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The Rabbi's Desk

02/08/2019 02:50:19 PM


My Derasha topic in the Straus Main Sanctuary
this Shabbat Parshat Terumah

The Prophetic Message of the Song
"Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh"

Inside: (click links to jump to a section or simply scroll down)
REMINDER: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Changes
Parent-Child Learning Parsha Questions
Two Midrashim Cited in Introducing Last Week's AIPAC Shabbaton Guest Speaker Elliot Brandt

For This, Hashem Made the Internet (NEW FEATURE)

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Changes announced for the Straus Main Sanctuary begin this Shabbat

  • Start time moved to 9:00am
  • Derasha will be delivered BEFORE Musaf
  • Thoughtful messages for meditation will be offered to help us focus on the Tefilah
Parent-Child Learning Continues
Click here for last year's questions on Parshat Mishpatim. 

Two Midrashim I Cited in Introducing Last Week's AIPAC Shabbaton Guest Speaker Elliot Brandt

Friday Night Introduction
A Midrash quoted in Yalkut Shimoni (306) introduces Parshat Mishpatim by quoting a pasuk from Tehillim (99 4) - וְעֹז מֶלֶךְ מִשְׁפָּט אָהֵב “mighty king who loves justice”. The Midrash observes that this pasuk underscores a fundamental difference between Hashem, as a king, and kings of flesh and blood. Human king who want to assert their authority have little interest in democratic principles or the rule of law. The king is the law or above the law. His will shall not be restricted by any other force. Not so for the King of Kings. Hashem wants his subjects to rule themselves grounded on principles of justice and fairness. Indeed, Hashem's will or commandments only seek to provide justice, righteousness, and kindness between people.

The Modern State of Israel is a sacred country that aspires to follow Hashem’s model. As the only true democracy in the Middle East, Israel strives to maintain a just and fair society. No human endeavor is perfect, but these are clearly Israel’s values and in that way the State is a sanctification of God in this world. Not so for Israel’s enemies both within her borders and surrounding her. These are societies, in large measure, run by authoritarian regimes that seek to quell democratic principles and who actively or tacitly promote anti-Semitism and xenophobia.

This is one of the many reasons why the good work of AIPAC, and other organizations such as NORPAC, are so valuable in promoting the US-Israel relationship. Our countries share an important dedication to the democratic principles of justice identified by the pasuk in Tehillim, principles that Hashem our King wants us to uphold.

Shabbat Morning Introduction

There are few personalities in our history with more chutzpah than the prophet Yirmiyah. His sharp criticism of his people and their corruption made him unpopular in his generation. But his true chutzpah can be seen in his fierce advocacy on their behalf in contending with Hashem. It would take someone like Yirmiyah to look at an innocuous pasuk in Parshat Mishpatim, one that has to do with lending, and find a stinging rebuke of Hashem, as it were. We read אִם כֶּסֶף תַּלְוֶה אֶת עַמִּי “If you lend money to My people” (Shemot 22 24). The Midrash Rabbah (31 10) notices that the use of the word “My people” is strange. Money is lent to an individual or a group of people. So then why frame the concept in reference to the entire nation? The Midrash takes up the voice of Yirmiyah in developing a homiletic understanding of this nuance. The pasuk in Yirmiyah (6 30) states כֶּסֶף נִמְאָס קָרְאוּ לָהֶם that Hashem declares the Jewish people a rejected silver coin. The Midrash asserts that Yirmiyah complains that the Jewish people in exile would be treated as a coin. As it gets passed hand to hand, the coin’s image rubs out little by little and has to be re-stamped in order to restore the imprint. So, the Jewish people would be passed from nation to nation, suffering more and more at each successive stage. This is why the pasuk about lending is framed in terms of “My nation”, hinting at this concept that we, as a nation, would suffer in the exile like a coin passed from lender to borrower.

We, in this generation, are blessed to see that coin finally used as seed money to grow as an investment with the establishment of the State of Israel. Much of our suffering, which climaxed with the Shoah, has been relieved as we are finally able to live out part of our destiny in our homeland. And this investment is being nurtured by the enormous amount of human capital produced by our brothers and sister in Israel. The ingenuity and intelligence that are advancing Israel as a state and as an economy is clear demonstration of Divine support. AIPAC is one of the most major tools we have to ensure that from this side of the ocean we can help to continue this burgeoning, miraculous ‘investment’ that is our beloved Israel.

For This, Hashem Made the Internet

A new feature where I share fascinating links of Jewish interest that I stumble upon during my internet browsing that are so amazing they make me say “for this, Hashem made the internet.”

This week’s installment is a short poem written by Heinrich Heine the German-Jewish poet, journalist, essayist, literary critic, and (regretfully) apostate. I learned from a Tweet that in 1851, a few years before he died, he composed an ode to Cholent entitled "Sabbath Princess".

English Translation - Sabbath Princess
Cholent, beautiful spark of Divinity!
Cholent, daughter of Elysium!
So would Schiller’s song have sounded,
Had he ever tasted cholent.
Original German - Prinzessin Sabbat
Schalet, schöner Götterfunken,
Tochter aus Elysium!
Also klänge Schiller’s Hochlied,
Hätt’ er Schalet je gekostet.

Source from Twitter

Mon, December 6 2021 2 Tevet 5782