Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Torah For Today

I didn't give a traditional sermon this past week: instead I handed out some texts and lead a discussion around Parashat Mattot. See below for the content! What does it make you think about?

Moses spoke to the heads of the Israelite tribes, saying: This is what the Eternal has commanded: If a householder makes a vow to the Eternal or takes an oath imposing an obligation on himself, he shall not break his pledge; he must carry out all that has crossed his lips. –Numbers 30:2-3 The Torah: A Modern Commentary Revised Edition
He shall not break his pledge: “he shall not profane his word,” he shall not treat his word as being unholy. - Sifrei Mattoth 8
Has crossed his lips: Literally, “has come out of his mouth.” Vows and oaths made in the name of God are endowed with self-fulfilling powers regardless of the consequences. Once expressed, words are binding, even when the expression does not correspond with the intention. –Etz Hayim (emphasis mine)
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state But rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.” –Victor Frankl
“We all bring to the community our ripened fruit, the experiences and ideas we have developed in our lives, the patterns and rhythms that define us. The challenge is to be open to new ideas and experiences (budding fruit) without rejecting the ripened fruit of our past.” –Elie Kaunfer. Empowered Judaism
“Judaism is a rich, deep tradition – it is a difficult one, because it is not one that is accessed superficially and easily. It is demanding of time and effort. It is not just about once a week – Judaism is a 24/7 activity, that requires immersion, study, patience, persistence and connection to other Jews.
“It can’t be done well in isolation. And frankly, maybe it’s not for everyone…
“Both edgy indie minyans and shuls have forgotten that  communities are not about finding your age or personality niche and  working it. If you have an age range of only twenty years, you have failed, because  a community must be composed of  children, teens, twenty, thirty, forty, fifty-somethings, Also eighty-somethings. People who are sweet, people who are annoying as heck; people with money, and those who are middle class( the few of those left) and people who are poor. People with green hair or adopted children, or no children, or single people, or  gay and lesbian couples or people who like to camp in the great outdoors and those who think that Holiday inn is roughing it.
“That is a community.” –Rabbi Alana Suskin
"Relationships and community are the vehicles through which we find meaning. It does not make much difference if you are driving that fancy car or moving into that fantastic new home if you are alone and without a reason to get out of bed in the morning. It is not theology which binds us. rather, it is relationships.” –Rabbi Richard Address

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