahaalotcha 5766. Our ancestors were a bunch of whiners. God did all these amazing things for them – bringing them out slavery in Egypt, feeding them with manna that fell from the sky. God gave them His most precious gift, the Torah. God was with them all the way. And what do they do? They kvetch.