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The Rabbi's Desk

03/08/2019 12:26:53 PM


My Derasha this Shabbat, Parshat Pekudei
will be delivered in the Straus Main Sanctuary

and will be on the topic

Paradise Found

Inside: (no longer linked, please scroll down)
•  My two Derashot from this past Shabbat 
•  Dvar Torah at Moriah Middle School

•  New Class on Olat Re'iyah, Rav Kook's commentary on the siddur
•  Addiction in Our Communities
•  For This, Hashem Made the Internet


My Derasha from this past Shabbat in the Straus Main Sanctuary
Personal Reflections on a Public Issue:
Women's Ordination Comes to Bergen County

My Derasha from this past Shabbat in the Isaac Perry Beth Midrash
A Tenuous Derasha, Flag on the Play


Dvar Torah at Moriah Middle School

One of my favorite movies is 'Inside Out', the animated film about a young girl and the motions that live inside of her anthropomorphized as different characters. The movie offers profound lessons on the inside life of an individual and how to cope and nurture the many different kinds of feelings within each of us.

One of my favorite concepts from the movie is 'core memories'. Core memories are events or experiences - treasured moments - that stay in our memory long after they occur because of the special meaning they have or the strong emotion they produce. They are represented in the animation by special, bright orbs.

The Ramban sees the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai as a national 'core memory'. Though it is a singular moment in time, the experience must be maintained in our collective psyche forever. Indeed, according to the Ramban the Torah commands us to remember the experience of receiving the Torah at Sinai. In this week's Torah reading, Pekudei, we find that the cloud of Hashem's presence descends on the Mishkan when it is completed just like the cloud of Hashem decended on Har Sinai.

Based on this, the Ramban understands that one of the primary goals of the Mishkan was to maintain the experience of Har Sinai as a 'core memory' for the Jewish people. That certain elements that occurred on Har Sinai are perpetuated in the Mishkan and Batei Mikdash in order to perpetuate that 'core memory'.

Even though we don't have a Beit haMikdash to capture this core memory for us of the giving of the Torah, each time we are in shul or study Torah it's an opportunity to be in the presence of Hashem and for us to create a moment for ourselves that helps connect in some small way to that core memory. 


New Class on Olat Re'iyah, Rav Kook's commentary on the siddur: My Wednesday morning class on the Siddur began a new topic this week. The class meets at the home of Bernice Hornblass Kohn Wednesday mornings at 9 AM and is dedicated in memory of Dedicated in memory of Albie Hornblass, Sydell Spatz Brooks, David Spatz, and Max Brooks zichronam li’vracha. Each session is a standalone lesson so one can join at any point. 

Class 02 (audio)

Class 01 (audio)

The text can be downloaded here (pdf)

Addiction in Our Communities

At the last RCBC meeting, we discussed addiction prevention and treatment with the Bergen County Prosecutor, Dennis Calo, and Lianne and Etiel Forman. Many of you may already know the Formans as the enormously courageous parents of a daughter plagued by addiction. They have been leaders in bringing this painful issue out into the open in the Orthodox community here in Bergen County. I'd like to share this flyer with you about a support group for families affected by addiction. And there is plenty of information at their website

Click image to enlarge




For This, Hashem Made the Internet

In 2015, a High School age, Lubavitch young woman wrote an inspiring poem entitled, "Worst Day Ever?". The poem went viral and still continues to garner wide attention across the internet. Most recently, a famous Hollywood actress shared it on Instagram. Click here to listen to an NPR episode about the poem and the poet.

Worst Day Ever? by: Chanie Gorkin

Today was the absolute worst day ever
And don't try to convince me that
There's something good in every day
Because, when you take a closer look,
This world is a pretty evil place.
Even if
Some goodness does shine through once in a while
Satisfaction and happiness don't last.
And it's not true that
It's all in the mind and heart
True happiness can be attained
Only if one's surroundings are good
It's not true that good exists
I'm sure you can agree that
The reality
My attitude
It's all beyond my control
And you'll never in a million years hear me say 
Today was a very good day

Now read it from bottom to top, the other way,
And see what I really feel about my day.




Mon, December 6 2021 2 Tevet 5782